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Slanted Jack

by Mark L. Van Name

Published by Baen Books

Print edition 2008

Reviewed by Dale Arnold
Review posted 2/8/09

This is Mr. Van Name's second book after his excellent first novel One Jump Ahead. (Won the Crook Award) The protagonist of Slanted Jack is not the title character, but is the protagonist Jon from the earlier One Jump Ahead. In this book an old business partner of our quasi-anti-hero Jon brings conflict in the person of a child descended from a Pinkelponker refugee in need of help. Jack of course does not know that Jon was born on Pinkelponker, lost World of gifted psychics with varied powers, or that he is the only human ever to be successfully enhanced with nanites keeping him young at 130 years of age-- perhaps because of his psychics ability to talk to machines. Jack just wants a talented mercenary.

In many ways this book reminded me of Roger Zelazny's book Coils with talking to machines or Alan Dean Fosters Flix of the commonwealth with a character dealing with hidden powers motivated by wistful seeking of a lost ideal home that he fully realizes is not a realistic memory. Heck, we even have shades of Heinlein's humor mixed in.

In the end the mostly good guys win by outsmarting the not so good guys in clever ways. All in all a well executed plot that is a fun read. Unlike many books I buy these days, it was more than worth the money paid for a new copy.

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