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Starship Grifters

(Rex Nihilo #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,004 ratings  ·  307 reviews
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
Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by 47North
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  2,004 ratings  ·  307 reviews

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David Katzman
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ah, space farce. Not a common genre and not many can do it well. Starship Grifters is a cut above—with more hits than misses—yet not without its flaws. It landed some big laughs and that was a treat.

The Holy Grail* of space comedy is The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, of course. Frankly, nothing can touch it. Douglas Adams was a literary treasure, like Flann O'Brien, and I loved all his works including the Dirk Gently series and his final book Last Chance to See about endangered species
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely bonkers. This was so much fun. :D

Rex Nihilo is a space-faring ne’er-do-well that has a penchant for getting himself, and his faithful robot sidekick Sasha, into trouble. And for getting out of said trouble in the most ridiculous manner. Just to get the both of them into yet more trouble.

This time he wins a planet in a poker game. By cheating, of course. Unfortunately, though, that planet isn’t only a worthless piece of space junk, it also brings with it an outstanding debt of 1.6 bill
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of classic deep space sci-fi, Mel Brooks movies and/or Kurt Vonnegut
Seriously, this was one of the funniest books I've read since A Confederacy of Dunces. It's basically a sci-fi epic concerning the misadventures of Rex Nihilo, as seen through the eyes of his assistant robot Sasha - who, by the way, is unable to lie and therefore painfully honest at times. She also has a failsafe preventing her from forming independent thought, which is one of the many running gags throughtout the novel (others include Rex' failing memory and his increasingly absurd misnaming of ...more
Oct 27, 2017 marked it as dnf
Shelves: z2017, 1audio
DNF at ~40% of the audiobook.

I might come back at a later time to see this one to the end, as it could be that I just wasn't in the right mood for this type of humour right now.

I had a lot of trouble with the narrator on this one. I thought she was PERFECT while doing the first person narration aspects of the robot, but I couldn't stand some of the other voices she did (mainly male). I don't complain about narrators very often, and have several female narrators I really like, but this time I th
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Not as funny as HHGTTG but not bad either.

(view spoiler)
Rhett Bruno
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book opened me up to an entire sub-genre I didn't think I would enjoy. Sci-fi farce/comedy. I've never been one to enjoy comedic fiction as I've always found the genre is better suited for TV or Movies. Boy was I wrong.

This book is a hilarious romp through a far-future galaxy that exposes some of the ridiculous throughout the Star Wars Saga and in science fiction in genre. That's not to say this is dumb, however, If anything it's quite the opposite. Mr. Kroese is a brilliant writer. Even w
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Starship Grifters is a hilarious trip through space with many jokes and references to other sci-fi properties probably just barely passing copyright inspection. Although the publisher's summary of the book made it sound a little cheesy to me, I had faith this would be worth it from reading Robert Kroese's previous works, and in the first couple pages I found the usual smart-ass humor and smart writing I expected. Although the robot companion Sasha narrates the book and provides amusing asides he ...more
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014, kindle, arc
I'm fairly new to the Sci-Fi genre. I've read Hitchhicker and Fuzzy Nation. This book felt similar to me. The humor, the crazy, rebellious antics. I love Rex Nihilo. I want to be Rex Nihilo. He has a way of making things turn out in his favor, even when he's trying to make it go sour.
If you want a synopois, you'll have to read another review.
I'm just letting you know that you won't be sorry for picking up this book.
I've been a big fan of Robert Kroese's books since the first Mercury. His abil
 Simply Sam ツ
This book was corny and silly and cheesy....and I loved every single minute of it! It's very close to 5 stars for me. Very close.

I've never read a space farce, so I have nothing else to compare it to, but I have most definitely watched movies of the genre. This played out in my head exactly like the movies I've seen. Ridiculous situations, illogical logic, and just over the top shenanigans.

