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[Where I Read] The Robotech Novels!

Aaron Peori

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I'm glad you're continuing this. It reminds me of how much I loved this series, far more than the show, actually. I had the omnibus editions that collected three novels a piece, and wish I still did.


ANT Pogo

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Thank you for the kind words! I do apologize for my slowness in posting the last two chapters, though. I'm gonna try and get back to my original pace, because we've still got a lot of books to go through!

Though now that I've finished the first one, if I had to guess, I'd say it that it was mostly Daley's work. There's a lot of stylistic and phrasing similarities between this book and the Han Solo Trilogy.

Which means, I guess, the next one will be mostly Luceno.


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Ooh, that was an awesome review! I'm more than tempted to break out my own omnibus editions to follow along. :D

Rick, Rick... you tool.


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I have broken out my copies of #2 and 3, and am giving serious thought to scouring the local UBS for the rest ...

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And now, Robotech Novel #2 - Battle Cry, by Jack McKinney!

Chapter 1

If there was any one thing that typified the initial stages of the First Robotech War, it was the unspoken interplay that developed between Captain Henry Gloval and the Zentraedi commander, Breetai. In effect, both men had been created for warfare-Gloval by the Soviet GRU, and Breetai, of course, by the Robotech Masters. When one examines the early ship's log entries of the two commanders, it is evident that each man spent a good deal of time trying to analyze the personality of his opponent by way of the strategies each employed. Breetai was perhaps at an advantage here, having at his disposal volumes of Zentraedi documents devoted to legends regarding the origin of Micronian societies. But it must be pointed out that Breetai was severely limited by his prior conditioning in his attempts to interpret these: even Exedore, who had been bred to serve as transcultural adviser, would fail him on this front. Gloval, on the other hand, with little knowledge of his ship and even less of his opponent, had the combined strengths of a loyal and intelligent crew to draw upon and the instincts of one who had learned to function best in situations where disinformation and speculation were the norm. One could point to many examples of this, but perhaps none is so representative of the group mind at work onboard the SDF-1 than the Battle at Saturn's Rings.

"Genesis," History of the First Robotech War, Vol. XVII
The GRU was (and still is) the Russian military's counterpart to the KGB. Gloval was hardcore, yo!

And the note about "volumes of Zentraedi documents devoted to legends regarding the origin of Micronian societies" is interesting, since this is a leftover of the attempt change the origin of the Zentradi and what Protoculture is in the Macross-to-Robotech conversion. In Macross, they actually were legendary, he command not to interfere with micronians is an old instruction from the society of the Protocultures to their Zentradi army to prevent the giants from turning on them, but it doesn't hold, and in a civil war the Zentradi mostly wipe out the Protocultures millennia ago (kind of...this in itself has been retconned many times during the various Macross productions, most notably Macross 7). The Zentradi are basically an independent self-sustaining military force (thanks to the automated factories scattered about the galaxy) who no longer recall their own origin. Exedore dug this ancient no-longer-applicable command out of the records of the Zentradi when they found the people of Earth were micronians, but even he isn't sure just why the Zentradi are supposed to stay away.

In Robotech, though, the Zentradi interact with the micronian Robotech Masters all the time. Heck, the novel series started with Zor himself arguing with Dolza. And the Zentradi know they were created by the Masters, to serve them, and even remember their origins as slave laborers before they were turned into an army (this is an important plot element of the Sentinels sequel).

As I recall, this is rather awkwardly retconned as the Masters creating fictional "legends" to act as warnings for the Zentradi not to mess with micronians because they're worried about the cultural impact on their slave soldiers (rightly, as it turns out).

And speaking of the Zentradi, the novel opens with Breetai on his flagship, pondering the transformed battlefortress.

