A mildly techy science-fiction series makes its debut.
When Jackbot, 11-year-old George Gearing’s rather clunky companion robot, is accidently run over by a car in which professor Droid’s daughter is a passenger, George’s access to the professor’s laboratory allows him to try out his new programming ideas for the repair. Jackbot acquires independent intelligence but is immediately stolen, and George and Anne Droid must dodge various murderous intelligent machines as they track down the missing robot. Terabyte Heights is a company town dominated by TinkerTech Enterprises. Everybody seems to own at least one robot, and character names are in keeping with the theme (Principal Qwerty runs the school; a policeman is Officer Dongle). Most of the robots are either stereotypically tinny and lumbering or inventively silly and menacing; specific allusions to challenges of software, hardware and programming are notably few. This first in the series has the narrative simplicity and pacing of a movie companion. A scattering of lively illustrations look like animation cels and add visual interest and cinematic feel to the undemanding, action-packed, occasionally comical narrative. Though immediate threats are resolved and an evil genius thwarted, the mystery of George’s parents’ long-ago deaths and the nature of “Project Mercury” are left for future development and explanation.
Young robot enthusiasts will surely be amused. (Science fiction. 8-11)