The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy

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I just wrote this review for another site.. In a thread about good books to read. I've never written a review before, so i wanted to know what you all thought of it. Damn.. I forgot to mention it's not necessary to read the books in order. Oh well.

I'm busy rereading 'The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy' by Terry Pratchett. A brilliant series, allegedly childrens' stories, in about the same way 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' is a childrens' story.

The first book, 'Only You Can Save Mankind' is about a normal boy named Johnny who, like every other boy his age, tries to find time to blow up aliens on his computer sometime in between homework and bed... Except, most boys don't get a message from the aliens saying "We wish to talk". Johnny ends up trying to save the entire alien race from the humans who are wiping them out.

In the second book, 'Johnny and the Dead', Johnny, while walking home through a graveyard, knocks on a tomb door at the bet of his friend, and someone answers the door. He discovers that 'post senior citizens' (it turns out to be politically incorrect to call them ghosts) aren't so bad.. But they ~are~ upset when they discover that their graveyard is about to be destroyed by a company that bought the plot for 5p. Johnny finds himself trying to stop a decision that's already been made..

In the third book, which i've just started reading, Johnny notices that the old lady who pushes her trolley around town used to be an old lady pushing her trolley around town even when his grandfather was a boy.. He realizes something's wrong with this picture, especially since the old lady looks younger than his grandfather. Things ~really~ start happening when he touches one of the black bags in her trolley and finds himself going back in time..

The whole series is typical Pratchett, that is to say, you find yourself laughing out loud so much while reading these books you almost don't notice they're sneaking some serious deep thoughts onto you. By the time you reached the end of each book, you'll probably realize a few Truths about Life and People. You'll also probably always feel guilty at killing aliens in a computer game and never find the concept of ghosts scary again.


Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
Cardiff, Wales
I really enjoyed the whole series and must get around to reading them again in the not too distant future.

Loved the way Mrs Tachyon had echoes of a certain Foul Ol' Person from Discworld. :laugh:

But some great ideas in all three books.


Jul 28, 2008
Sheffield, UK
I love these books too and quite liked the dramatisation of Johnny and The Bomb that was on telly not too long ago. Zoe Wanamaker making a great Mrs Tachyon in a good production.

Witch from Lancre

Aug 4, 2008
West Yorkshire
I've always loved the trilogy and my grandchildren enjoyed Johnny and The Dead before they read the books themselves. I liked the TV version of Johnny and The Bomb especially as the adaptation updated it to take in modern technology.

I was hoping that Johnny and The Dead would be re-released on DVD in the UK after the success of Johnny and The Bomb but it hasn't happened. It was a TV adaptation for children's television at the time and released in video.


Jan 23, 2009
Cornwall, UK
Great series of books and 'JATDead' is still out there to download. I was disappointed in the 'JATBomb' adaptation to be honest, my main gripe was with the casting if memory serves correct.

Captain Turnip

Mar 5, 2009
I loved the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy :laugh:

The first one kind of reminded me of when i was a young lad, i had this Amiga computer gamed called "Frontier: Elite II", and I had daydreams (and night dreams), about being in the game, it was very addictive. I'm out of that now, but I remember many happy hours playing the game, exploring the galaxy in the game (I also used to love Astronomy)

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