“Only You Can Save Mankind,” by Terry Pratchett

“Only You Can Save Mankind,” by Terry Pratchett is a science fiction novel about a boy who discovers that his alien-blasting video game is actually more than a game.

Book Cover art for Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry PratchettJohnny Maxwell likes playing video games on his brand new computer. Even though his parent's marriage isn't going well, he can always count on his video games to help him forget the trying times around him. But even that changes one day when Johnny starts playing “Only You Can Save Mankind.” This phenomenal new game is supposed to have ultra-realistic graphics and stunning action. But just as Johnny prepares to blast another alien ship and make it to the next level he sees a new message on screen: “We wish to talk. We surrender.”

At first Johnny thinks that this is just part of the game, but soon he begins to experience strange dreams. What is just a game to Johnny is a life or death situation to a strange breed of aliens who have now surrendered to him. When Johnny dies in the game he comes back again, but the alien forces really die. Johnny suddenly finds that rather than protecting Mankind from the aliens he has to protect his alien prisoners from Mankind.

“Only You Can Save Mankind” has a very interesting theme and core message. Terry Pratchett wrote the novel during the first Gulf War. Terry Pratchett explains the background behind “Only You Can Save Mankind”:

Computers were just getting powerful enough to run realistic-looking games, although they were pretty clunky by today's standards. At the same time, people were watching the first “video war.” Every night the news showed the views from bombsight cameras, in what looked like live action, often represented by General “Stormin' Norman” Schwarzkopf, who was in charge. On your computer: games that looked like war. On your TV: a war that looked like a game. If you weren't careful, you could get confused...

Although “Only You Can Save Mankind” was written over a decade ago its message has become more and more meaningful as games become more realistic. Terry Pratchett shows young readers that what may seem like a harmless game may, in fact, be deeper than you think. In reading “Only You Can Save Mankind,” I also felt that Pratchett did a great job of highlighting the way that news makes war seem like a game, even while the video game industry does its best to make war games seem like harmless fun.

I definitely recommend “Only You Can Save Mankind” because it is a fun to read book with a valuable message.

Inkweaver Book Rating:





Your Rating:
Inkweaver Review 2009-06-16T17:23:00-05:00

47 replies so far. What are your thoughts?

Book Calendar said...

I rather like Terry Pratchett. Very good choice. It was rather sad when he got alzheimers. Supposedly he was a technical writer for nuclear power plants. He claims that is how he learned to stretch the truth so much. His writing is very funny.

NathanKP said...

Thank you Book Calendar. I really enjoyed Terry Pratchett's many books.

He was a very imaginative writer.

Anonymous said...

I absouilutly loved the book

Anonymous said...

this is the most stupid book in the world! I had to raed it for school this summer and i hated every minute of it!

Anonymous said...

I dont get it

Anonymous said...

I didn't like it. Not one bit. Don't get it for a kid 9+ years old. Or a girl.

Anonymous said...

Very much liked it. One of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

This was a pretty good book. At some points it didn't make sense, but for the most part, it was fun to read.

Marge Wood said...

Hi guys, I'm a grandmother. I think maybe you have to get older to really realize what Pratchett is doing. His books are wonderfully written. Right now I'm reading ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND. Kind of like being on a roller coaster, isn't it. You might also like some of his adult books which are in an alternate universe. My favorites are THE TRUTH (about journalism) and THUD, about, well, I've kind of forgotten so it means it's time to reread it, but it's about a sheriff-kind of person who goes to visit a very powerful ruler and his adventures along the way. Anyway all of you are old enough to read these very entertaining and thought-provoking novels.

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marlenedetierro said...

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