Monday, September 6, 2010

One Jump Ahead by Mark L. Van Name

One Jump Ahead (Jon & Lobo Series)
One Jump Ahead appears to be the first book in a series about Jon & Lobo, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next two or three that my library stocks. This has got that out of the frying pan and into the black hole quality that I really enjoy for quick mindless entertainment. The hero, Jon, is an engineered human being, with nanomachines living within his body which he is able to communicate with, and have them do things for him by creating swarms of nano-bots outside of his body.

The planet where he was created, Aggro, has been blockaded by the interstellar authorities, and everyone believes that all of the experimental humans like him have been destroyed. I think there's probably a back story here that Van Name may have published in short story form, and I may have to do some research in that area.

Jon uses his nanomachines to help him rescue the kidnapped daughter of a corporate executive by having them create swarms and "eat" all the weapons that the abductors are holding. Ok, there's a bit of the willing suspension of disbelief required to think that a bunch of nano-sized organisms could consume that volume of metal nearly instantanteously, but once you get that out of the way, everything else that follows is logical.

As part of his reward for thwarting the kidnappers, Jon gets title to a decommissioned military space craft, called Lobo (is this some sort of backhanded tribute to Laumer's Bolo series?). Lobo is run by an AI who is just a little cranky and quirky and makes plenty of sarcastic comments, but who, after Jon has him refurbished, can deal out the death and destruction quite handily.

Rescuing the girl, getting Lobo, and getting off planet are about the last things that go smoothly for Jon, and he muddles from one mishap to the next for the rest of the book. Some fun action, decent dialog, and a semi-twisty plot make this one worth a read.

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