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Expert Assistance Paperback – January 31, 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Collins is the author of the science-fiction novel Monitor, published in 2010 by Whiskey Creek Press. His second novel, Lisa’s Way, came out in 2008. He has sold over 70 short science-fiction and fantasy stories to magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine; Tales of the Talisman; Space Westerns; The Fifth Di...; and Sorcerous Signals. In 2009 he self-published a short-story collection, The Sagas of Surgard. Mr. Collins is also the author of numerous nonfiction works. His book, Jim Lane: Scoundrel, Statesman, Kansan, published in 2007 by Pelican, was a finalist for biography of the year as voted by the Society of Midland Authors. Pelican released his biography of a Kansas Civil War general in 2005. He has had six railroad books published by South Platte Press, including Kansas Railroad Attractions and Ghost Railroads of Kansas. He has sold dozens of articles to periodicals such as Working Writer; Wild West; Chronicle of the Old West; and Territorial Magazine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1456510088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456510084
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,582,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Expert Assistance is announced as retro science fiction. This is a category that can be viewed a number of ways. It can be nostalgic, evoking an era when pulp Sci-Fi authors who knew very little actual science pumped out volume after volume of ray-guns and faster-than-light drives; it can be a sort of theoretical spacepunk, based on technology that was once thought possible but we now know is not; it can even be a cheap excuse for the author to know perhaps a little less about the science than he ought. Either way, it is genre fiction, and if your preferred genre of SF is the one that comes to an end in 1969, that prefers to ignore the physically impossibly and concentrate on the space cowboys and bridge-bunnies - in short, if you are an avid Stainless Steel Rat fan, Expert Assistance is for you.

This is a story that flaunts its Harrison heritage with affection and pride. It is written with the same flair and confidence that you find in Harrison when he lays his ethical and political principals aside in order to have a bit of a romp on the spaceways.

Given when this book was written, I would have appreciated the occasional nod to contemporary SF - indeed there are a number of occasions where the author could have (but perhaps forbore to) had a dig at the worthy pseudo-accurate science of so-called "hard SF". Blindness to anything beyond a genre that is as self-consciously ringfenced as this could so easily lead to a kind of sulky neo-luddism. Not so here; the pace of the narrative and the agreeably pulpy lightness of the characters carried me along.

If I really scrape around for criticisms, they would be about pacing and padding. There are a number of fairly lengthy segments which while well written could be completely removed with no loss whatsoever.
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Format: Paperback
Article first published as Book Review: Expert Assistance by Robert Collins on Blogcritics.

Going from being broke and having no opportunity to redeem yourself to having two opposing gigs is something that can really throw you off stride. When one job entails protection of a seriously spoiled Diva, and the other entails helping a rebellion to succeed on a compromised planet, how do you choose the one most important. Or do you?

Jake Bonner is a down and out spaceship pilot. He is in hock and only has a ship because it was abandoned in space where he was able to connect to the ships computer, Odin. Without Odin, most of what Jake has accomplished would not have been possible. All the same, Jake is in trouble. He is unable to pay his debts so when Odin is able to secure him not just one job but two; he is ready to take charge.

Evvie Martini, a young pop star, is his initial workload. He is to chauffeur her and keep her safe during her tour. When her tour just happens to coincide with his second opportunity it seems like luck is smiling with him. Daniel and Clarissa Rosen need help overthrowing the dictatorial ruler of their planet. This is more to Jakes liking and abilities, but the money is necessary from his chauffeuring gig. In between concerts and tours, Jake is hard at work helping the Rosen's along the way on their rebellion. Keeping the two jobs separate is really becoming an issue, and when Evvie finds out what he is up to there is no stopping her. She is now convinced that the publicity she would receive by being involved in helping in the rebellion will give her better standing with her fans, and when her parents and publicist agree, Jake is in for the time of his life.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Spoilers Read At Your Own Risk

Sit back and imagine, if you will, a story where Lazarus Long, Hannah Montanna, and Marvin the Paranoid Android on prozac get together to liberate a planet. Got that image in your head? Sounds like fun doesn't it? Yep. Reading it was fun, too.

Jake, the main character is something of a cross between Han Solo and Lazarus Long. Like Han he's in financial trouble. Like Lazarus he seems to have seen and done everything at least once. And like both of them he exudes a sense of fond grouchiness at the naive-cute-and-fuzzy-puppy types that keep tripping through his life.

Like Lazarus, Jake has a sentient computer/spaceship with a brain the size of a planet. This one is not depressed, but does seem to have a dry sense of humor and irony sensors on overdrive. Odin, in addition to knowing basically everything that ever was recorded, also has teleporter technology, can build almost anything, and crack basically any code. As you can imagine, Odin is a very good friend to have. Odin was built as a military vessel. He became sentient and decided he did not want to be a warship. Jake found him floating abandoned in the middle of space, probably bought him some fuel, and the two have been together since.

And now, looking for some fast money, Jake has a new job. Two new jobs really. One is shuttling Evvie Martini (Hannah Montanna, down to her dyed hair) from gig to gig. The other is helping the people of Antioch Two throw off Sordius Maxi, the owner of their planet.

Of course, eventually Evvie finds out about the revolution, gets involved, and a cute little tale that can be described as "Yay Liberty!" ensues. The story is more or less the fictional equivalent of kettle corn.
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