Review of August Kitko and the Mechas from Space (The Starmetal Symphony #1) by Alex White
White's first Starmetal Symphony installment offers deadly deep-space robots, showcases the power of music, and illustrates how love can persist even in the face of imminent demise. I loved the main characters' fashion, banter, and stubbornness.
In the first book in Alex White's Starmetal Symphony space opera series, Gus is a jazz pianist whose biggest hope for the pending end of the world was to play at the most epic goodbye party of all time. After all, the Vanguards, giant, deadly AI robots, are headed from deep space to destroy Earth at any moment.
But when the Vanguards arrive, the sudden, brutal ending Gus has envisioned for himself doesn't happen. Instead, Gus and a few other Earthlings are pulled in by a small group of traitorous Vanguards--and tasked with being modified, temporarily melded with the robots, battling other robots--and saving all of humanity.
I really liked the way music is a key and powerful element; how working together benefits all; the quirky characters and their banter; the presence of giant fighting robots (they are not imbued with personality but are battle machines with infinite knowledge); and the fight for love in this LGBTQ space opera.
My obsession with the irresistible dry humor, grudging and undying loyalty, and love for the series The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon on the part of Martha Wells's Murderbot (check out my rave review in Six Great Stories about Robots, Humans and Alien Life, and AI) may have ruined me for all other robot characters forever.
But August Kitko isn't about the robots from space. The robots and the imminent demise of the human race that they seem perched to enact serve as a catalyst for the main characters to assess their own purposes and consider what makes life worth living. They forge desperate human connections and struggle with loss and an uncertain future, and I loved the impractical, invigorating, stubborn love in the book.
There's a light tone running through the heightened, saving-the-universe tension, along with entertaining, offbeat fashion, which is vividly described. (There is also a copious amount of goopy fluids described--they are dispersed both in battle and in the melding of humans and robots. I could feel my face contorting as I read about the immersive goo.)
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
I really enjoyed Alex White's Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe, the first in the Salvagers series--which I look forward to finishing. That first book in that space opera series offers diverse characters, strong women, a heist setup, and, ultimately, a ragtag group of underdogs saving the day.
I think it's time for me to read more Alex White books--I've heard that the alien novels The Cold Forge and Into Charybdis are great.
You might also like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Great Stories about Robots, Humans and Alien Life, and AI.