What would the Robotech Masters make of this new design? Breetai asked himself. Even prior to the transformation, Zor's ship was vastly different from his own-indeed, different from any vessel of the Zentraedi fleet. Protoculture factory that it was, it had always lacked the amorphous organic feel Breetai preferred. But then, it had not been designed as a warship. Until now.
Exedore is busy telling him that he has no idea why the current owners of the ship executed such a crazy-ass transformation, especially since by all his calculations, it'd actually make things more difficult. He also notes that since the Zentradi fleet has been following the ship for two months now as it slowly makes its way towards the third planet of the system, they must be having trouble with their spacefold generators and are having to take the long way home. To help them in their journey, he speculates, they probably plan to use the "slingshot effect" of the ringed sixth planet to speed them on their way.

"Furthermore, they will probably activate ECM as they near the planetary rings. It may become difficult for us to lock in on their course."

"It is certainly the logical choice, Exedore. And that is precisely what concerns me. They have yet to demonstrate any knowledge of logic."

"Your decision, my lord?"

"They have more than an escape plan in mind. The firepower of the main gun has given them confidence in their ability to engage us." Breetai stroked his chin as he watched the screen. "I'll let them attempt their clever little plan, if only to gain a clearer understanding of their tactics. I'm curious to see if they are in full possession of the power that ship holds."
On the bridge of the SDF-1, Captain Gloval is staring at Saturn through the big forward viewport, and spends eight paragraphs basically thinking the same thing Breetai and Exedore were just talking about: they need to use Saturn's gravity to give them a boost towards home, and it's also the perfect place for an ambush to try and get the alien enemy trailing them off their backs. It's well written, I admit, but it really is a little redundant, so I'll spare you any more quotes. The only new thing we learn is that Lang has analyzed the strange energy field left in the place of the missing fold generators, and thinks it can be turned into some form of shield for the ship.

Meanwhile, we last left Rick Hunter two months ago vowing to join the defense forces. And now he's dealing with one of the most grueling, toughest experiences any man can go through, a test of willpower and stamina that has left many a lesser man broken and humiliated.

Oh, and he's also gone through basic training.

Rick was strolling down Macross Boulevard at a leisurely pace; he still had a few minutes to kill before meeting Minmei at the market.
Because, yes, that's right, Rick Hunter is going Shopping With His Girlfriend.

As he waits, he admires himself in the mirror and how hot and appealing he is to young women passersby (because, after all, Gargantuan Tool), and reflects on the rebuilt city some.

The city had managed to completely rebuild what the modular transformation had left in ruins. Taking into account the SDF-1's ability to mechamorphose, the revised city plan relied on a vertical axis of orientation. The attempt to recreate the horizontal openness of Macross Island was abandoned. The new city rose in three tiers toward the ceiling of the massive hold. Ornate bridges spanned structural troughs; environmental control units and the vast recycling system had been integrated into the high-tech design of the buildings; EVE engineers - specialists in enhanced video emulation - were experimenting with sky and horizon effects; hydroponics had supplied trees and shrubs; and a monorail was under construction. The city planners had also worked out many of the problems that had plagued the city early on. Shelters and yellow and black safety areas were well marked in the event of modular transformation. Each resident now had a bed to sleep in, a job to perform. Food and water rationing was accepted as part of the routine. The system of waivers, ration coupons, and military scrip had proved manageable. Most people had navigated the psychological crossings successfully. There would soon be a television station, and a lottery was in the works. In general the city was not unlike a turn-of-the-century shopping mall, except in size and population. Remarkably, the residents of Macross had made the adjustment - they were a special lot from the start - and the general feeling there was a cross between that found in an experimental prototype community and that found in any of the wartime cities of the last era.
Here we get the first appearance of EVE, here standing for "enhanced video emulation", and not yet the AI of Robotech: the Movie. And already it's blatantly clear that this book does not share the same brilliantly minimalist economy-of-writing style of the previous book.

Anyway, Minmei finally shows up.

She was wearing a tight sleeveless sweater over a white blouse, and a skirt that revealed too much.
Wait, what?

Okay, this is from the equivalent scene in the cartoon (and I apologize for the poor screenshot that makes it look like Rick is out on a date with The Question's little sister). The only way that skirt "reveals too much" is if you're either a Saudi cleric or Queen Victoria. The authors actually described Minmei as wearing a sluttier outfit than she did in the source footage!

FIFTEEN, guys!

