Robotech: Before The Invid Storm

By James Luceno (as Jack McKinney)

published by Del Rey Books (April, 1996; 1st edition)

I was going to have this for next week but due to new events I finished it up this week. As usual I did a chapter by chapter review of the book for my other site, but with only the epilogue left and needing to take July off from said site due to a busy month and some “backstage” stuff I’ve been wanting to do I moved things up. So this week is the final review.

Robotech was a US TV series born of desperation. Originally Harmony Gold wanted to simply adapt the Japanese animated series Superdimensional Fortress Macross into an American dub but there weren’t enough episodes for a full weekday series (about 13-16 weeks worth at the time) and not enough for a weekend run without multiple seasons, if the show took off at all. So they grabbed two other anime, Superdimension Calvary Southern Cross (no connection) and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, and created Robotech, using the name of a series of model kits by Revell that used Macross and other anime mecha as their product. Comico The Comic Company produced the comic adaptations back in the 1980s.

Ever since then comics and novels have continued the story when attempts by Harmony Gold to build on the lore producer and head writer Carl Macek came up with to merge the three shows as seamlessly as possible, trying to fill holes like where the heroes of the first war disappeared to or tying the three invading forces together through the alien Robotechnology and the protoculture power source that allows the pilot to handle transforming airplanes as well as other genetic experimentation. The biggest was Robotech II: The Sentinels, an attempt to explain what happened to the heroes of the first war among other elements important to the other two, as the Invid again became the threat. Due to various financial issues and some miscommunication it never got past five episodes but again comics and novels took Macek’s plans and ran with them. For our purposes the novels were handled by “Jack McKinney”, the pen name for the writing team of James Luceno and Brian Daley. They had previously worked on the novelization of the Robotech episodes (the books collecting a group of episodes to form a full-length novel) as well as making original stories and their own take on Sentinels, sometimes contradicting the comics I hear, but this was the only novel I picked up.

Robotech: Before The Invid Storm is an 18 chapter novel with a prologue and epilogue. It seeks to explain the fate of the heroes of the Second Robotech War and the transition Earth was going through as it awaited the coming of the Invid. By this point Daley had passed away from pancreatic cancer, just after finishing a series of audio adaptations of Return Of The Jedi. Luceno retained the pen name when working on this book and it’s his story alone. I’m assuming using the pen name was both (or either) a tribute to their joint friendship and working partner ship as well as making it easier for the long time readers to know at least one of the authors was the same “guy” from the previous novels and novelizations. I think that’s enough intro, though. Let’s get into the book itself.