Aliens, epic battles, graphic worlds and doomsday lurking in every black hole! Science fiction these days can be downright scary! I ought to know – I write some of it! I grew up on Lost in Space, My Favorite Martian and the original Star Trek. None of those took themselves as seriously as the SciFi of today. That’s why I was so pleased to stumble across the Arlo and Jake series by Gary Alan Henson. Sometimes you just want to read and have fun!
The first book in the series (there are 3 total to date and I have it on good authority that book 4 is coming) is Arlo and Jake Enlist. We meet loveable curmudgeon Jake enjoying retirement on a beach with adult beverages, great snacks and Arlo, his pet chameleon…see, you chuckled already. Approached by three beautiful women, he soon comes to realize he wasn’t being flirted with, but rather recruited! These stunning women are actually officers in the FTG (Federation of Thirteen Galaxies) and they are in need of an Artificial Intelligence Specialist – even a retired one! Jake and Arlo are whisked off the beach and back into service, and if they need you bad enough, they will agree to let you bring along your pet. This is the first of many adventures they will share.
It’s not all fun and games though. In book two, Arlo and Jake: Galactic Boot Camp more perils and misadventure await our unwitting heroes. They are sent to a highly specialized boot camp designed to train the elite service members. Here they join other team members, but as typical with our “dynamic duo”, trouble is brewing. A nefarious plot involving this very camp is discovered. Danger is everywhere! Arlo and Jake will be lucky to make it out alive!
Book three, Arlo and Jake: Lost Partner splits up our duo. While on R & R, Arlo gets kidnapped (lizard-napped?) and taken to a strange mining planet where he is conscripted as a slave. How will our telepathic chameleon hero survive and escape? Despite his snarky personality, Arlo has a heart of gold and would never dream of leaving his fellow slaves behind complicating matters even further. But where is Jake in all this? Off on another side of the galaxy trying to save another solar system.
Gary Alan Henson has done a wonderful job of creating bizarre worlds, interesting characters, tense plot lines and plenty of surprises I don’t want to give away. He’s done all this with humor and wit that grows more engaging and entertaining with each chapter. You come to feel you know the characters and think of them as friends. He has managed to embrace all we loved about the classic sci-fi of our youth and give it a fresh, exciting twist with lots of laughs along the way.