Rob Oliver was born and raised in country Victoria, before moving to Melbourne to attend University. He worked for many years in banking and now works for himself helping businesses better explain what they do. As most of his work involves writing, he thought ‘why not write something fun for a change?’ He lives in Melbourne with his wife, son and a cat. Ben Dark and the Rogue Robot Rendezvous is his debut novel.
Ben Dark and the Rogue Robot Rendezvous
Schoolboy Ben Dark is a 13 year old, A minus student and B plus athlete. He keeps a low profile at school, with his friend Mike, a nerdy academic and Amanda, who is aloof and athletic. He spends his time playing the ancient strategy board game Go with Mike and avoiding the unwanted attention of the school bully.
Ben’s life is turned upside down when a bunch of robots attack his school and try to grab him. Ben is further surprised when his two friends spring into action to help him escape, albeit onto an orbiting Phloundar space ship - who Ben soon discovers are some of the nastiest beings in the galaxy. They escape for a second time to a nearby planet, and after a brief encounter with an alien dinosaur, a mysterious guide helps them onto a ship to the planet city of Civis Mondi, the centre of the galaxy’s government - the Federation.
Ben soon begins to understand that he is a Pilostar - beings with rare skills that are highly valued. He can use his mind to control machines and to navigate a ship through wormholes in space. He also learns that his two friends are Guardians - Mike is from Alenthia, a planet that values art and academics, and Amanda from Spartia - a world of warriors. They were sent to Earth to protect him, and as a sort of punishment for the work of their fathers in accidentally creating the Killer robots (Earth is considered to be primitive by most other intelligent beings).
For his own safety he joins his two friends at the Galactic Academy, the most prestigious educational institution in the galaxy. Ben struggles to keep up with the other students. Not only are they from worlds much more advanced that Earth, but many are physically stronger and more adaptable than humans. However, Ben manages to hold his own in martial arts and outsmarts his rivals in flight training.
While some of the Federation fleet is away, the Phloundars send an armada to Civis Mondi. The Academy is asked to assist the depleted federation and the trio find themselves on a ship in the fleet. Much to Amanda’s disgust it is an automated rubbish collection vehicle aptly bringing up the rear of the fleet. The Phloundars are halted by the Federations show of power, but Ben expects a ruse. He navigates his two friends through a wormhole and they arrive at Mundrabilla -a desolate planet where the Federation mines the dark matter that powers its ships (and also dumps its garbage).
Ben’s hunch proves to be right. The Phloundars use the robots to attack the base. Ben, Mike and Amanda must escape and warn the Federation. Blocked by a Phloundar Kill-a-lot ship, Ben must use his powers to escape.