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Literature / Space Brat

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A series of children's books written by Bruce Coville about an alien named Blork. In Blork's society, babies and children are generally silent and well-behaved, but Blork had a bit of eggshell lodged behind his ear after he hatched, and wouldn't stop crying. Because of this, the computers labeled him "brat", and ever since he's been considered a brat all over his planet.

As you can imagine, growing up the go-to scapegoat among his peers left poor Blork terribly resentful. When everyone decides to blame you if a class pet gets loose and eats the furniture, or someone carves a swear word in the wall with lasers, life can be rough. It's a good thing that Blork can live up to his reputation when necessary — by throwing the loudest, wildest, most explosive tantrums in the galaxy!

The series consists of five books:

  • Space Brat (1992)
  • Space Brat 2: Blork's Evil Twin (1993)
  • Space Brat 3: The Wrath of Squat (1994)
  • Space Brat 4: Planet of the Dips (1995)
  • Space Brat 5: The Saber-Toothed Poodnoobie (1997)

This series provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Blork's tantrums, when no other options are present. He can throw them at will, but they're demonstrably more effective when he's legitimately hit his Rage-Breaking Point.
  • Abusive Alien Parents: Blork's species lays eggs and don't raise their own young. Rather, they have computers raise hatchlings instead.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the group finds themselves around the Planet of the Dips, Appus Meko doesn't want to go down because they could have all sorts of horrible things, such as huge monsters, weird diseases, or schools that don't have summer vacation.
  • Author Appeal: (Of an innocent sort) Bruce Coville, a former schoolteacher, adds features to the alien school system that are clearly idealized. In particular, it's considered common sense that no class can have more than 16 students, whereas in the current American system most classes have double or triple that number. Also, during a museum visit the teacher buys a "bubble of silence" which, when placed over someone's head, renders them mute.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Dips from the fourth book.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Lunk, and the canine-like Poodnoobies in general, who are big, sweet, lovable... and stupid.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Poodnoobies have three tongues, each with a different texture, including smooth and medium rough (the middle one).
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Blork.
  • The Bully: Appus Meko starts as one (and is at his absolute worst in book 2), but eventually undergoes character development and comes to be one of Blork's True Companions.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Blork's poodnoobie (a dog-like species), Lunk.
  • Cheek Copy: Variant in book 2 — while at the Museum of New Inventions, Blork finds what appears to be an ordinary copy machine in one room and starts making faces at its side (which is as reflective as a mirror). One face is so awful, he decides to make a copy of it, climbs onto the machine and hits the start button... which gets him dumped inside. Turns out the device was actually a "Complete Copier", which makes an exact duplicate of anything that gets put into it, and since it was set on Negative, Blork's Evil Twin Krolb is created as a result.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The ability to throw tantrums ends up coming in handy.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: The planet of the Dips, a race whose hat is mind-boggling stupidity.
  • Cosmetic Award: Blork is offered a medal from the Big Boss of Splat for stopping Krolb. He asks for a more practical reward, a space scooter, instead (and gets it); in book 3, he's told he's been invited to the Galactic Celebration to receive a medal from the Grand High Fimbul for the same thing. He's finally given it by his fellow Splatoonians at the end of the series, since his adventures in space led to his missing the event.
  • Evil Twin: When Blork gets into a complete copying machine in the second book, it makes a negative copy of him, named Krolb.
  • Expy: Some of the characters names are a spoof of those from Star Wars.
    • Old Bebop Kenoobie, a spoof of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
    • Yoo-Hoo, a spoof of Yoda.
  • Fat Best Friend: Lunk is a 350 pound Poodnoobie, and Blork's closest friend.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Squat's plot in book 3 is to force one of these between Blork and Lunk, then send Lunk (in Blork's body) to accept a medal at the Galactic Celebration. Due to Lunk's personality, everyone who sees Lunk-in-Blork will think Blork is a slobbering, drooling fool, making him the laughingstock of the galaxy. It gets reversed by the end of the book.
  • Fusion Dance: Blork and his evil twin Krolb fuse back into one by the end of book 2.
  • Gasshole: Lunk, and all Poodnoobies in general, tends to burp a lot. During his time in Lunk's body, Blork makes good use of this when he learns how to form his burps into actual words.
  • Jerkass: Squat, a diminutive space lord who fancies himself Blork's arch nemesis. Also pretty much everyone on the Planet of Cranky People.
  • King Incognito: Skippy, the Grand High Dip, who doesn't like to advertise his status.
  • Law of Alien Names: Played as straight as humanly possible.
