Starbirth Assignment Part One: Shifter

Lock Harford is a gifted teleporter who works alongside British Special Forces in trouble spots around the world. He has the ability to move his body through a different dimension using only the power of thought. His skill at taking passengers, and his enhanced senses that allow him to detect living beings as energy pulses, makes him invaluable to military and intelligence organisations.
Having acquired teleportation (Shifting) through accidental exposure to an unknown drug while in South America, Lock and his handlers are worried when a similar drug, Starbirth, starts to appear in the United States and Britain sold as an illegal 'high'. The results of Starbirth use are far more devastating than feared as criminal and insane teleporters (Shifters) begin to wreak havoc.
Lock and a small unit of covert operatives are given the task of finding the source of Starbirth and shutting it down, but their efforts are hindered by a number of ruthless people who have their own agendas to follow.

First part of a two-part story, concluding in The Starbirth Assignment Part Two: Transmutes -

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Starbirth Assignment Part Two: Transmutes

An illegal mind-bending drug, inter-dimensional teleporters, levitation-flying, paranormal awareness, covert operations with British Special Forces – this is life as seen through the eyes of Lock Harford.
Lock is one of only two teleporters in the world until a new brain-altering drug, Starbirth, emerges from South America. Starbirth creates an explosion of insane teleporter criminals who threaten the stability of every country around the globe.
Lock is joined in his quest to shut down the source of Starbirth by a small team of covert Special Forces operatives, including Jimmy Mackenzie, a Special Air Service trooper whose life is changed forever by events he could not foresee. Together they enter an uncertain future in which ‘defending the realm’ becomes a personal fight for their lives.

Concludes the two-part story. The first part is in The Starbirth Assignment Part One: Shifter.

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The Shifter Dimension

Lock Harford, a teleporter (Shifter) who can physically move through another dimension using only the power of thought, works alongside British Special Forces in trouble spots around the world. His employers at the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) need his help to eliminate some lethal weapons. Terrorists are using the weapons to inflict heavy losses upon British Special Forces in the conflict zones of Afghanistan and the borderlands by Iran.

Taking two Special Air Service troopers with him, including his colleague Jimmy Mackenzie, Lock is embroiled in a battle far greater than the one he anticipated. The situation becomes even more precarious when personal enemies, who wish to eliminate Lock and Jimmy before they can find the weapons, pursue them halfway across the world.

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Shadow Team GB

Lock Harford, a teleporter who can move his body through a dark matter dimension using only the power of his mind, knows that the only way to release Britain from the grip of marauding teleporter criminals is to fight like with like. His employers want him to head up a team of enhanced-ability operatives whose special powers will be created by controlled procedures rather than substance abuse of the illegal drug Starbirth, but the dubious quality of candidates delays the process. In the meantime he is working flat out to protect his family and his country against dark threats emerging from the madness of Starbirth addiction, hindered by devastating treachery closer to home.

Shadow Team GB is book four of the five-book Starbirth series but it can be read as a stand-alone novel as well.

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The Starbirth books

The fantasy of humans developing paranormal and super-powered mental skills has been a lifelong fascination and the Starbirth series began as an exchange of comic emails on that theme. The emails sparked a process in which the Starbirth story was born. It soon evolved into novels.

In Lock Harford’s world the experience of teleportation – his ability to travel through another dimension using only the power of his mind – is unique and different from that of his American colleague and fellow teleporter (Shifter), Mike Northwood. Each of them interprets the alternate reality according to the way their minds work. Travel through the dimension is not instantaneous, thus giving them time to appreciate the wonder of what they sense. Lock’s interpretation is that of dark and dangerous shapes whereas Northwood’s interpretation is full of colours and scents. Lock has also acquired a skill that no-one else possesses: within the paranormal realm he can sense living beings as hues of colour.

The range of skills Lock and Northwood acquire attracts the attention of military and intelligence establishments, who can think of many ways of using them. Lock and Northwood, youngsters when they discover their powers, are recruited into armed forces in the United Kingdom and United States respectively and make a significant difference in trouble spots around the world, working alongside Special Forces and intelligence operatives.

The drug Starbirth enters their world with the shock of a hurricane, creating more teleporters and people who gain other powers like shape-shifting (transmutation), telepathy (the ability to read minds), and telekinesis (the power to move objects using mental ability). The Starbirth drug is a potent mix of catalyst and cocaine. Lock and Northwood discover that genetic unsuitability, over-use and long-term use among Starbirth addicts drives some of them insane, giving rise to a nightmare scenario of teleporters who are keen to use their powers to cause mayhem.

The reader is taken on fast-paced adventures starring Lock, Northwood and Lock’s friend and colleague Jimmy Mackenzie, a Special Air Service trooper whose skill at adapting to adverse circumstances is stretched to the limit by foes unlike any he has ever encountered before.

Sometimes accompanied by friends, sometimes surrounded by enemies and sometimes put in situations where it is difficult to tell the difference between friend and enemy, their journey into the unknown is never going to be quiet or easy.

Some reviews of the Starbirth series, from readers including military and ex-military personnel:

Review 1
This is a clever action novel which is fast-moving and engaging. J M Johnson intelligently uses the science-fiction devices of altered abilities to explore a theme of covert operations in South America. It contains a detailed view of operations by Special Forces in a fantasy context which nevertheless conveys a convincing atmosphere. The author relates an accurate picture of the close bond between comrades in the context of the way in which they are deployed by their own masters and others who might have power over them. As the plot develops it becomes more and more difficult to put the book down.

A most unusual and well researched adventure which has a bearing on current issues and possibly future ones too. Regiment members may find it pretty thought-provoking. It is also a tribute to our Armed and Special Forces and the commitment they make to their country.

Review 2

Crossing genres is ambitious at the best of times, but when you're a new author it's not a project to be approached without extreme care. The care taken by J M Johnson then is the key to this books success. The diligent research undertaken is evident from the outset and while great attention to detail is present throughout (particularly in all things military), the skill of the writer shines in using it to enhance the intelligent plot, rather than bog the reader down.

Introducing a vehicle such as super powers into a military setting sounds more like a set for improvisational comedy than the basis of a credible novel, but these elements are interwoven with no little skill and produce an invitation to action and adventure that is irresistible. As if that wasn't enough, the author evokes an impressive level of empathy for the carefully crafted characters.

Humour, pace, excitement and intellectual intrigue are in abundance from first to last as the multi layered characters of Harford and MacKenzie take us on a globetrotting battle against the darkest of threats.

Topical, fantastic, spectacular, clever and above all, superbly crafted.
The Guig