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Publisher's Summary

A space-faring ne'er-do-well with more bravado than brains, Rex Nihilo plies the known universe in a tireless quest for his own personal gain. But when he fleeces a wealthy weapons dealer in a high-stakes poker game, he ends up winning a worthless planet - and owing an outstanding debt more vast than space itself!

The only way for Rex to escape a lifetime of torture on the prison world Gulagatraz is to score a big payday by pulling off his biggest scam. But getting mixed up in the struggle between the tyrannical Malarchian Empire and the plucky rebels of the Revolting Front - and trying to double-cross them both - may be his biggest mistake. Luckily for Rex, his frustrated but faithful robot sidekick has the cyber-smarts to deal with buxom bounty hunters, pudgy princesses, overbearing overlords, and interstellar evangelists - while still keeping Rex’s martini glass filled.

©2014 Robert Kroese (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    617
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    500
  • 3 Stars
    216
  • 2 Stars
    48
  • 1 Stars
    34

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    819
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    335
  • 3 Stars
    120
  • 2 Stars
    29
  • 1 Stars
    20

Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    520
  • 4 Stars
    453
  • 3 Stars
    239
  • 2 Stars
    65
  • 1 Stars
    39
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  • Story

Sometimes you just gotta give a book a chance!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. Most of my friends enjoy comedy and sci fi and this book is a great combination of the two. There are many subtle word play jokes that are hidden pop culture references. ("I sense a disturbance in the floors.") If you are a fan of Christopher Moore Novels or Mel Brooks films this is a book for you!

What did you like best about this story?

I really enjoyed the nihilistic attitude of the two main characters Rex & Sasha. Sasha has more of a conscious than most but still has no qualms about vaporizing a guy if it helps out their interests. Rex on the other hand takes down right glee in exploiting others and feeds off of absolute chaos.

What does Kate Rudd bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Kate Rudd delivers a good performance and delivers Sasha's lines in great dead pan fashion and does a good job at making her voice robotic but not too much that it is boring with no inflection so she found a good middle ground.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I wouldn't say moved per se... but it had me legitimately belly laughing quite a few times. <br/>I gave this book 5 stars for the many times that this book made me laugh. I really hope that there are more of this series to hit audible.

Any additional comments?

Rex Nihilo is like an alterverse version of Zapp Brannigan from Futurama but more violent and slightly smarter. If you enjoy a good funny man/ straight man act then this book is for you.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Star Wars meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

What made the experience of listening to Starship Grifters the most enjoyable?

The voices she used were spot on for each character.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

A little shorter. Some of the scenes after the silly or the action part kinda dragged on.

Have you listened to any of Kate Rudd’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Star Wars meets Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Any additional comments?

If you want to read/listen to a cross between Star Wars, Hitchhiker's Guide, and Spaceballs this is the book for you.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 11-16-15

Genre Mash-Up

Where do you start with the sci-fi references? The title is the first clue, substituting grifters for troopers. Then there is the dedication to Harry Harrison, whose characters are direct ancestors to Rex Nihilo. The style is a dead giveaway, a direct descendant of the great Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (No surprise then that in an interview, the three authors Robert Kroese mentions are Robert Heinlein, Douglas Adams and Harrison.) And in case you miss the Stars Wars parallels, there's the joke about something causing a commotion in the floor beneath their feet -- yes folks, they feel a "disturbance in the floors".

And so Kroese wisecracks his way through outer space with dimwitted forked-tongue con man Rex Nihilo, his robot sidekick Sasha, and an odd assortment of spaced-out characters as they navigate a suitably improbable series of humorous escapades. Basically, it's what the Han Solo story might have been like before Luke and Old Ben showed up at the cantina, told in the cadence of Douglas Adams (though it is really more like an update of Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat).

I've panned similarly derivative efforts in the past, especially in the sci-fi genre, even when it was the usually innovative Hugh Howey writing. Why re-do what has already been done so well? My one caveat: unless you come up with some good new jokes or characters. Kroese does that well enough to earn 3 1/2 stars, as reflected in the average of the overall and story ratings, the weakness lying in the plot, the strength in the humor and characters.

