15 August 2011

Book review: Jump Gate Twist

Jump Gate Twist, Mark L. Van Name. Baen Books, 2010.

This omnibus collects the first two Jon & Lobo books, One Jump Ahead and Slanted Jack, and two short stories, "My Sister, My Self," and "Lobo, Actually." The author has written intros and afterwords for each section of the book, which reveal some insight into the writing of each tale.

One Jump Ahead starts with Jon attempting to take a vacation, but, thanks to a careless indiscretion, he's hired to rescue a man's daughter from her kidnappers. One of the local heads of a vast, interplanetary conglomerate is trying to get sole usage rights to the planet Jon's vacationing on, and the other major vast, interplanetary conglomerate is angling for the same thing, so the daughter is kidnapped. Except Jon ends up entangled in a plot that is a lot more complicated than that, and he seeks the aid of his former employer, the Saw, a mercenary outfit.

In "My Sister, My Self," Jon loses the person who means the most to him: his sister, Jennie. But not before she "fixes" him. The events in this story are referenced throughout the rest of Jon's stories, and this gives us some insight into his life on Pinkelponker before he's taken to Dump Island (see Children No More).

Slanted Jack is a con artist who used to be Jon's partner in crime, and he waltzes into Jon's life with a request to help this boy who's a descendent of people from Pinkelponker. Of course it doesn't turn out to be so easy, and Jon ends up tangling with arms smugglers, the colonial governing bodies, and the followers of a religion based on Pinkelponker, as well as Jack.

"Lobo, Actually," is a Christmas story told by the AI of a Predator-Class Armored Vehicle: Jon's ship, Lobo, but before he's Jon's ship. A young boy's father is dying of an illness that's going around their planet, because the hospitals don't have the cure. Lobo feels something like pity for him, though it's partly also boredom from being stuck in the town square as their pet scarecrow.

All together, the stories that comprise Jump Gate Twist are enjoyable. They're full of action and adventure, with politics creeping up the side. Jon himself isn't political, but the structural politics of the universe he inhabits are visible as he maneuvers through them. If you like adventure stories (in space!), pick up this book.

1 comment:

elsiewho said...

Ooh, I have been looking for some good adventure sf to read. Thanks for the review!!