Phule's Company is a sci-fi series by Robert Asprin about (what appears to be) a Millionaire Playboy in the Space Legion who gets Kicked Upstairs and in charge of the Legion's worst unit, unofficially called The Omega Company. He has to turn them from a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits into a well-oiled machine, and through the books encounters more and more bizarre assignments and new worlds.Later books in the series were officially "co-written" by Peter J. Heck. For better or worse, it is very likely that Heck did most if not all the work.Books in the series:
Phule's Company (1990). Phule gets a new Legion name and takes over the Omega Company, stationed on a swamp planet.
Phule's Paradise (1992). The company takes over guarding a space casino.
A Phule and His Money (1999). The company finds themselves in contest with a planetary government that runs on theme parks.
Phule Me Twice (2000). Robot doppelganger
No Phule Like an Old Phule (2004). Phule Sr. shows up
Phule's Errand (2006).
All Natural Gem Polish: Lampshaded and averted. One of the executives of the mining consortium shows Phule the gems being mined in the swamps in Phule's Company; they look like muddy gravel, and the miner states that they need to be both cut and polished before sale.
Boobs of Steel: Top Sergeant Brandy is a superior brawler who is described as physically impressive in pretty much every possible way.
Briar Patching: The biker gang that Chocolate Harry joined the Legion to escape catches up with him. After hearing how CH had doublecrossed them, Phule orders C.H. to let them destroy his beloved hoverbike as punishment. Over C.H.'s impassioned protests, the gang takes their revenge. After they leave, we find that Phule and C.H. had planned the whole thing, and C.H. had exaggerated his grief to make sure they were satisfied. Regaining his peace of mind was worth the loss of his bike.
Camp Cook: Escrima. Cooks like a five-star chef, with an ego to match. Also qualifies as Chef of Iron, since he's a top-notch fighter, including teaching his namesake fighting style to other company members, and is capable of hospitalizing would-be food critics.
Cast Calculus: Or how most of the Omega Mob gets broken down into manageable pairs... as well as non-Legion characters, such as the two IRS agents from A Phule And His Money, General Blitzkrieg and his long-suffering assistant Sparrowhawk, etc.
Confusion Fu: Phule's logic for putting the Red Eagles' best fencer up against Escrima, a trained martial artist who had never fenced before in his life. While not enough for Escrima to win the match, it proves very effective nonetheless and it's noted that were they in a real fight, Escrima would have been the victor.
Corrupt Politician: Governor Wingas, in Phule's Company, licks his lips at the possibility of getting a "campaign contribution" from Phule.
Dating Catwoman: In Phule's Paradise Beeker and Laverna strike up a pleasant relationship despite—in fact, somewhat because of—being aides de camp to the leaders of the enemy groups.
Earth That Was: Although Earth and its history are often indirectly mentioned, it is always in the past tense. During the very few times the Earth is directly mentioned, it's referred to as Old Earth.
Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Tuskanini. He speaks English poorly, which contributes to his Dumb Muscle appearance, but it's revealed that this is because he chose to learn it the hard way, rather than taking advantage of the Translator Microbes most non-human species use. The microbes avert this for the Gambolts and Sinthians, but not so much for Leftenant Qual.
Elvis Impersonators: Converts to the Church of the King have plastic surgery to take on his features. This leads to a certain amount of confusion, which the Legionnaires eventually use to their advantage.
Fiction 500: Captain Jester, aka Willard Phule, is one of the richest men in the galaxy, which is why he was reassigned to the Omega company instead of being sent to the stockade.
First Contact: At the end of the first book. Phule has taken on the responsibilities (and the profits) for dealing with the aliens.
Gentle Giant: The pacifistic Volton Tuskanini, a seven-foot-tall warthog who wouldn't fire a gun at the start of the series.
Heel Face Turn: Colonel Battleax was the one who decided to assign Phule as the CO of Omega Company, under the pretense that dealing with a group of the Legion's unassignables would force him to resign. It only took one book for her to be one of the company's biggest supporters, even going up against General Blitzkrieg, her superior officer.
Hover Board: Spartacus, the Synthian, rides one of these.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Tuskanini and Super Gnat. He stands over seven feet tall (and looks rather like a bipedal warthog, to boot). She's about 5 feet tall.
