Joe Martin's Reviews > One Jump Ahead
by Mark L. Van Name
bookshelves: fiction, science-fiction, hard-sf, webscriptions
Take one jaded, burn-out mercenary. Jon Moore. Give him an AI-enhanced Predator-Class Assault Vehicle. Lobo. One desparate to live a quiet life, in an out of the way spot. The other itching to leave the quiet, out of the way spot and get back into action. Mix in some corporations eager to gain an edge and some corporate officials willing to lie and cheat to gain an edge. The end result is an angry mercenary with a lot of weaponry and a burning desire to both gain revenge and set things right.
All of that by itself would make a decent military novel. What makes this novel really stand out, and what makes it a great SF novel, is Mark L. Van Name’s use of nanotechnology and biotechnology. Jon Moore is loaded with nanotechnology that he can use to break in, break down, or confuse. Van Name, knowingly or not, keeps Sanderson’s Second Law in mind. The nanotech doesn’t make Moore invincible or omnipotent. It merely gives him a different set of tools. He still has to use his ingenuity to survive and win.
Moore also uses various bioengineered animals to achieve his goals. As with the nanotech, these animals are impressive for what they can do as well as what they can’t do. It’s a close look at another technology that’s currently beyond our grasp but close enough to be convincingly portrayed.
This book was very well written and Van Name revealed some impressive worldbuilding skills. I especially liked the planet name of “Pinkelplonker” (named by the 5-year old son of the captain that discovered the planet) and the jump system used to travel between worlds. I very much look forward to reading the rest of the novels in the series.