Anyway, Rick once again gets a harsh lesson about wanting serious relationships with fifteen year old girls when she talks up a storm about "her eight weeks, asking questions about "spacic training," complimenting him, the uniform, the Defense Force, the mayor, and everyone else connected with the war effort" as well as "singing lessons, dance lessons, and an upcoming beauty pageant" (all while greeting everyone they meet on the street like she knows them personally), when all Rick wants to do is talk about his experience at basic training, his new friends, his fears as a newly-minted soldier, and how "their two-week ordeal together had been one of the most precious times in his life."

But she wasn't letting him get a word in.

The only thing that stops her diarrhea of the mouth is when she's suddenly distracted by a shiny object dress hanging in the window of a dress shop, "a salmon-colored belted dress that had suddenly become the most important thing in the world to her." Airhead. She drags an unwilling Rick inside with her (all he wanted to do today is go to the park with her). She admonishes Rick that there will be no peeking as she tries clothes on, which apparently the saleslady finds so hysterical that she bursts into squeals of laughter that, according to the novel, startle Rick into dropping the shopping bags that Minmei has (naturally) made him carry because he thinks an early-warning signal had gone off.

As he struggles to retrieve all the spilled items (a task made infinitely more complicated by the fact that they've apparently become coated in slippery face soap from an opened container), he ends up underneath a table and promptly conks his head trying to get up. A table loaded with bras for sale. A table with three skirt-wearing perusers of said bras for sale, making him seem like the biggest pervert on the ship as the women flee, holding the hems of their skirts down. Just then the saleslady bursts into more laughter, and Minmei comes out of the dressing room wanting to know just what the hell he's doing.

Worst. Date. EVER.

Rick flees outside, and waits for an hour while Minmei tries on clothes and buys more stuff. He again attempts to ask Minmei to go to the park with him when she emerges, but she's not even paying attention to him, and says they're going to the White Dragon. Feeling guilty because he owes Uncle Max and Aunt Lena at least a visit after all they've done with him, he goes along.

They were an odd couple - Max, short and portly, and Lena, Minmei's tall and gracious inspiration. They had a son back on Earth, Lynn-Kyle, whom Lena missed and Max preferred not to think about, for reasons Rick hadn't learned. Although there was little else that either kept from him.
Ever have the feeling like someone was walking over your grave?

Fortunately, they're a lot more receptive to Rick's tales of newbie military life than a flighty fifteen year old girl, happily listening to him as he talks and eats the stir fried shrimp (his favorite meal, the novel says) that they eagerly give him. The happy times are interrupted by Roy entering the restaurant, to be an awesome dick by eating the last of Rick's shrimp and making a big show of kissing Minmei's hand. Oh, and to also tell him that his leave is over and to get back to base, since they're on alert, and Rick has been assigned to Skull Squadron. Max and Lena are worried (they know all too well what war means for the soldiers that visit their restaurant), but Minmei acts like this is the greatest thing ever.

Rick can't quite bring himself to agree.

Chapter 2

From the start it was inevitable that a cult should develop around the Veritech fighters. Like the World War I aces, jet fighter jocks, astronauts, and computer linguists before them, the men who were chosen to interact with the first by-product of Robotechnology considered themselves to be at the cutting edge of human progress. And in a sense they were. For who before them had interfaced with machines on such an intimate level? It was only fitting that they should form their own club and speak their own language-call themselves "mechamorphs." They were continually borrowing and applying mystic phrases from their Zen masters-those actually responsible for teaching the pilots the essentials of meditative technique...You'd be walking around Macross in those days and hear phrases like "dropping trou" and "standing upright" being tossed about-referring to reconfiguration to Guardian mode and battloid mode, respectively. Pilots would talk to you about your "thinking caps," the sensor-studded helmets worn, or about the thrill of "haloing" (fixing an enemy on target in the mind's eye) or "alpha-bets" (gambling with yourself that you were deep enough in trance for the mecha to understand you) or "facing mecha" (going into battle) or "azending...

Zachary Fox, Jr., VT: the Men and the Mecha
Wait, no! Don't cut off there!

