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One Jump Ahead (Jon & Lobo) Mass Market Paperback – May 20, 2008

27 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Jon & Lobo Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Military SF fans will welcome Van Name's solid debut, the first in a projected series, though they should be prepared for a layer of irony rare in this popular subgenre: the introspective hero's most complex relationship is with his artificially intelligent tank, Lobo. Jon Moore, a soul-weary soldier with a nanotech secret, becomes involved against his wishes with an effort to rescue a kidnapped innocent. As usual in a corporate-dominated multiple-worlds setting, double- and triple-crosses complicate what should be a simple task. Old vet buddies get involved, and space jet–setting corporate elites receive righteous (and occasionally misdirected) vengeance. Jon finds time to appreciate the mysteries of the universe and muse on the hollowness of his mercenary lifestyle. An attention to the details of future military tech and service, along with several scenes of them in action, will reward those expecting the more standard military SF for which Baen is known. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark L. Van Name, whom John Ringo has said is "going to be the guy to beat in the race to the top of SFdom," has worked in the high-tech industry for over 30 years and today runs a technology assessment company in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. A former Executive Vice President for Ziff Davis Media and a national technology columnist, he's published over a thousand computer-related articles and multiple science fiction stories in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including the Year's Best Science Fiction. Jon & Lobo stories have appeared in a Baen anthology and Jim Baen's Universe.

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Product Details

  • Series: Jon & Lobo (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416555579
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416555575
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,489,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark L. Van Name is a writer, technologist, and spoken word performer. As a science fiction author, he has published four novels (One Jump Ahead, Slanted Jack, Overthrowing Heaven, and Children No More) as well as an omnibus collection of his first two books (Jump Gate Twist); edited or co-edited three anthologies (Intersections: The Sycamore Hill Anthology, Transhuman, and The Wild Side), and written many short stories. Those stories have appeared in a wide variety of books and magazines, including Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, many original anthologies, and The Year's Best Science Fiction.

As a technologist, he is the CEO of a fact-based marketing and technology assessment firm, Principled Technologies, Inc., that is based in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. He has worked with computer technology for his entire professional career and has published over a thousand articles in the computer trade press, as well as a broad assortment of essays and reviews.

As a spoken word artist, he has created and performed two shows: Science Magic Sex, and Wake Up Horny, Wake Up Angry. He also frequently leads humor panels at SF conventions.

For more information, visit his Web site,, or follow his blog,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Oso Blanco on May 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is the third debut by a new author in as many months, following Russian Amerika by Stoney Compton in April and Lucy's Blade by John Lambshead in May. I loved both of those books and I'm happy to say this one completes a Trifecta.

As mentioned in the blurb, it's the first of a series, and it has both the virtues and drawbacks of a "meet the characters" novel. The virtues are, of course, that you get to meet some very nice people *and* some not-so-nice people, and learn about their backgrounds and the world in which they play. The drawback is that you do have to spend a bit of time learning both the playing field and the players. In the end, it's worth it.

Jon, the human half of the team, is a seriously universe-weary ex-mercenary with a few extra things going for him that I'll leave for you to read about. He's smart, tough, confident and very much on the side of doing well by doing good. I ended up thinking of him as Simon Templar's attitudes inside an intelligent wolf.

Lobo, on the other hand, is the AI for what I thought of as a "mini-battleship." Like his human partner, he too wants to do well, but he resents the fact that, since it's kind of hard to hide the _Graf Spee_ in your pocket when you're trying to sneak around a town gathering intel, he's frequently left to sit on the sidelines. I ended up thinking of him as an Orca with a sense of humor and a supply of "Sarcasm - just one of many services I offer." T-shirts.

The environment in which we meet this duo is about what we would expect if we want stories with lots of action and conflict.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Walt Boyes on June 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Imagine a galaxy where a mysterious set of gates exists and keeps growing; gates that allow humans to travel faster than light throughout the galaxy...and nobody knows how they work or who built them, and why the number of gates keeps growing...

Imagine a genetically altered retarded man from the planet Pinkelponter (!) who is now brilliant, a former mercenary, and who has a deep abiding relationship with a cloud of nanomachines who live in his body...

Imagine a world where all the machines are AI-enabled and talk to each other like old folks gossiping...

Imagine a tank with a heart and maybe a soul...

Now you have the world of Jon and Lobo in Mark L. Van Name's first novel, One Jump Ahead.

This book rocks.

I wish I could write as well as Mark does.

I am going to nominate this book for the Hugo next year.

If you liked what John Scalzi is trying to do in resuscitating intelligent action science fiction, you will love this book.

Go out and buy it. Selfishly, I want to see more Jon and Lobo stories, and in order to do that, I have to convince you to buy this book. So why are you still reading this review???

Walt Boyes

Associate Editor/Marketing Director

Jim Baen's Universe magazine
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Prosopopeia on June 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Van Name's novel begins with its strongest suit--an ironic situation for its mercenary hero (lying in the bottom of a pit trap in the jungle), and with some truly clever and funny pieces. The novel's protagonist has been "enhanced" in a number of ways, and one of them is that he can speak to appliances: washing machines, it turns out, have some pretty juicy gossip about their owners' sex lives. When I read the line about "the price we've paid for putting intelligence everywhere is a huge population of frequently disgruntled but fortunately behaviorally limited machines," followed by a brief list of which appliances are the most and least interesting to talk to, I thought that this book might have some sustained appeal.

Unfortunately, this kind of ironic humor fades over the course of the novel into a pretty standard military science fiction: details about weapons capabilities, a lot of tough-guy posturing, and combat sequences. Those aren't bad things in and of themselves, of course, but I have to disagree with other reviewers--this novel didn't do it for me.
(1) It's an extremely linear narrative (one thing leads to another, which leads to another, which leads...), and the two flashbacks are clumsily and forcibly inserted.
(2) Like a lot of military sci-fi, this novel presents a "killer with a conscience," which is one way of addressing the ethical issues raised by the genre, which after all, promises the reader thrills based on scenes of killing. Unfortunately, the book heavy handedly and repeatedly steers the reader into situations that seem to demand sympathy with the soldier's desire for violence and violent retribution--in short, it tries to have its ethical cake and eat it, too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By W. Lancaster on August 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of good things going for this book. The griping coffee makers are hilarious, the technology is clever, and all the little details show a rich degree of imagination on the part of the author.

Unfortunately it never really comes together.

The first and biggest problem is that the plot is badly telegraphed. After reading the back cover and the first two chapters I figured out what the "Twist" was. I then spent the next 3/4 of the book banging my head against the table wondering when the Main Character was going to come to the conclusion that was so obvious to me.

Secondly, whenever the Main Character has a problem he either uses his super power or goes to a store and buys some technological (Or biological) widget that will allow him to solve the problem. With the exception of the obligatory captured by the enemy and rescued by friends scene it's all relatively repetitive. The only suspense is in what the new widget is going to be, to be fair they tend to be pretty clever.

Finally, there are no friends in this story. Everyone has a strictly professional relationship with each other. Now, this might be realistic in military situations it also gives the character interactions the interest of cardboard. The characters talk to each other, they rarely interact with each other.

The biggest example of this was the interaction between Jon and Lobo. When I picked up the book I was expecting something like the Vlad and Loiosh from Steven Brust's Jeherg series. Unfortunatly Jon and Lobo barely reach the associate stage of relationship. They never reach the stage of full fledged parters. Most of the book Lobo is treated exactly the same as the other story saving widgets. There is never any chemestry between the two, I get the feeling that if one were killed or destroyed the other would just shrug and go on their way. Again, it might be realistic for their character types, but it isn't interesting.
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