AUGUST KITKO AND THE MECHAS FROM SPACE by Alex White.
Orbit Books. p/b. £8.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
It is three years since the last ship left Earth. In the midst of a war, a Veil is in place across the galaxy, preventing interstellar communications. Vanguard Juliette, the giant mecha, has already destroyed two worlds. It looks like Earth will be the next.
Lord Yamazaki’s Estate, Monaco. Jazz pianist August Kitko was here to play at the now cancelled victory party. As humanity faces its end, like many others, Gus comes here expecting to die. He waits by the famous Electric Orchard and has his world turned upside down before it is turned inside out. Not even the arrival of the Vanguard and the imminent end of Earth can turn his attention from Ardent Violet, the pop superstar.
Between Ardent and giant, robotic Vanguards plural, Gus’ life and he himself will be transformed forever. Our simple musician will find himself embroiled in battle, both physical and political, while his heartstrings are well and truly strummed.
August Kitko and the Mechas from Space takes space opera and makes it as loud and as brash and as confident as mega pop star Ardent Violet himself. The narrative moves at an excellent pace, and both characters take point-of-view roles as the end of the world is placed on a temporary hold, and a complex battle between intelligent invading robots ensues. Of course, the mechas have technology that vastly outdoes human technology, and in a unique twist, Gus and Ardent discover that the Vanguards appear to be drawn to their musical talents.
White brings us a pacy, immersive and amusing narrative. The use of technology is beautifully described, bringing Ardent’s vibrant outfits to life (with some fond echoes of Ziggy Stardust along the way) and giving us a world close enough to our own to relate to but advanced just enough to be believable. Ardent’s agent, Dahlia, is a stand-out supporting character, and readers will be very keen to find out what happens to our heroes in the next book, The Starmetal Symphony.