Joe 90: Project 90 Technical Operations Manual by Chris Thompson & Jack Knoll, illustrated by Chris Thompson (book review).

The book “Joe 90: Project 90 Technical Operations Manual” delves into the World Intelligence Network’s most unique agent and the equipment he employs. Overseen by WIN London’s deputy controller, Shane Weston, and his deputy chief, Sam Loover, the manual addresses the ethical questions of sending a child on classified missions.

One aspect the TV series didn’t explore in depth is the advantage of Joe’s age: who would suspect a young boy of carrying out such assignments? However, modern sensibilities are now more critical of this premise.

Joe 90 Technical Operations Manual
Painting: Chris Thompson
© Anderson Entertainment, 2023

I had always assumed that the ’90’ in Joe 90 came from Joe’s age. In this book, however, he’s designated as WIN’s 90th agent in the UK. This seems somewhat coincidental; he could just as easily have been Joe 89 or 91, depending on the recruitment numbers that week.

It’s worth noting that the book also explains how the brainwave patterns of all four main characters are regularly updated. Particularly intriguing is the Brain Impulse Galvanoscope Record And Transfer device, commonly known as the BIG RAT, which has the potential for misuse if it falls into the wrong hands.

Joe 90 Technical Operations Manual
Painting: Chris Thompson
© Anderson Entertainment, 2023

The manual also details the numerous vehicles adapted for Joe’s size, which he can either drive or fly. Interestingly, the engineers who modify these vehicles don’t seem to question the ethics of their work. The book includes some chosen assignment examples, but my personal preferences for showcasing Joe’s adventures might differ.

Joe 90 Technical Operations Manual
© Anderson Entertainment, 2023

Artist Chris Thompson contributes several vehicle paintings to complement the photographs in the book.

I found myself contemplating what might have been left out from the TV series. For instance, there are several instances where Joe leads other people but no mention of how their subsequent silence is ensured. In a community where rumors can spread, if the same story keeps resurfacing, it might eventually raise questions.

Surprisingly, of all the Anderson shows, “Joe 90” has never been considered for a remake. This is likely due to modern sensibilities frowning upon the idea of adults sending a child on dangerous spy missions, although recent TV series haven’t shied away from this concept.

GF Willmetts

August 2023

(pub: Anderson Entertainment/ITV Studios, 2023. 128 page illustrated oblong hardback. Price: £29.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-91452-60-4)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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