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Aye, Robot (A Rex Nihilo Adventure) (Starship Grifters) (Volume 2) Paperback – March 7, 2017
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Top customer reviews
All joking aside, fans of the Starship Grifters won't want to miss the second outing of my favorite reluctant con-machine. Seriously, even though I funded the Kickstarter for it, I went ahead and purchased a copy (see verified purchase note) so I could read it when the Kickstarter download didn't work.
If the author wants to refund my purchase price, please send a check to Gab. They like plucky characters who mock sacred cows and establishment stuffed shirts over there, too. Comparisons to the Stainless Steel Rat stories, by the way, miss that these books have more humor and world-building, but less action-adventure story. It's more like the original Xanth series, back when that was, well, original. And funny.
Rex Nihilo is still narcissistic and shallow, Sasha is still long-suffering and *almost* sentient, the S'postles are still aggravating and ubiquitous, and the Malarchy is still incompetent. Oh, and Pepper is still the hottest and smartest individual in the entire galaxy.
Fortunately, with all that being the same, the story is *not* a retread but a logical (if logic can be said to apply to this universe) continuation and genuine (if anything can said to be genuine in this universe) expansion of the story and the characters.
With the two books (and two novellas) in this series, Robert Kroese makes a case to be the legitimate successor of Douglas Adams. This book is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I guffawed many, many times. Buy it, read it, love it.
And boy, is the crazy still with us in Aye, Robot.
Believe it or not, this is the more straightforward plot of the two novels. While Starship Grifters was covered a a surface layer of choas, with everything as a jumble until the magician showed us the con.
Now, the story is more of a straight line.
.... Except we open perhaps a week into the events of the novel, spend half of the book with 76-hours earlier (estimated). Our heroes have lost their memory, trip over a pirate ship, cargo, and a weapon to control the universe.
Why, yes, Aye, Robot is just as insane as Starship Grifters, why do you ask?
In Starship Grifters, memory and the twist at the end were constants throughout the novel. Now, we're going to play more games with each, following up on both of them far more. I'm not going to say I was cheated out of anything, but after Starship Grifters, I was not going to trust Aye, Robot as far as I could throw it. There wasn't a massive twist at the end like I expected, but I didn't miss it. I was happy with a relatively straightforward line.
It was interesting to see that Rex might have a bit of character development in this one. Instead of the insane, random firing of neurons that ended up in a successful conclusion of the novel, Rex has reasons for doing what he does. Most of his reasons even make sense.
Rex's faithful robot companion, Sasha, is also getting more of a character. It's fascinating.
And we also have the return of the bounty hunter Pepper Melange ... yes, really ... who I always saw as Scarlet Johansson. She all but stole the last one, but was gracious enough to not seal this novel from Rex and Sasha.
Four and a half out of five star stars for Aye, Robot.
But we don't do points, so level up to five.
Let's stipulate that the plot of Aye, Robot is silly--something about Rex saving humanity from the threat of universal happiness at the hands of a twisted cult. But the plot exists only as a vessel for the humor. Aye, Robot is a comic romp, pure and simple. It's packed with jokes, puns, inside references, madcap situations and general silliness. This kind of humor is difficult to pull off well, but Kroese makes it look easy.
If I have one gripe, it's with the character of Pepper Melange--the kick-ass bad girl with a heart of gold. The author doesn't do enough with her, and he didn't take the opportunity to flesh out this really promising character. Just imagine the comic possibilities if Sasha ever suspected Pepper had a thing for Rex and then Sasha attempted to act out on her jealous robotic feelings. Didn't happen, though. Maybe next time, and I do hope there's a next time and that Mr. Kroese isn't quite through with Rex Nihilo.
A quick word about the cover. I don't judge books by their covers, and I generally don't care about them, but the covers for both Starship Grifters and Aye, Robot are fantastic. Major props to the artist who created them.