Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy #1)

Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy #1)

by Terry Pratchett

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Overview

Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy #1) by Terry Pratchett

As the mightly alien fleet from the very latest computer game thunders across the computer screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces.

And they send him a message:

We surrender.

They're not supposed to do that! They're supposed to die. And computer joysticks don't have 'Don't Fire' buttons...

It's hard enough, trying to save Mankind from the Galactic Hordes. It's even harder trying to save the Galactic Hordes from Mankind. But it's only a game, isn't it?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060541873
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/25/2006
Series: Johnny Maxwell Trilogy Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 193,427
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE, was the author of more than 70 books, including the internationally bestselling Discworld series of novels. His books have been adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal. In January 2009, Pratchett was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to literature. Sir Terry, who lived in England, died in March 2015 at the age of 66.

Hometown:

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England

Education:

Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Only You Can Save Mankind


By Terry Pratchett

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Terry Pratchett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060541873

Chapter One

The Hero with a Thousand Extra Lives

Johnny bit his lip and concentrated.

Right. Come in quick, let a missile target itself -- beep beep beep beebeebeebeeb -- on the first fighter, fire the missile -- thwump -- empty the guns at the fighter -- fplat fplat fplat fplat -- hit fighter No. 2 and take out its shields with the laser -- bwizzle -- while the missile -- pwwosh -- takes out fighter No. 1, dive, switch guns, rake fighter No. 3 as it turns fplat fplat fplat -- pick up fighter No. 2 in the sights again up the upcurve, let go a missile -- thwump -- and rake it with -- Fwit fwit fwit.

Fighter No. 4! It always came in last, but if you went after it first, the others would have time to turn and you'd end up in the sights of three of them.

He'd died six times already. And it was only five o'clock.

His hands flew over the keyboard. Stars roared past as he accelerated out of the melee. It'd leave him short of fuel, but by the time they caught up, the shields would be back and he'd be ready, and two of them would already have taken damage, and . . . here they come . . . missiles away, wow, lucky hit on the first one, die die die!, red fireball -- swsssh -- take shield loss while concentrating fire on the next one -- swsssh --and now the last one was running, but he could outrun it, hit the accelerator -- ggrrRRRSSHHH -- and just keep it in his sights while he poured shot after shot into -- swssh.

Ah!

The huge bulk of their capital ship was in the corner of the screen. Level 10, here we come . . . careful, careful . . . there were no more ships now, so all he had to do was keep out of its range and then sweep in and We wish to talk.

Johnny blinked at the message on the screen.

We wish to talk.

The ship roared by -- eeeyooowwwnn. He reached out for the throttle key and slowed himself down, and then turned and got the big red shape in his sights again. We wish to talk.

His finger hovered on the Fire button. Then, without really looking, he moved it over to the keyboard and pressed Pause.

Then he read the manual.

Only You Can Save Mankind, it said on the cover. "Full Sound and Graphics. The Ultimate Game."

A ScreeWee heavy cruiser, it said on page seventeen, could be taken out with seventy-six laser shots. Once you'd cleared the fighter escort and found a handy spot where the ScreeWee's guns couldn't get you, it was just a matter of time. We wish to talk.

Even with the Pause on, the message still flashed on the screen.

There was nothing in the manual about messages. Johnny riffled through the pages. It must be one of the New Features the game was Packed With.

He put down the book, put his hands on the keys, and cautiously tapped out: Die, alein scum/No! We do not wish to die! We wish to talk!

It wasn't supposed to be like this, was it?

Wobbler Johnson, who'd given him the disk and photocopied the manual on his dad's copier, had said that once you'd completed level 10, you got given an extra 10,000 points and the Scroll of Valor and moved on to the Arcturus Sector, where there were different ships and more of them.

Johnny wanted the Scroll of Valor.

Johnny fired the laser one more time. Swsssh. He didn't really know why. It was just because you had the joystick and there was the Fire button and that was what it was for.