Literary Agent Hypothesis: Supposedly, the books are Beeker's recounting of events; the story is interspersed with his personal comments, and occasionally he will explain that he's just inferring scenes he wasn't there for from the things he does know.
Loophole Abuse: The Omega Mob finds itself in a competition against the elite Red Eagles to see who can make it through an obstacle course fastest. Phule specifies that the race will be with "full combat gear and conditions," and the Red Eagles quickly complete it despite carrying a full infantry loadout. However, Phule's company finishes even faster since "full combat conditions" means they can blow up or destroy every obstacle in their way, something the Red Eagles hadn't considered. Rather unusually for this trope, the Red Eagles don't object, once their Captain points out that they could have done the same thing.
Meaningful Name: Legionnaires are generally known by their Legion names, names they chose upon enlisting. Some examples include Escrima, for his fighting style, and the Sinthians Spartacus & Louie, who come from opposite social classes and named themselves after the famous rebel slave and Louis the XIV, respectively.
Mildly Military: The Omega Squad, though it's used for good once Phule takes over.
Military Brat: Lieutenant Armstrong, apparently; he's one of the more militarily formal Legionnaires as a result.
The first in the series is either the obstacle course or the massing-of-Mob-members-at-the-airstrip moment, both in the first book. First, when the Mob demonstrated that they (and their leader's methods) weren't completely worthless; second when they fully demonstrate their solidarity/loyalty to their new captain.
They also get off a good one in the second book when Max kidnaps Phule but neglects to do anything to neutralize the Legionnaires. As Beeker comments, this essentially removes every brake they had.
Do-Wop and Sushi, for one, the former being hot-blooded, short-tempered, easy-going (when not being Hot Blooded), and impulsive, while the latter starts out like The Stoic (becoming The Smart Guy), is technically adept, and good enough to talk his way out of a riot and into the Yakuza. Of course, they initially dislike each other and attempt to get re-assigned to new pairs, but by the end of the book they're breaking and entering for the good of the Mob. To varying degrees, most of the rest of The Squad is like this as well.
Servile Snarker: Beeker has been known to crack wise on occasion. A good example from Phule's Paradise after Phule accepted Rembrandt's choices of actors without looking her files over and telling her to make her strongest instinct her final decision:
Phule: "What you're trying to say, in your traditionally subtle way of course, is that you think I was a little hard on Rembrandt just now. Right?"
Beeker: "I suppose from your point of view, sir, you were being quite tolerant. I mean, you could have had her stood up against a wall and shot."
Shown Their Work: Book 2 could easily have been called A Phule's Guide to Fleecing a Casino.
Shrinking Violet: Rose/Violet/Mother off-radio; her first Legion name (Violet) directly references this trope.
Simple Staff: Escrima named himself after the Filipino stick-fighting style he's highly adept in.
Sleeves Are for Wimps: Chocolate Harry... convinces... the tailor that Phule hires that his custom-designed uniform does not need to have sleeves.
Take That: After Asprin ran into Real Life trouble with the IRS, an absolutely vicious tax-agency subplot appeared in A Phule and His Money.
Terra Deforming: Phule's Errand introduces the planet Ron'n'art which is totally roofed over, up to a mile from the surface, making it an extreme example of a Planet City. Ron'n'art is noted as having a richly deserved reputation for decadence, corruption, and paralysis of every agency. If it weren't for the robots and automated systems, nothing would get done and everyone would starve.
Unskilled, but Strong: Tuskanini. When he picks a fight with Brandy because of remarks toward Super Gnat, he actually gets beaten. When Super Gnat hears of this, she comments that simply being big and tough isn't enough against someone like Brandy.
Workaholic: Phule. Seemed to have reached a major point in Phule's Paradise, to a point where he'd spent so much time focusing on both preparing the Fat Chance for its opening as well as handing company-related issues that he made the best of his kidnapping by getting some much needed sleep.
You No Take Candle: Subverted. Tuskanini learned the language manually instead of relying on Translator Microbes, and Phule realizes that even speaking stilted English is a sign of exceptional intelligence.