  • Literal-Minded: The Dips named a building "The Topless Tower of Timboobia". The "topless" part is because they forgot to put a roof on when they built it.
  • Little Stowaway: Played with in book 4 — Skippy's a short adult rather than a kid, but he still manages to fit into a compartment of a ship leaving Snarf, the Planet of Cranky People. Also, he stowed away because he couldn't stand living on Snarf anymore, later explaining that he's "too cranky for [the Planet of the Dips], not cranky enough for that one".
  • Lizard Folk: The creatures Blork encounters in the first book in the series.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Lunk for Blork, Blabber (from book 2's finale onward) for Moomie Peevick. It's apparently a rule that every child can have one pet (or in the case of Gitzels, three since they're so small) as long as they take care of it.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Pimento, who invents a brain-switching machine, among other things.
  • May the Farce Be with You: Book #4 (Planet of the Dips) spoofed this. Among other things, there is a Yoda-like hermit with a similar-sounding name (Old Bebop Kenoobie), and his advice to the main character is "Use the farce, Blork!" During the climax, Blork does indeed use the farce: when he loses his trial by Skwishifroot, he also loses his temper and throws a massive tantrum. The resulting skwishifroot fight causes the Dips to have more fun in one day than they have in years, and they offer him anything he wants — except his Poodnoobie back. Blork realizes this was the farce that Kenoobie had told him to use, and he figures out a reward that, once it's achieved, lets him keep Lunk after all.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture: The main aliens are stereotypical green humanoids with antennae who hatch from eggs. Their children are raised by computers and public officials, and many other elements of their society are highly impersonal.
  • Overly Long Name: One of the residents of Snarf, the Planet of Cranky People, is revealed in book 4 to be named Skippy Dippy Ding-Dong Hooten Pooten Hopbong... the Third. (Which explains a lot about why he left his homeworld.) He normally just goes by Skippy.
  • Planet of Hats:
    • Book 3 introduces Snarf, the Planet of Cranky People. Dr. Pimento is noted as having once fit in until he fiddled with his own brain and accidentally made himself pretty cheerful, which is why he leaves with Blork and co. at the end of book 3.
    • Book 4 features the Planet of the Dips, home of some of the happiest and dumbest people in the galaxy. Their "Sacred Hall of Goofiness" even has a sign on its door that reads "Abandon All Common Sense, Ye Who Enter Here", and they're astounded that Blork and his friends can remember something until later without writing it down.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Blork and company encounter many of these in the fifth book when they are warped backwards in time to Splat during its prehistoric state.
  • Punny Name: Book 3 has appearances by the school's principal "Yellin Bello" and his secretary "Tayka Ledder".
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Surprising for a Coville book. Blork's species is pretty much physically identical to humans except for their green skin, lack of a nose and antennae.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Blork's evil clone in the second book is named Krolb.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In book 2, Blork's classmates Brillig and Mimsy Borogrove are introduced. Both names are references to words in the poem Jabberwocky.
    • Book 4 includes Star Wars references such as a character named "Old Bebop Kenoobie", who tells Blork to "Use the farce, Blork. Use the farce!"
  • Tantrum Throwing: It's practically his special power. Initially he just did it for attention and to get his way, but it's become key to solving some major problems in his life... such as dealing with Squat, stopping his evil twin and saving his friends.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Blork was labeled by the computer nanny as a brat soon after hatching from his egg, all due to his having a piece of shell stuck behind his antenna and crying in pain because of it (it eventually fell off so he was no longer in pain, but he was left permanently cranky because he'd never gotten the right amount of sleep for a Splatoonian baby). Since then, he was the boy who cried wolf, and constantly marked as an easy person to stick the blame on. After putting up with it for a while, he winds up throwing a temper tantrum at how unfair it all was, which was unheard of for his species. Which then gives him a very easy out for whenever he gets blamed for something from then on, leading to this trope.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Squat in the third book is much more of a genuine threat. Also, he Dual Wields laser guns and has three more on his belt, having learned from his mistake of having just one in his first appearance.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Seriously. Blork's rage is astronomic. It has altered landforms and changed entire societies' interstellar outlook.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Poodnoobies have six legs.
  • Whoopee Cushion: Book 4 includes "The Whoopee Cushion of Glory", located in the Sacred Hall of Goofiness on the Planet of the Dips.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Squat's ray gun in the first book, which gets bitten in half by the end (and Blork gets half of it on a plaque as a gift afterward).