Well, one of the characters in particular -- Sasha, the android, the first person narrator who cannot lie (although she can selectively choose her truths) and who is programmed to black out whenever she has an original thought. She is a pleasure to listen to, especially as vocalized by Kate Rudd. This is the best thing audio can bring to a book -- the narrator creating a better voice than the one in your own head. In this case, it is Kate Rudd as the charming, charismatic, deadpan Sasha.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • mary
  • San Antonio, TX, United States
  • 08-18-15

A funny tale

This story is a what if. What if there was a law against AI computers? What if there was a weird way for starships to travel faster then light? What if those door to door religious folk can travel in space? What if these religious folk can knock on the door of your space ship? What if there is a scam artist who lives only for the next deal? What if this same scam artist can somehow convince logical people into illogical ideas and behaviors? Well add all this up and you have this book. The story is told from the view point of Sasha, a robot with a female personality. Not the sexy, know it all type of robot. A robot who starts to tell the tale with a discussion on why robots are not allowed to be smarter then humans. Robots are not allowed to have independent thought. If any occurs the robot has a built in reboot. The story is predictable. The question is not what is going to happen. The question is how it is going to happen. That is what makes this tale so entertaining. I enjoyed this tale a lot. I especially liked the Sp'ossels. Space apostles whose religion centers on outer space. This is an enjoyable listen with a different type of ending.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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This is funny, but that's all...

What would have made Starship Grifters better?

The characters are entirely flat and serve no other purpose than to either deliver set-ups or punchlines. It's a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch, not a story.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The entire book is very funny. The laughs are definitely in there.

Any additional comments?

This is a funny book. But story, pacing, characterization, and structure are all sacrificed at the altar of humor. It's just an endless series of slapstick Benny Hill action sequences with Abbott and Costello repartee.<br/><br/>It wants to be a Douglas Adams book very badly, but just doesn't deliver.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • Little Rock, AR, United States
  • 07-16-16

Genre Entertainment

Any additional comments?

An entertaining book that has its moments of laugh out loud funny. I, and you dear review reader, won't regret picking this book up if it sounds good to you. However, there are other books out there that do everything this one did, but better. See: Willful Child

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • Poulsbo, WA, United States
  • 03-18-16

Star Wars meets Hitchikers Guide

Would you listen to Starship Grifters again? Why?

Probably not, but I enjoyed the lighthearted trip the first time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Either Rex, our anti hero, or Sasha his robotic side kick

Which scene was your favorite?

Lots of clever scenes and I carefully avoid spoilers, but when Rex shoots one of his troops with his laser gun to teach him a lesson (saying to his side kick, its ok, I have it on "stun") and the mans head explodes, his sidekick informs him that his gun doesnt have a "stun" option.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not really, mostly just a fun romp

Any additional comments?

Guilty pleasure.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Why i love this book but also despise it.

The reason i found this book is because i had just finished all the Hitchhikers books by Douglas Adams. and i was so desperate for more Hitchhikers style humor.

Now lets get to what wasn't so good about it. and MAN there is a metric ton worth of crummy stuff about this book. the whole thing takes place in three to four locations. and if
i hear "plot a course to the forest moon" one more time i'm going to murder Robert kroese.

The author uses the main character being slightly insane as an excuse for almost anything.
the ending is rather clever but it feels a bit shoe-horned in there and it rather de-values the rest of the book a bit.

in conclusion this book is a stinking pile of garbage that has Hitchhikeresk humor smeared all over it like butter on general isimo. and i can't resist it... buy this book now.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Woderful, fun ride.

Kroese answers the the delicious question of " What if ... Douglas Adams had rewritten Asimov's Foundation, after binge watching the original Star Wars trilogy"?

No Memory Repression required after reading, and it most certainly won't hurt.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Sasha is my new Space Hero!

Rex Nihilo thinks he savvy and smart and no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince him otherwise. Luckily, this robot sidekick (and keeper), Sasha, is able to navigate a safe-ish path for both of them…. most of the time.

This was a very, very fun book. The humor reminds me a bit of Douglas Adams but better because nearly all of it is delivered in Sasha’s dead straight manner. She is a robot after all. This book is clever. The dialogue is witty, the characters are fleshed out, the plot is carried through. And I snicker-snort laughed my way through it. Sasha is the perfect character to deliver much of the humor in this book in that straight, matter-of-fact voice of hers.

Sasha is one of those nearly independent thinking robots. Someone somewhere at some time decided it was a bad idea to have sentient robots roaming the galaxy, so a governor was installed in them that monitors for individual and original thoughts and if any are detected, the robot is shut down for 15 seconds and a small part of its memory wiped. So, every time Sasha is on the verge of an independent thought, she shuts down for 15 seconds only to come back to it with no recall of what she was thinking or about to say. This little gimmick added to the humor of the book quite a bit.