After all, there wasn't a Don't Fire button.

We Surrender! PLEASE!

He reached over and, very carefully, pressed the Save Game button. The computer whirred and clicked, and then was silent.

He didn't play again the whole evening. He did his homework.

It was Geography. You had to color in Great Britain and put a dot on the map of the world where you thought it was.

The ScreeWee Captain thumped her desk with one of her forelegs. "What?"

The First Officer swallowed and tried to keep her tail held at a respectful angle.

"He just vanished again, ma'am," she said.

"But did he accept?"

"No, ma'am."

The Captain drummed the fingers of three hands on the table. She looked slightly like a newt but mainly like an alligator.

"But we didn't fire on him!"

"No, ma'am."

"And you sent my message?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"And every time we've killed him, he comes back. . . ."

He caught up with Wobbler in break.

Wobbler was the kind of boy who was always picked last when you had to pick teams, although that was all right at the moment as the PE teacher didn't believe in teams because they encouraged competition.

He wobbled. It was glandular, he said. He wobbled especially when he ran. Bits of Wobbler headed in various directions; it was only on average that he was running in any particular direction.

But he was good at games. They just weren't the ones that people thought you ought to be good at. If ever there was an Interschool First-One-to-Break-the-Unbreakable-Copy-Protection-on-Galactic-Thrusters, Wobbler wouldn't just be on the team, he'd be picking the team.

"Yo, Wobbler," said Johnny.

"It's not cool to say yo anymore," said Wobbler.

"Is it rad to say cool?" said Johnny.

"Cool's always cool. And no one says rad anymore, either."

Wobbler looked around conspiratorially and then fished a package from his bag.

"This is cool. Have a shot at this."

"What is it?" said Johnny.

"I cracked Fighter Star TeraBomber," said Wobbler. "Only don't tell anyone, all right? Just type FSB. It's not much good, really. The space bar drops the bombs, and . . . well . . . just press the keys, you'll see what they do. . . ."

"Listen . . . you know Only You Can Save Mankind?"

"Still playing that, are you?"

"You didn't, you know, do anything to it, did you? Um? Before you gave me a copy?"

Continues...


Excerpted from Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett Copyright © 2006 by Terry Pratchett. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Only You Can Save Mankind (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Twelve years old Johnny Maxwell loves to play computer games especially those with alien battles. His favorite game at the moment is ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND in which he battles the ScreeWee. --- However, something weird out of virtual reality happens when a ScreeWee Captain announces to him that she and her troop surrender and ask for safe passage back to their sector of space. She explains that this is no game for when a ScreeWee dies they really are dead. A stunned Johnny does not know what to do with all these prisoners of war as he is only a preadolescent. Adding to his burden is when he sleeps he seems to enter the computer world in which he can only wake when he dies as the Americans bomb Baghdad in Gulf War I. --- Written during the first Gulf War, ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND is a powerful condemnation of war as a means to solve disputes. The story line targets the preadolescent crowd, but adults will enjoy the action-packed tale as the bewildered hero makes a plea for peace. Making no apology with his in your face claim that we are all humans whether we live in America, Darfur, Iraq, North Korea or ScreeWee, Terry Pratchett argue we need to live together in peace and harmony instead of sending our young (that is someone else¿s children) to fight when we ought to seek respectful peaceful solutions to a crisis. --- Harriet Klausner
Go4Jugular More than 1 year ago
First of the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, it's also the least strong. The basics of a Terry Pratchett novel are there, but there's just not much to it - think Terry Pratchett light. Still, the signature humor is present in nascent form, the underlying concept is innovative, and it serves as a solid introduction to the main characters that return in the subsequent two stories. Worth reading to establish that familiarity, and for a quick, enjoyable read.
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I love these books! My son and I read them when he was about Johnny's age and were totally delighted (we read a book club edition of all 3 books). I really hope that the others are published, also. They are, in many ways, more profound than the first. The final image in this book totally won my heart it was so right.