Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Satiric Sci-Fi in the tradition of Harrison and Adams.

Starship Grifters

By Robert Kroese

Publisher: 47North 

Pub. Date: May 6, 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Robert Kroese is one of the funniest writers currently putting ink to paper. His Mercury trilogy was a sublime mix of Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore. In Starship Grifters, Kroese turns his attention from fantasy to science fiction and shows he is still one funny SOB. Starship Grifters is a bit of a throwback to the 50s and 60s space operas. To be precise, it is a bit of a tribute to the satirical sci-fi novels of Harry Harrison, such as Bill, The Galactic Hero and the Stainless Steel Rat series. This should come to no surprise to Kroese since he dedicated the novel to Mr. Harrison. In this very funny and somewhat irreverent novel, The title also gives a tip of the pulp science fiction hat to Heinlein's Starship Troopers. The author follows the adventures of Rex Nihilo, a not so bright galactic con-man as narrated by his faithful sidekick android SASHA (Self-Arresting near-Sentient Heuristic Android). Everyone is this 30th century universe is as smart as a Martian rock so it is no surprise that Sasha narrates this with sardonic humility and perhaps a little surprised that Rex and the rest of the carbon based races has gotten this far. The basic plot involves Rex having won a planet...and a staggering debt attached to it... and then conjuring a plot to avoid being tortured for a million years on the prison planet of Gulagatraz. It's a convoluted plot that includes a lot of memory repression. (Rex: "Does it hurt?" Sasha: 'You won't remember a thing."). As funny as it is, Kroese's gift, as is Adams' and Moore's, is the ability to catch the quirks and inconsistencies of human nature. But if satiric sociopolitical commentary isn't your thing, don't fret. Starship Grifters is above all else an exciting and hilarious literary escape. Starship Grifters will be adored by the lovers of humorous sci-fi but is enjoyable for anyone who like funny satires.

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