Book Review: Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Starship Grifters (A Rex Nihilo Adventure)My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Star Wars spoof that takes its pointers from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Month Python.

Rex Nihilo, a handsome space hustler thinks his luck is on the up when he wins a planet and a starship in a card game. Only when he arrives on his new planet, he finds it is just a featureless rock, and that he has inherited a huge debt of billions of space credits. Rex quickly devises a plan of action, avoid getting caught by bounty hunters, avoid getting locked up on the prison planet, Gulagataraz, scam money from the Rebel Frente by selling them a non-existent cloaking technology, whilst trying to trick the Heinous Vlaak of the Malarchian Empire to blow up his planet so that he can claim billions of credits back in Development Grants. Except nothing ever seems to go to plan, coupled with the fact the Rex is certifiably insane.

The story is told entirely from the perspective of Sasha, Rex’s sidekick robot/droid, who is limited by the fact that she has been factory fitted to switch for several minutes every time she is on the cusp of an original idea or achieving sentience. Whilst it may seem like a risky strategy to cast a non-organic life-form as the point-of-view character, Kroese manages to pull it off by giving Sasha a witty intelligence and a unique perspective of every situation. Had he chosen to tell the story from Rex’s point-of-view, it is quiet likely that the reader would have been driven mad.

Starship Grifters lampoons the plot of Star Wars (A New Hope), complete with a bust up starship (the Flagrante Delicto, a Death Star equivalent that has a single weakness (The Peace Fortress), a rebel princess (Princess Willie), a two-faced ally (Gavin Larviton) and let us not forget the Chaotic Equilibrium (or the Force), wielded by a senile old man who claims to be the last of a group of mystic knights. This does not detract from the enjoyment you’ll get from reading this book one bit. Everything from the book cover to the last page is a homage to that period of science fiction and is crafted together in a bizarre but believable galaxy/universe.

I am certain that people who read this particular sub-genre of comedy/sf will thoroughly enjoy this book. Personally, I wouldn’t normally go for a book like this, but despite that found myself enjoying it thoroughly.


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