Reviews: Johnny Maxwell Trilogy

Only You Can Save Mankind - Sadly Lost

This is a book that can no longer be appreciated and unlike many such books, that is a loss.

OYCSM is the first of the Johnny Maxwell trilogy and is tied forever to that moment where gaming was just emerging on the computers. It's treasures are for those whose games had manuals that were heavy than the case they came in, who blew up aliens ships in space sims, who were posed the profound question of (Y/N)? and who were familiar with a joystick outside the arcade. Some things don't change, DRM was as big an issue then as now and as always Only You Can Save Mankind. But we no longer belong in an era where the PR people will enthusiastically talk about "Full Sound and Graphics!", like bacteria even market researchers can evolve and this book is so clearly meant to resonate with that experience.

But unfortunately it's also a book for young children and the people who can connect with it's themes are now all to old for that.

Instead of being read it can be appreciated. It's the opposite of a timeless classic. Jane Austen ties small things to big ideas whereas here Pterry tied big ideas to small things. A game, an advertising slogan and small not very-smart 13 year olds head. "I'm the one who kind of hangs around and no-one notices much" "Who? I didn't see anyone?" "Right that was me!"

And we've these things he shows us how turn reality into a game, how we can go to war so cruelly and still feed the other sides prisoners.

And that's pretty cool.

Johnny Maxwell. King of the Unchosen.

I haven’t read these books in years. In fact these books tend to be pushed to the back of my head even though I really enjoyed them, smothered beneath a thick layer of Discworld joy. However I stumbled across Johnny’s entry in this wiki and I felt inspired to write about him. Why? Because he is so unremarkable. It’s remarkable how unremarkable he is. Abnormally normal, if you will. Which in terms of literature is rare. Buffy, Aang, Harry, Percy, Anikin, Arthur, Beowulf, Sabriel, Ender. The Chosen One is a dime a dozen in the media. And there is a reason for that. I think that in a world where you regularly see people with bits coming off them on TV it’s nice to sit back and think that there is someone special out there who will take care of things while we sit back on the sofa and grow fat. Johnny, on the other hand is the quintessential Unchosen One. He’s not the smartest, not the toughest, not the sassiest, or the most determined. He’s nice, he’s friendly and he worries a bit but they just add to the fact he is nothing special. In fact out of him and his friends Johnny is the character that I have the most trouble picturing in my mind’s eye. He just so... average. And yet he just does what he thinks needs to be done, because no one else will. That is far more challenging because if this staggeringly normal kid can do that, why the hell aren’t we? I only figured this out today.

And yet look at what he does. Instead of being that irritating little git that goes “This is impossible!” and takes half the book to convince this is really going on, he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. When the aliens in his videogame surrender he treats them like POW’s. He campaigns for the land rights of the dead in his local cemetery. He saves his friend when he gets trapped back in WWI. Johnny Maxwell. Getting shit done. In fact it’s a CV The Doctor would be proud of. Can someone send the TARDIS their resume? there has to be a compainion short list.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go and find where I put ‘’Only You can Save Mankind’’. It has to be somewhere.