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Alien vs. Alien
Gini Koch
DAW, 512 pages

Alien vs. Alien
Gini Koch
Gini Koch lives in Phoenix, AZ, works her butt off by day, and writes by night. She writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine "Kitty" Katt series for DAW Books and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. She also writes under a variety of pen names (including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch).

Gini Koch Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Touched By An Alien, Alien Tango and Alien in the Family

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

Presented, for your consideration: Kitty Katt-Martini and her husband, Jeff. She's a rock-and-roll loving girl from Earth; he's an Armani-clad hunk hailing from Alpha Centauri, rocking the superhuman abilities and with something of a jealous streak. They're in charge of the American Centaurian Diplomatic Corp, a thinly-veiled attempt to pass Jeff and his fellow A-Cs off as a very exclusive religious/ethnic group with full representation in Washington, D.C. They're married with a brand new baby girl, and their life is abso-freaking-lutely insane.

No, seriously. For Kitty, an average day consists of political intrigue in the morning, monster-fighting in the afternoon, and saving the world in the evening, with the occasional break to cuddle with her husband or take care of her daughter (who also rocks the massive psychic powers).

This, friends, is Alien Vs. Alien, sixth in Gini Koch's screwball series. It's a science fiction romantic comedy if done with an unlimited budget and absolutely no restraint. Just explaining it is enough to give me a headache and make me reach for the whiskey. But let me explain why this series, and this book in particular, is awesome brain candy.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Kitty met Jeff when she killed a superhuman monster with a ballpoint pen. Despite him being an alien, they soon fell in love while repeatedly kicking ass and saving the world from more monsters and other aliens. Eventually, they got married, and Las Vegas was never the same. Along the way, Kitty became the A-C-head of Airborne Division, because someone thought it was a good idea to give her control over people with F-16s. After that, they decided she could do more good (or harm) as an Ambassador, and they sent her and Jeff to D.C. where they could make friends and blow up enemies. Demonstrating a remarkable ability to make friends, Kitty has managed to add an average of six new characters to the supporting cast with each book, including hairdressers, paparazzi, college football players, and so on. Her best friend is a high-ranking CIA agent and paranoid conspiracy theorist. Her best gay friend is a former male model turned secret agent. Her best sorority gal-pal is the daughter of a now-deceased super villain. Her mom's with a secret counter-terrorism unit. Her in-laws are from an entirely different solar system. She's good friends with a godlike artificial intelligence named ACE, which thinks of us as penguins. At any given time, there are approximately thirty people running around, all doing... stuff.

With me?

Look, I'm sorry. I needed to put this book in context. It starts with someone trying to blackmail Kitty with doctored sex photos, and rapidly gets weirder. There's the overly-chatty, overly-possessive African Grey Parrot which may actually hold the secrets to a deceased bad guy's evil plan. There's the introduction of sentient, psychic, invisible alien peacocks. There's an entirely new alien race that's really torqued at Earth for inexplicable reasons. There's a secret enclave of hackers hidden on a military compound. There's an extended and bizarre sequence where elaborate parallels are drawn between the cast and various superheroes. There's...

I'm sorry, friends. I can't do this. I tried to explain this series to the cats. One horked up a hairball and left, one started grooming himself, the others just left outright. I tried explaining this series to my wife, and she asked if I was feeling okay. I tried describing it to random bystanders, and now I have three new restraining orders. This series defies description.

So let me approach it from a different direction. Have you ever wanted madcap, over-the-top, no-holds-barred, sanity-defying, increasingly-bizarre science fiction romantic comedy? I mean, utter wish fulfillment brain fodder? A series that wholly embraces the absurd, and approaches each new level of WTF as a challenge to be overcome and beaten into the ground? Are you looking for a series that loves classic rock n' roll and worships Aerosmith? A series that grooves on comic books and pop culture ephemera? A series that features a woman in t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers on the cover? (Yes. Sensible attire. Jim C. Hines, you won't have to hurt yourself too badly for these covers.)

This is that series. And if you don't like those things... what's wrong with you?

I kid. Obviously, this series isn't for everyone. It's information-dense and character-heavy, with plots that occasionally meander, and I couldn't in good faith recommend Alien Vs. Alien to someone who hadn't read the first five installments. It takes a certain mindset to accept the level of hyperactive camp infused into every aspect of these books. You also have to be willing to overlook, or at least accept, that fact that the male lead is portrayed as one of those immensely self-confident alpha male jerks with a raging streak of jealousy and possessiveness, and you have to accept that the female lead loves him without reservation, and far better people than I have already had this discussion.

But! This series also has major supporting characters of color and queerness, and they are awesome in their own right. You can't fault Gini Koch for striving for inclusion of everyone, even bird-aliens and the occasional alligator...

And thusly, I do apologize. I wanted to talk about Alien Vs. Alien, but it seems that talking about the one book on its own is near-impossible without bringing it into context as part of a larger series, and that may be its greatest flaw. I love these books, as a guilty pleasure that gets exponentially weirder and wackier with each installment, but they really are a challenge at times.

Now then, I believe I need a few drinks to clear my head.

Copyright © 2013 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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