Damn, now I'll never find out what "azending" means. Though I do like this little bit of realism injected into the Robotech universe.

And is it just me, or are even the chapter epigraphs getting more verbose?

Lang has now developed the fold-generator energy field thing into the "pinpoint barrier system", a cluster of three small movable shields controlled by "manually operated universal gyros". Gloval is confident that with this new defensive system, his "Blitzkrieg" attack plan will work.

The strategy was simple enough: When the SDF-1 was in close proximity to Saturn's rings, electronic countermeasures would be activated to jam the enemy's radar scanners. The fortress would hide within the rings to take full advantage of their intrinsic radio "noise," while at the same time, squadrons of Veritech fighters would be deployed in a simulated attack mission to act as decoys. When the enemy moved in to engage the VTs, the SDF-1's main gun would take them out. Orbital dynamics would make the timing critical: If the fortress reentered orbit too early, it would be catapulted back toward the outer planets; too late, and the launch window to Mars and the inner planets would be closed.
Rick and Roy are on their way to the VT pilots' briefing when Roy suddenly snaps to attention and salutes. Rick follows suit, but all he can see are four young women in civilian clothes.

The oldest among them, not more than twenty-three or twenty-four herself, was the one who returned his salute. She had thick brown hair coiled at her shoulders, small, attractive features, and an athletic body even her conservative outfit couldn't conceal. There was an air of cool command about her.
The other three are pointing and laughing at Rick. To his horror, they're the women from the dress shop, and are mocking the everliving hell out of him, saying things like "Hold your skirts down, ladies." Rick refuses to tell Roy what they're talking about, as Roy introduces the new pilot to what are, of course, Lisa Hayes and the Bridge Bunnies.

Then, things get worse.

"Rick Hunter..." Lisa Hayes was repeating. "Why does that name sound familiar? Have we met - uh, before this morning, I mean?"

"No, sir, I don't think so, sir."

Lisa tapped her lower lip with her forefinger. She knew that name from somewhere...and all at once she had it: Hunter was the civilian pilot who had shown up at Macross on Launching Day. The same one who had made unauthorized use of a Veritech, the same one who had rescued that Chinese girl, the same one who had called her-

"You're that loudmouthed pilot, aren't you?"

Rick stared at her. Yes, unbelievable as it was, she was the one he had seen on the Veritech commo screen months ago.

"Then you must be-"

"Go ahead, Corporal Hunter, say it: I must be..."

"Y-you must be...my superior officer, sir!" Lisa smirked and nodded her head knowingly. She motioned to her group, and they started off down the sidewalk. But Lisa turned to Rick as she passed him and added, "By the way, I don't know what your particular problem is, but it's hardly appropriate behavior for a VT pilot to be hanging around lingerie shops looking for a cheap thrill."

Rick groaned. Roy scratched his head. The blonde said: "Creep."
Ouch. Though I gotta say, amusing as this scene is, it really pales in comparison to its cartoon version. Mainly because Rick has the most hysterical horrified reaction ever.

Lisa's still pretty damn awesome, even here, though.

At the briefing, Rick and the other pilots get their orders (act as decoys for the SDF-1's counteroffensive), and are told by the general "If there's anyone you want to see, you'd better do it tonight." Panicked that his first mission might turn out to be his last, Rick rushes after the briefing to call Minmei. All he can do, though, is leave a message for her to meet him that night in the park at 8 PM (she's at ballet school when he phones).

Rick arrives promptly at eight, and waits. And waits. And waits. Finally, at ten PM, Minmei shows up. That's not good, Rick. Just sayin'. He gloomily informs her about the mission tomorrow, and Minmei reacts like it's the best thing ever. You know, I think she's trying to get him killed off.

Then Minmei was suddenly on her toes, twirling around in front of him. "Do you like it? Don't you just love it?" she kept asking. He was puzzled but caught on fast. The dress! The salmon-colored dress she'd picked up that afternoon.

"You look beautiful, Minmei."

She moved in close and made him repeat it.

I miss Snarky Minmei.

