01/09/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: Baen. 416 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), £ 5.85 (UK). ISBN: 978-141655-557-5.
check out websites: www.baen.com and www.markvanname.com/default.html
I discovered Mark L. Van Name just a few short months ago when I reviewed 'Transhuman', an anthology he edited and contributed to for Baen. Sufficiently intrigued, I picked up his latest novel 'Overthrowing Heaven' and enjoyed meeting his characters, Jon Moore and Lobo.
'One Jump Ahead' is Van Name's first novel and it's a heck of a debut. I read this book in a quick couple of sittings, ignoring other distractions (even 'The Sims 3' - which anyone who knows me can tell you is one mean feat!) until I finished it. The novel is well turned-out and as polished as those of any veteran and the story is many-faceted.
'One Jump Ahead' is not only where we meet Jon Moore and Lobo, but they meet each other. Jon Moore has a colourful and distinctive past as a mercenary soldier and private courier. Before that time he was a test subject in a secret nano-technology experiment. Although his escape and the subsequent adventures leading up to present time are not novelised yet, Van Name does an adequate job of filling you in with the details without making you think you've missed several books in the series.
As much as I'd like him to go back and flesh out Jon's past, it wouldn't include Lobo. Jon's constant companion, Lobo, is a heavily armoured and armed PCAV (Predator-Class Assault Vehicle) with an emotive AI and biting wit. They work well together and it's their partnership that makes this novel so enjoyable.
Jon receives Lobo as payment for a search and rescue operation. Lobo needs some replacement parts and upon recommendation of a client, Jon heads to the planet Lankin to secure those parts. This is when the trouble really begins. The arms dealer tries to rip him off and suddenly there's a bounty on his head. Somehow, this all has something to do with the girl he rescued. You'll need to read the rest of 'One Jump Ahead' to find out how. It's a great adventure!
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA