Review of Mark Van Name's Jon and Lobo Series

"One Jump Ahead" by Mark Van Name

"Slanted Jack" by Mark Van Name

Overview

The Jon and Lobo series starts a little bit slow with "One Jump Ahead," but the character development and details of life once man colonizes the heavens makes the series a must read for Sci-Fi enthusiasts.

It's set quite a bit in the future as man has spread their wings and managed to settle on quite a few planets - with corporate giants following closely behind to exploit each planet's natural commodities using mysterious gateways that allow instantaneous travel to distant places. Jon is a man who has been on the run since nanomachines destroyed his region of space - over 100 years ago. He's a loner, as he's afraid the corporate giants will discover that the nanomachines within his body will heal wounds and have halted his aging process. During the first book, "One Jump Ahead," Jon acquires Lobo, a very unique fighter spaceship with AI, as payment for services rendered.

The series follows Jon and Lobo as they traverse the universe helping people, for money or because it's the right thing to do, preferably both. Along their journey we learn more of each of their histories and their growing 'friendship'.

As you finish the last book, "No Going Back," you'll want the next installment to be coming out soon - even though I have found no evidence on any website that it's coming...Throughout the series, you can feel not only the development of the characters, but the increased quality of the writing of Mark Van Name.

"Overthrowing Heaven" by Mark Van Name

"Children No More" by Mark Van Name

Jon

Who doesn't love a character that must move often and not get close to anyone in order to protect his secret - that he's the only successful test subject of nanomachines being integrated into a human being? Alone for the past 140ish years, since his escape from the scientists that experimented on him and others caused his home planet's region of space to be quarantined. And yet compassionate, always taking the extra risk - especially when children are involved.

Alone since his sister, who has special powers due to the overly radiated nature of his home planet, 'fixed' him and was taken away by the government to heal the rich and powerful with her unique talent.

Jon hopes beyond hope that the same healing she has done on him that has enabled him to live as a young person for so long has also kept her alive. Someday, he will find her! In the meantime, he helps who he can, including a secret society of survivors of his home planet - although he never tells them that he is one of them.

A loner through and through, Jon never tells anyone of his history - including the AI in his fighter spaceship.

Lobo

Lobo is the name in the special fighter class spaceship with AI that Jon finds himself becoming more and more of a 'friend' with. Throughout the series, it becomes harder and harder to not see Lobo as a full-blown person/character. The smart alecky sidekick.

"No Going Back" by Mark Van Name

Humanity in the Future

Some of the details of the future of humanity seem only a generation away or closer - 'wallets' that communicate and transact money instantly; extended plastic surgery to keep people looking young into their 70s; surveillance cameras everywhere; a genetically engineered zoo. But it's the fact that these details are so close to a reality now that make the world that Mark Van Name creates relatable and realistic.

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