I may have time later to write a full review, but for now I just want to say: if you like space fantasy a
Jason Parent
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amusing, like a cross between Spaceballs and Hitchhiker's Guide, with some jokes that fall short and other that really hit the mark. A fun read. ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
“But has money ever made you truly happy?” “No,” said Rex. “But the lack of it has made me unhappy, and I’m pretty good at extrapolating."

This book was over-the-top silly, quite cheesy, and a lot of fun.
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
To state any possible bias upfront, I got a copy of this novel to read prior to publication because Robert Kroese had seen a review I'd written of one of his other novels on here, and asked if I'd like to read this one prior to publication. On the one hand, this may bias me towards enjoying the book; on the other, I imagine the fact that I enjoyed his previous work may have had something to do with why he'd like me to read his new stuff, so I may have already been biased in his favor.

Starship Gr
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read. , awesome audio option

I both read and listens to this book. It is fun to listen to as the reader makes voices for the characters. It is a good read too. I highly recommend it.
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 se ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star, sf
The answer is yes.
The question? Should I read this book?

Funny SF is tricky. Funny SF that holds up over an entire novel is a rarity. The writing in this book is sharp, tight, and clever. I laughed out loud enough to lose track of tally or occurrence. In a word, this novel is SMART.

Robert Kroese delivers an action-stuffed SF adventure packed with funny acronyms, believable and outlandish characters, and a plot with more twists than a page of calligraphy or a barrel of monkey tails. Set in a futur
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. There were several moments I had to put it down for a few seconds because I was laughing so hard. It was really really funny!

I liked the concept, the characters, the wordplay, puns, and witty dialogue and descriptions.

Where this book let me down was how sometimes the attempts at humor were a little hamfisted. It was relentless, beating me over the head, until I eventually became numb to it. But then something would happen, maybe a line or two of dialogue, or whatever,
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
The best way I can think to describe it is if Christopher Moore would have writing a story in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe. Also it reminded me a lot of the old Mel Brook movies!

Really entertaining book about the space adventures of our hero(?) Rex Nihilo and his sidekick Sasha the robot! lots and lots of humor (maybe a bit too much?) and fun characters doing the most ridiculous and dumb decisions possible as they try to blow up a planet, seriously the only one that seem to have
Philip McClimon
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Better than three shots of Pheelsophine! This is an epic space romp. It's Buck Rogers meets Space Balls meets Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy. The jokes range from the subtle and cerebral to corny groaners but always kept me smiling. Rex keeps so many balls in the air he is never sure of how it will all play out but is sure it will all turn out fine. This is high space adventure, theatre of the absurd amongst the stars. I did not see the ending coming and that made for a nice surprise to a very ...more
Medeia Sharif
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rex Nihilo is a bumbling conman who thankfully has a wonderful, loyal, competent robot sidekick named Sasha. He gets into lots of trouble swindling others, gambling, and winning a useless planet in a poker game. To evade a life of endless torture and imprisonment, he gallivants through space in the most hilarious manner. The story is told through Sasha, who is the levelheaded one in all this. STARSHIP GRIFTERS is a unique sci-fi tale that took me on a wild ride. I didn’t want it to end.
Robert 'Rev. Bob'
Absolutely hilarious. There's a lot of Star Wars parody in here, but that's certainly not all there is to the novel. Every time you think things can't possibly get any more bizarre, they do just that.

Very well done, and now I'll have to pick up the prequel short story while hoping more material is on its way.
Curtis Edmonds
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
You have probably seen that video where Kurt Vonnegut, that Grand Old Master of lunatic science fiction his own bad self, draws out the arcs of stories. (If you have not, it is at What the arcs do is go up and down over time, like sine waves. And that is how things are supposed to work.

I do not know if Robert Kroese has ever seen that video, but if you sat down and drew a story arc for STARSHIP GRIFTERS, it would start off in an arc, and swing round
Mary Catelli
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Action, adventure, and con games in outer space!

From the point of view of his long-suffering robot Sasha, the comic adventures of Rex Nihilo, shortly after he wins an APPLE -- Alien Planet Perplexingly Like Earth -- in a card game. And discovers it comes with a lien of over a billion credits.

