We’re pleased to re-run this book review from a few years ago in anticipation of the author visiting our libraries again soon.
I first met local author Mark Van Name several years ago at an author panel at a local Barnes & Noble and as I listened to him speaking (including a somewhat disturbing story from his youth spent in a para-military youth group) I thought that this is a guy I would like to hang out with. He seems pretty laid back, he’s very friendly and loves to talk about Sci-Fi, so what’s not to like? I bought One Jump Ahead, had it signed, and introduced myself as a local librarian. We’ve since hosted Mark at several author panels at several different Wake County Public Libraries, and he even helped us with our writing series be recording this video on finishing your novel.
In addition to his writing career, Van Name runs a technology assessment company, based here in the RTP area and had published over a thousand computer related articles. He’d also had several short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including The Year’s Best Science Fiction. The year following its publication, One Jump Ahead won the Compton Crook Award for best new Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror novel at the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention. It’s the first in the Jon & Lobo series and is the story of Jon Moore, a retired warrior enhanced with nano-technology within his body, and his partner, Lobo, an artificially intelligent ship complete with a personality that more than occasionally irks Jon. The two seek some R&R on the lush and pristine planet Macken, but Jon is tricked into kidnapping a girl thinking that he’s returning her to her father. This is just the latest event in a plot involving two mega-corporations battling for control of the planet’s “jump-gate.” (The jump-gates are what allow humanity to travel quickly between the stars – entering a jump gate in one area and ending up somewhere else in the galaxy entirely. No one is sure if they are a natural phenomena or artifacts from an alien race.) Jon naturally must set right the wrong he accidentally committed, enlisting the help of some of his former comrades in arms. Throughout this action packed story we learn a bit about Jon’s background and the sorry life of a mercenary as he shows that it takes brains even more than brawn to prevail. I also loved the fact that it was Jon who came up with the brilliant plan to defeat the bad guys, and not the super-intelligent sentient ship, Lobo – proving that man can surprise even machines, at times.
The other books in the series include Slanted Jack, Overthrowing Heaven, Children No More (Mark has donated all of his proceeds to the charity Falling Whistles, which helps real child soldiers in Africa), and No Going Back; he is currently working on the next book in the series: All the Worlds Against Us.
Mark also has a blog that is really quite cool and worth checking out – it covers a wide variety of topics – from his writing, his life and family, to music & movie reviews, from all kinds of food, to the UFC, the State Fair and much, much more.
Mark Van Name will appear with other Speculative Fiction authors at West Regional Library on October 1 and at North Regional Library on October 8; visit our website for more details, including which other authors will also appear.