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by Monica Hughes

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-74236-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 The choice for high-school graduates in 2154: to live on the dole or become colonists. Lisse and her friends are bright, caring young people, but there are no jobs. Thrown together by a computer, they forge a fortress from an abandoned warehouse and learn to live with one another, avoiding the streets' drugs and hedonism. Suddenly, there comes an invitation to the Game: shared computer-induced experiences in a wild, virgin wilderness. Always, when injury threatens, the computer pulls them back--until the last time, when they discover that they have actually emigrated to another part of the galaxy. Using their individual and group skills, they start to conquer the new planet, ultimately meeting and intermarrying with other groups of colonists. Hughes, a facile, experienced writer, knows how to keep a story moving. She conveys a real sense of social threat; the reader cares about the group's small victories over the mean streets. Unfortunately, she telegraphs her punches: the new planet may astonish the characters, but it won't surprise the reader. The details of environment and skills to cope with it are adroitly done; but the hard technology--e.g., computer-induced reality and painless, undetected transport across light-years-- are less convincing, while the tidy conclusion has a perfunctory feel. A mixed effort, but entertaining. (Fiction. 12+)