The story starts off with a card game in which Rex unwisely bets his entire wealth, as little as it is. Then we wins some hands, and a few more, and the rich guy he’s up against starts making ludicrous bets – his ship, and then a planet he owns. Rex wins, much to the amazement of nearly everyone, just in time for a ruckus to start. Rex and Sasha flee in the newly won space ship, Flagrante Delicto. Meanwhile, Sasha who is always cogitating if not outright thinking, has discovered that Rex’s new planet is actually in arrears on some taxes. So he is now in a great amount of debt. The kind of debt that attracts bounty hunters.

But he has bigger problems that that right now (at least until Pepper Melange in her ship Bad Little Kitty shows up). As circumstances evolve, he gets sucked into the conflict between the Malarchian army and the revolutionary Revolting Front. He makes promises he can’t possibly keep to both sides. Rex is a total scoundrel and Sasha keeps him alive and sometimes makes him look competent.

There were just so many fun parts in this book. At one point, Sasha takes a pretty heavy hit to the face, which does some damage to her face plate. She and the guard start up a conversation about armor and what works best for both protecting and damaging. I swear, they were flirting! And Sasha deserves a fun date.

The ending had a surprise twist that was cleverly done. There’s definitely more going on with some of these characters! I’m really hoping for more Sasha/Rex adventures.

The Narration: Kate Rudd was perfect for this book. Since everything is told through Sasha’s eyes, Rudd maintained this polite yet just-the-facts voice for the entire book. It was perfect for delivering the humor. Of course she did character voices for whenever someone else was speaking and she kept them all quite distinct. There’s an evil villain who is described as having a screechy voice and Rudd did that one quite well – definitely a screech but not so much that it got on my nerves. I also liked her sexy voice for Pepper.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Slyboots
  • 12-26-16

Good old fashioned schlock

What made the experience of listening to Starship Grifters the most enjoyable?

The narration was spot on - bearing in mind that the narrator is both a robot and a great deal smarter than the 'lead' character.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Starship Grifters?

The denouement. It was quite unexpected and I just hope the author hasn't made it impossible to write any follow-ups.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

There are too many excellent scenes in a book of this length to easily pick one, but any scene with Rex so drunk or incompetent his loyal robot has to do his thinking for him will do.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

It's not an especially moving book, although it does have its moments.

Any additional comments?

This is a good long audio book and if you like old-school sci-first done with a good dollop of humour it's well worth checking out. It will never win awards, but it kept me amused for quite a few hours of DIY and I resorted to it again when painting and decorating was needed. That's surely a book which has earned its keep!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • victoria
  • 08-16-17

Awful!

What was most disappointing about Robert Kroese’s story?

It wasn't funny

Would you be willing to try another one of Kate Rudd’s performances?

No

Any additional comments?

I bought this book because a few people said it was very funny, I was hoping it might be as clever and witty as 'Hitchhikers guide' but it was dreary.<br/>Maybe the written book comes across better. The narrator drove me mad and I found I was unable to listen to it. I am sending it back.

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  • Geode
  • 12-02-16

Awful

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

I can't honestly think of anyone. The narration was terrible and the 20 minutes I endured made me come to the conclusion I would even want to read it. <br/>Saying this I do enjoy reading SF and I love listening to Audio Books so I feel it is a shame.<br/>

Has Starship Grifters put you off other books in this genre?

SF no ..Everything by Robert Kroese and Kate Rudd yes!

Would you be willing to try another one of Kate Rudd’s performances?

Only if it was mime..

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Sadly not.. It is a poor imitation of Rex Branagan off of Futurama and Futurama does it better.

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  • EGR
  • 04-14-16

Hysterically screeching reader

I bought this because I've enjoyed all the other books by Robert Kroese.
Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it when the female reader suddenly decided that, in order to impersonate the voice of one of the male characters, she needed to raise her own voice by an octave and start screeching and wailing.

There seems to be an increasing trend among readers to imagine they are voicing a cartoon show, which is a shame when it spoils the hard work that an author has put into developing a plot and characters.

As a fan of Robert Kroese, I'm hoping that at some point, this will be re-released, voiced by someone with a better understanding of the requirements of an audio book reader.