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Van Name, Mark L.

Van Name, Mark L.

(Mark L. Van Name)

PERSONAL:

Hobbies and other interests: Collecting vintage science fiction and science fiction memorabilia.

ADDRESSES:

Office— Principled Technologies, Inc., 1007 Slater Rd., Ste. 250, Durham, NC 27703.

CAREER:

Writer. Has worked in the high-tech industry for more than thirty years; currently affiliated with Principled Technologies (technology assessment company). Formerly vice president, Ziff Davis Media. Columnist, writing on technology.

WRITINGS:

(Editor, with John Kessel and Richard Butner)Intersections: The Sycamore Hill Anthology(short stories and commentary), Tor (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Bill Catchings and Richard Butner)Windows Performance Secrets(nonfiction), Que (Indianapolis, IN), 1998.

One Jump Ahead(novel), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2007.

Slanted Jack(novel), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2007.

(Editor, with T.K.F. Weisskopf, and contributor)Transhuman(anthology), Baen Books (Riverdale, NY), 2008.

Contributor of more than 1,000 computer-related articles and science fiction stories to periodicals and anthologies.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mark L. Van Name is the author of the "Jon and Lobo" science-fiction series, which features Jon Moore, a soldier-of-fortune whose performance is enhanced by nanotechnology. Moore is cynical and something of a loner: his closest relationship is with Lobo, his mechanical partner. Lobo is a specialized machine, a Predator-Class Assault Vehicle. Lobo is capable of taking on any terrain, underwater environment, and even flying through interstellar space, while providing armored protection to its passengers. Lobo is also equipped with highly sophisticated artificial intelligence, and often displays a real mind of its own.

The debut novel in Van Name's series,One Jump Ahead, shows Moore growing weary of his violent, mercenary life. He is trying to make his way back to his home planet, Macken, where he hopes to take up a more peaceful existence. His efforts to do so are complicated by the fact that Macken is the clandestine war zone of two gigantic corporations, each struggling to control the lucrative natural assets of the relatively pristine planet. Each corporation also wants to use Moore as its pawn in their power battle. Terrorists, gun-runners, mechanically modified beasts, and mercenary soldiers are among the obstacles Moore and Lobo encounter on the way to their final showdown with a merciless corporate army. Reviewing One Jump Ahead, a Publishers Weekly writer recommended it as a "solid debut" with a "layer of irony" that is unusual in the genre of military science fiction.

In the sequel to One Jump Ahead, titled Slanted Jack, Moore encounters an old friend with a shady past. He agrees to help his friend protect a young boy, but this proves to be a much more complicated task than it first seemed. A beautiful, mysterious woman, religious zealots, and a government program to impose more law on the frontier all add further complications to the plot.

In addition to writing his novels, Van Name edited, with John Kessel and Richard Butner,Intersections: The Sycamore Hill Anthology. In this book, the editors presented a selection of short science fiction stories, accompanied by essays from the stories' authors. The book is of special interest to aspiring writers for its insights into the writing process. Reviewing Intersections for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Robert K.J. Killheffer praised the editors, who "achieve a comparably broad range of tones and approaches" in the collection.

In an interview with Toni Weisskopf that appeared on Jim Baen's Universe, Van Name stated that writing has always part of his life: "I've been writing pieces of various sorts for almost as long as I can remember, though through most of my pre-grad-school life I never thought of writing as anything special. In ninth grade, for example, I wrote most of the contents for several issues of a UFO newsletter, but not to be a writer; I was just into UFOs."

In addition to writing, Van Name has worked for many years in the high-tech world. Asked about writing while holding down another job, he told Weisskopf: "I'd like to be a morning writer, but I would require certain conditions my life doesn't currently meet: I need to have no other job, and I need my mornings to start about noon. I'm quite a night person, so getting up early doesn't suit me well at all. What I do now is write whenever I can. My day job is interesting and hugely time-consuming, so I work on fiction as time permits—but at least half an hour a day, every day, no breaks. I don't allow myself to sleep until I've finished at least that much time on fiction, and of course I usually put in more."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June, 1996, Robert K.J. Killheffer, review of Intersections: The Sycamore Hill Anthology, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, December 18, 1995, review of Intersections, p. 44; April 23, 2007, review of One Jump Ahead, p. 34.

ONLINE

Jim Baen's Universe,http://baens-universe.com/ (May, 2007), Toni Weisskopf, interview with Mark L. Van Name.

Mark L. Van Name Home Page,http://www.marklvanname.com (November 27, 2007).

Space Westerns,http://www.spacewesterns.com/ (November 27, 2007), biographical information about Mark L. Van Name.

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