His exploits attempting to save him from the debtors' prison of the galaxy include a forest moon that has about one tree, a Knight of Chaotic Equilibrium, a rebellion against the Malarchy, the question of a
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bring on book two! I loved this crazy space romp. Any lead character that can confuse his evil captors into letting him go is enjoyable to me. It was silly, and clever and made me giggle.
Rex is ridiculous, this entire universe is ridiculous, some of the jokes fall a little flat, but they come fast and furious and most of them are awesome, so the book was just a fabulous romp from one side of Euclidean space to the other.
Jeffrey Schmieder
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very funny science fiction with inside jokes throughout the book. And poor Sasha having to put up with Rex. She really is a saint, or the worst enabler ever.
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
What did I just read? And why did I like it so much?

Starship Grifters is a crazy story about a gambling, alcoholic, con-artist and his robot assistant that accidentally become owners of a planet that put them deep in debt and smack-dab in the center of a conflict between the current galactic empire and the rebels who want to overthrow it.

There are character names like Rex Nihilo and General Issimo, the Malarchy Empire, and the prison planet Gulagatraz. There are borrowed quotes from The Hitchhi
Gerri Leen
Oh what fun this book is. I totally, totally needed to laugh--and the fact that this book did make me laugh given the month I'm having is astounding. And I laughed a lot, out loud, not just the "that's cute" inside laugh. This is the perfect mix of parody, silliness, and genuine love of the genre. If I had to compare it to something in terms of tone, it'd probably be Galaxy Quest or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but it is derivative of neither. Wonderful voice on the part of the narrator, Sas ...more
Roy Hessinger
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Full disclosure: I was given an early copy to review.

This book has everything you need for a science fiction book: Imperial Rulers (bad guys), small rebel band, gambling, prison planet, bounty hunters, and a religious sect or "hockey religion".

It also has everything you need in a satire; it makes fun of all of them sometimes at the same time.

The characters all seem deeply flawed in so many ways, but not really in the same ways. The only one that is remotely normal is the narrator named Sasha, a
Andrew Rose
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was hilarious. The author admits he owes a debt to Harry Harrison and you can definitely see the Stainless Steel Rat and Bill the Galactic Hero peeking out, but he also borrows from across the humorous genre with a bit of Adams and even some Pratchett footnotes thrown in. Rex Nihio, scam artist extraordinaire, and his robotic sidekick win a planet, get chased by bounty hunters, get recruited by the rebell...oops, almost got sued, Revolting Front, lets money flow into and out of his han ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've gotta say, Robert Kroese wrote a book almost completely out of gags, gimmicks, and word play - and it works. This book is a knee slapping, hee haw of a good time. It went from being on the back of my toilet, to the doctors office and people were looking at me kind of funny cause I was laughing so hard. Don't be jealous, folks. Go get yourself a copy of this book, and you'll be laughing too. Starship Grifters is like Spaceballs meets Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (which I've never read, bu ...more
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is fun, really fun. If you like your heroes of the Han Solo variety - but about a 100 times more narcissistic and neurotic - robots that don't get respect, oddball evil empires, side-switching storm-trooper-styled sidekicks, goofy villains and a cameo by head-turning headhunter Pepper Melange (gotta love the Dune reference), then this book is a perfect scifi comedy. It makes for a fast paced totally over-the-top spoof of Star Wars and Spaceballs and has some truly memorable moments, es ...more
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Robert Kroese's sense of irony was honed growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan - home of the Amway Corporation and the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and the first city in the United States to fluoridate its water supply. In second grade, he wrote his first novel, the saga of Captain Bill and his spaceship Thee Eagle. This turned out to be the high point of his academic career. After barely graduating from ...more

Other books in the series

Rex Nihilo (3 books)
  • Aye, Robot (Starship Grifters #2)
  • The Wrath of Cons (Rex Nihilo, #3)

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