Rick decides he wants to commemorate this, the worst day of his life with the worst possible person he could have chosen to be in a relationship with by getting their picture taken together. Then Minmei does the mature thing and listens to all of Rick's fears and concerns about his first combat mission tomorrow.

Hah! Just kidding! She talks about herself some more!

Afterward, she talked dance for half an hour; she read him the lyrics of a song she'd composed. Then she had to be going.

"Uncle Max gets mad when I stay out too late. But I'll see you when you get back, Rick. Have a good mission, and remember, I'm very proud of you."

And with that she was gone, leaving him wondering about tomorrow all over again.
Dump her now, Rick.

Rick tries jogging around the park for a while in the hopes that he'll exhaust himself enough to sleep, then returns to the barracks where he emos for a huge-ass paragraph about ...well, read it for yourself. I shouldn't be the only one to suffer here.

Minmei was proud of him; earlier that day she'd been upset with him for carrying her shopping bag because the package hid too much of the uniform. Besides, it was wrong for a Veritech fighter pilot to involve himself in such mundane activities. Well, that much was encouraging to Rick because she had really been his motivation for joining up. During the weeks that followed their shared ordeal in that remote part of the ship, he realized that Minmei could never accept an ordinary man as her lover; he would have to be someone who participated in life to the fullest. Someone romantic, adventurous, full of grand dreams and positive hopes for the future - an all-day-long hero who would never fear, never say die. A special man, a dearest man, someone to share his life with you alone, as Minmei had herself written it...She was like someone who had gone from childhood to maturity without any of the intervening periods of longing or confusion. And even though Rick had saved her life on two occasions and spent two long lost weeks with her, he had yet to prove himself in her eyes. Without joining up there would have been no way for him to display the heroics she craved, no way to individualize himself, no way to accept himself as her equal.

And yet, even having taken those steps, he felt no closer to her than before. Her love had no fixed center; it was spread across the board and parceled out in equal packets for one and all to enjoy. A hero wouldn't even be enough for her because she belonged to everyone. She was more spirit than woman, more dream than reality.
Jesus Christ, Rick, you are so fucked. For the love of all that is good and holy in this universe, RUN.

These huge-ass indigestible blocks of text in this book are killing me, I hope you know, so you guys better be appreciative!

Roy shows up just as Rick is finally falling asleep, apparently just to be a dick again.

The next morning, it's off to the Prometheus, and we get more long-ass descriptions of the personnel carrier ride through Macross City, PA announcements of squadron mission assignments, and Rick strapping himself into his fighter. It takes like nine paragraphs for Rick's VT to get to the flight deck of the carrier alongside another Skull Squadron fighter.

Daley should have cockpunched Luceno.


As the two crafts were lifted to the flight deck, Rick could see the disc of the sun far off to his left. At the end of the hurricane bow was Saturn, impossibly huge. Commander Hayes was once again on the PA and tac net.

"This operation will be directed toward the Cassini Quadrant. All squadrons will wait in the ice fields of the rings for further instructions."

The ice fields of Saturn's rings, Rick repeated to himself.

And he had thought yesterday was bad.
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Rick's obviously not the biggest perv on the SDF-1. We all know who that is. ;)

And damn, those are some big paragraphs.

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Rick's obviously not the biggest perv on the SDF-1. We all know who that is. ;)
When Lisa snapped "it's hardly appropriate behavior for a VT pilot to be hanging around lingerie shops looking for a cheap thrill," I half expected Roy to bust in with, "Wait, really? Uh oh..."

And damn, those are some big paragraphs.
As I said, the writing in this book isn't bad. It's just a completely different style from the first book, and it's giving me whiplash.

Oddly, I never even noticed the sudden shift all the times I've read these novels over the decades...until I had to recap them, and those huge-ass paragraphs started kicking my ass.


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\Jesus Christ, Rick, you are so fucked. For the love of all that is good and holy in this universe, RUN.
Oooookay. Let me just point out that this whole passage is how he sees her, not an objective description. Rick, frankly, is being an insecure adolescent. As we'll soon see, Minmei doesn't see herself in these grandiose terms at all.
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