There are a few ways to read the novels. First, there’s author Jack McKinney’s recommended reading order from Robotech 20:
It’s a good reading order; it’s chronological for the most part. However, I’ve never been known to leave well enough alone. If you think my Video/Comics lists are prime examples of obsessive compulsiveness, then check out my chronologically focused Novels lists! It’s funny to look at my work again after over a 10-year absence. I don’t think my undiagnosed OCD has ever been greater than it was in the late ’90s. Heck, I even created my own bookmark system for the following lists. For the record, I don’t recommend reading the novels in the next two ways, unless you’re totally obsessed with all things Robochronological—like me.
So here it is: the final word on Robotechnuity (for the novels, at least, because I said so—mawah-ah-ah-ahhhh).
Like its Video/Comics counterpart, the plainly titled Robotechnuity is as exact a chronological listing as you’ll get. And as you know, The More Readable Version makes enjoying the series easier. Although events weren’t chronologically ordered as strictly on that list, it won’t ruin any surprises. Believe me, if you want to read the series in an orderly manner with less trouble, then The More Readable Version is the one.
The order provided by the author in Robotech 20 gives an even more simplified arrangement. But that order reveals certain outcomes too early because it divides the work by the book, not by the page and paragraph as I have when necessary. I’ve structured my lists to provide a more accurate representation of the chronology, pausing the reading of one book in order to continue the overall story in another book as dictated by chronological order. As a result, the giving away of surprises and turns of events has been eliminated as much as possible.
The bookmark system I’ve developed comes in handy for when you need to stop partway through a novel to pick up another. It’s rather simple, and you’ll need two bookmarks each time you get to one of those entries on the list. One of the bookmarks works normally: It holds your page until you get back. The other bookmark, which I call the scrapmark, marks the destination you want to arrive for one of those special entries and should be placed at the desired page. The scrapmark must look distinct from the regular bookmark, either by design, labeling, or both, because you sure don’t want to confuse the two. You’ll need to write the page number and paragraph of the destination (making sure to include info like “1st full paragraph” or “line 2,” etc.) onto the scrapmark. When you’ve read up to the destination, either cross off the info on the scrapmark or throw it away and use another one for the next special entry.
Please pay particular attention to entries featuring Robotech 20, 7-9, and 21 in relation to Sentinels 5. They comprise the most crucial order of events in terms of keeping surprises in check.
Getting the Novels
Since the late ’80s, the novels have been reprinted a number of times. When shopping for them, you can look up the usual suspects: www.amazon.com, www.ebay.com, conventions, and bookstores. Novels 1 to 12, adapting the TV episodes, have been collected into three omnibuses that have been reprinted in paperback more than once, and since early 2011, are now available as eBooks from www.randomhouse.com.
Buy any edition you want, but I advise staying away from the reprints of the omnibuses that came out around ’07. I recall picking up one of the so-subtitled “three action-packed novels in one volume” paperbacks and being stunned by certain pages—not written by the two authors who comprised Jack McKinney—that were added to this edition. The pages stated that errors for some of the dates, names, and other things couldn’t be corrected due to technical reasons. When I saw that and saw how the books were being promoted as “official tie-ins” to the Robotech games, I detected something that stunk, and to borrow a phrase from The Sentinels, it wasn’t “in the ventilation system.” (If you can help it, you might want to skip the eBooks to avoid the sight of the same stuff that might insult your intelligence.) Look, it’s no secret that some gamers have a problem with certain details from the novels, but since those details are mainly just in the novels, which have never been accepted by a portion of the roleplaying camp anyway, so what? By large, fans of the novels don’t care if dates are different from the roleplaying games or if names are spelled differently from other sources, among other things that are the authors’ intent. As long as major dates (notable years established in the animated series) such as the landing of the SDF-1 on Earth and the arrival of the Zentraedi are the same throughout the different mediums, which they are, then no one—except some people outside the novels’ fans—cares.
So, to heck with the ’07 editions and any other editions that don’t respect the work. They tried to repackage the books into something they aren’t and changed no one’s mind. But despite others’ efforts—inadvertent or otherwise—to paint the novels as somehow more flawed than other sources (Hey, I got an idea! Let’s slap an apology on The Macross Saga dvds, stating that the powers-that-be still couldn’t draw an actual SDF-2 next to the grounded SDF-1 after all this time!), I’ve discovered that a lot of new readers enjoyed the books no matter what—because they know quality storytelling when they see it.
One of the three-novels-in-one books on my continuity lists features Sentinels 1-3. Of course, it isn’t an ’07 edition; my edition is one of the original 3-in-1 books. Sentinels wasn’t reprinted with the other 3-in-1’s in ’07.
The printing info for the editions of all the novels on my lists is as follows:
Robotech 1-3 (three-in-one edition) – May 1994
Robotech 4-6 (three-in-one edition) – October 1994
Robotech 7-9 (three-in-one edition) – April 1995
Robotech 10 – February 1990
Robotech 11 – November 1987
Robotech 12 – December 1987
Sentinels 1-3 (aka Robotech 13-15; three-in-one edition) – August 1995
Sentinels 4 (aka Robotech 16) – July 1988
Sentinels 5 (aka Robotech 17) – August 1988
Robotech 18 – January 1990
Robotech 19 – May 1994
Robotech 20 – April 1995
Robotech 21 – April 1996.
The above info is important to keep in mind as you go through my continuity lists because page numbers, paragraphs, and lines are cited from those editions. Other editions may have different page numbers and so forth.
Enough preamble. Time for the Robotechnuity lists!
Introduction to the Video/Comics Continuity
Video/Comics Continuity – The More Readable Version
Explaining the Logic Behind the Order
Robotech Timeline for the Animation, Novels, and Comics
Robotech is a trademark of Harmony Gold U.S.A., Inc. By no means is this text intended to infringe upon the owner's rights.
Text: Copyright 1996, 2010-2013 Mecha 8