Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
In the last chapter of Robotech: We got caught up with events in the Local Group up to Colonel Wolff’s arrival. Then we got political grandstanding as a senator decided now is a good time to wave his beam saber around (wait, wrong mecha war series) and take control of Wolff’s ship away from the Army Of The Southern Cross, who wants to use the vessel on a mission Dana still hasn’t told anybody the Zentraedi insist is a waste of time. Now instead of coming together to prepare for the Invid it looks like what remains of the structure of civilization in the shadow Robotechnology and its Protoculture power source is about to fall apart. Already I’m beginning to understand why the Invid won.
We already know that there will be a number of factions involved. Apparently the government will be fighting among themselves between the senators and the military. We also have the Shimada Family who think they can maintain their power base by making friendly with the Invid, a plan that might have worked with the previous two groups except Zor forced the hands of the humans in the first war and retcons have tried to turn a fool into a power monger xenophobe that led to the second. Meanwhile we have the Starchildren, who so far have only been mentioned in passing, and you can bet Dana is going to pull some shenanigans of her own with the goal of getting the Tirolians back home. Frankly I’m only interested in this story because of the characters involved. Usually this really isn’t my kind of tale. Still, we’re here so let’s find out where it’s headed.
This chapter actually has three segments instead of the usual two, but I want to discuss the quote blurb that starts this chapter, taken from a supposed biography of Scott Bernard. I don’t really go over them; they’re mostly flavor text but this one speaks to Costanza’s grandstanding. Instead of having Wolff’s parade in New York Constanza wants it near what’s left of Monument City, the crash site of the SDF-1 even though what’s left of both could fit in a shoebox for a small child’s sneakers. While the mayor, Mario Peebles (possibly a reference to actor Mario Van Peebles but not necessarily the same guy), says in the end not having it in New York was a good idea since it didn’t draw as many new people when the Invid attacked but that’s luck after the fact. Constanza is clearly in this for himself and the continuing power struggle between the United Earth Government and the Army Of The Southern Cross.
I want to jump to the second segment in the story’s present day because it involves Wolff after that parade, with the press exaggerating his record. He’s not happy about that but he’s also fighting the urge to take a drink. I’ve never had a wet bar in a hotel room I stayed in. In fact I only had a coffee maker once not counting the year at ConnectiCon I got a hotel with a kitchenette in a neighborhood that locked the door at night (luckily nothing happened to my car but that did give me concerns even with a nightclub practically next door). I’m not sure why he didn’t ask for the booze to be removed. I’m getting sidetracked though because the focus is on Catherine and Johnny showing up. I was sure they had been killed off but we know they’re still alive…and older thanks to the time dilation of foldspace. Despite his hopes at reconciliation Catherine seems to have gotten older and moved on, especially after hearing from a spouse of one of Carpenter’s crew about his affair with Minmei. His son seems to want nothing to do with him at all. I kind of feel sorry for Wolff here. We know he did some questionable things at the time between Minmei and his drinking but here he is trying to get over both and make a better life while being caught in a political power struggle, worrying about the Invid, and hiding the fact that he can return to warn the Sentinels about current events on Earth. While this doesn’t excuse his fall later until Scott Bernard and Rand respark his conscience we can at least see what led up to that fall. This may hurt worse than killing them in the final battle of the previous war.
Segment one is with the Shimadas. Apparently they have a spy in the GMP and have learned about the Homeward Bound. Kan Shimada is worried that this will interfere with his plans to negotiate with the Invid…and something just occurred to me as I write this. While he talks about peace and junk, remember that they’ve come up with a form of Robotechnology that doesn’t require Protoculture. So if the Invid takes all the Protoculture and leaves (they won’t and he’s an idiot) this is another area the Shimada corporations can exploit. I wonder if his goals are really all that noble now. Anyway, he wants access to that ship, using Terry and Misa to use the Starchildren to get a hold of it after the proposed attack on the Sensor Nebula or even if they opt not to waste the energy. So it looks like they’ll finally get involved but instead of being a separate faction they’ll be a pawn for Shimada. Shame to see Terry and Misa, friends of Dana (the chapter even suggests Terry and Misa hook up the night before once she’s sure he’s over any attraction to Dana), going along with this. Terry is essentially working against his own team.
I would ask if any of the factions are even worth rooting for outside of Wolff wanting to update the Sentinels and REF but then there’s our last segment. The Tirolians are still dying, not of medical reasons but because they’re that homesick. Apparently they adjust very poorly. Louie tells the team that the Shimadas want his help is restoring the Homeward Bound‘s fold drive, presumably to warn the Sentinels but we know Shimada has less helpful plans, under the pretense of then allowing the Protoculture-less mecha research to be used. Interestingly it’s Bowie and not Dana who comes up with the plan of sending the Tirolains back home with Wolff, which Dana takes to immediately. I don’t think Wolff would have a problem with it, and Shimada might be talked into it even if he thinks the REF coming back would mess with his scheme, whatever it turns out to be. (I’m only guessing on pushing his mecha. The narration nor the characters have outright stated it.) The Starchildren I don’t know because they’ve only been mentioned in passing thus far. The UEG and GMP want that ship for their own reasons and don’t seem to care about the former enemy’s civilian population so I imagine that’s going to be a challenge. At least Dana tells the gang about what the Zentraedi aboard the satellite said, though with the Wolff Pack here they don’t have a lot of bargaining power at the moment.
Overall this was a decent chapter. We’ve set up Jonathan Wolff’s final fall from grace, what the Shimada faction will be up to, and what Dana’s part in this dance of egos is going to be. Next time we’ll see where it goes from here.