Thursday, May 22, 2014

Book Review: Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Paperback, 242 pages

Published May 6th 2014 by 47north

From the look of the book the publishers are selling the idea of an old school 50’s or 60’s chezy pulp science fiction novel. Sounds good to me, I am a good choice to review this novel as I am a huge fan of weird old school Science fiction and I like sci-fi satire. This book is funny, very review, or promo material for this book will tell you how funny it is it would be easy to dismiss this as hyperbole. I am happy to say it is indeed funny. I laughed a lot reading it.

This is a bizarro science fiction that does get a lot of it laughs from high concept ideas and clever jokes based on long standing genre clich├ęs. One of my favorites was APPLE (A Planet Perpelxingly Like Earth). Funny concept that is a great satire of silly sci-fi stuff.

I am generally not a fan of first person narrative for entire novels but it works here as the story is told the point of view of the main character’s robot sidekick SASHA ( It stands for something I can’t remember). The non-hero is Rex Nihilo. He is a total loser who wins a planet and a boatload of debt in a card game. In order to save his skin, he manipulates both sides of a war, and various conflicts.

I enjoyed this book but it was far from perfect. As I started to read I assumed this was a first time author, but he actually has published a series before. I was instantly turned off as the author violated one of the golden rules of sci-fi writing in the first three pages. The novel starts with a massive info-dump and takes pages to actually get to the story. It was a review copy so I read on but had I picked up the book in the bookstore I may never have read it.

Info dumps read like encyclopedia entries and are a “what not to do” Example for poor world building. Thankfully I kept reading. For the most part I enjoyed this novel even after what I consider a rough start. That may sound nitpicky or harsh but the quality of the rest of novel is what makes the rocky start stand out.

Read it. I promise those looking for a creative bizarro laugh riot will be pleased.