THE SOFTWIRE

VIRUS ON ORBIS 1

JT Turnbull and 200 children are about to land on the interstellar multi-species commerce hub of Orbis. The children have been alone in space all their lives: When the adults on the Earth ship Renaissance died of an illness 12 years ago, the computer brought the colonists’ frozen embryos to term. JT and the children have been raised by the ship’s computer (and—inexplicably, given the absence of any other people—have developed 20th-century mores and gender biases). When they arrive on Orbis, they discover to their horror that their parents’ agreement with the Citizens of Orbis leaves the children in indentured servitude to unpleasant Star Wars–style aliens. The aliens fight for the right to control JT, who is a Softwire, an extremely rare being who can mentally communicate with computers. When the ancient computer that controls Orbis begins to fail, the Citizens suspect JT, who must clear himself while protecting his friends and family. A potentially compelling space mystery marred by inept prose and a muddled narrative. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2709-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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ACCIDENTS MAY HAPPEN

FIFTY INVENTIONS DISCOVERED BY MISTAKE

In this entertaining companion volume to Mistakes that Worked (1994), Jones describes more of the often humorous incidents that resulted in inventions, products, and fashions. The telephone and photography are discussed as well as cellophane, Bakelite, Masonite, and dynamite. Another chapter offers speculation as to the origins of yeast, raisins, coffee, and vinegar, without much in the way of documentation, and a part of a chapter is devoted to the meanings of some nursery rhymes (it's never clear what they have to do with inventions). Nevertheless, this is entertaining reading, with whimsical black-and-white drawings, places to write for more information, a brief bibliography, and an index. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-32162-7

Page Count: 86

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

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WIND TAMER

In this roughly hewn debut, a contemporary Scottish lad finds himself charged with confronting a huge magical whirlwind in order to break a centuries-old family curse. As curses go, this one seems ill-defined: When the first-born son in each generation passes his tenth birthday, a tornado rears up out of the sea and sucks out some inner quality that leaves him a gentle, slightly fuddled homebody with no stomach for any sort of travel or adventure. Thanks largely to his hysterically overprotective mother, Archie knows nothing of this until his father’s long-absent younger brother arrives to fill in the historical background; help him on the requisite Quest to recover magical tokens; and introduce the Ice Gulls, a vast army of size-changing birds who are, for unclear reasons, his allies in the coming battle. Heralded by powerful, malicious wind spirits, the storm builds to satisfyingly titanic fury, but the climax plays out in an overcomplicated, ritualistic way that never leaves the issue in any real doubt. In a truly ham-fisted aftermath, Archie’s sudden induction into a secret organization called the International Curse Exterminators opens the door to sequels. Perhaps they’ll hang together a little better. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58234-781-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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