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MARS COLONY by Robert Cutting


by Robert Cutting illustrated by Jeevan Dhamindra developed by Skyreader Media

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: June 6th, 2011
Publisher: SkyReader Media

A spare assortment of sound effects and animations do little to improve a sketchy 2006 tale of alien contact.

Hardly has teenager Jenny Chang joined the century old Mars Colony than she falls into a canyon and is rescued by green, almond-eyed "Kaerians" who explain that they have been living underground since their planet's surface became uninhabitable millennia ago. Why they have decided to reveal themselves just then remains anybody's guess, as does the reasoning behind Jenny's instant appointment as humanity's ambassador. In the paper edition, this bare bones fictional plotline, presented in graphic panels, is framed by pages and full spreads of factual information about Mars. Here, many of these are hidden behind icons oddly dubbed “Time Out”; others arbitrarily split because the app is locked into portrait orientation. Viewing options for the story portion include full auto, a nearly static silent mode and a slightly more active manual advance with primitive animations (such as a spaceship that blasts off in a cloud of exhaust despite its "magnetic drive") and an overacted multi-voiced audio. The informational pages have a single narrator who not only can't be switched off but continues on even when the reader swipes to a different page.

A clumsy adaptation of a fact/fiction hybrid that was itself a nonstarter. (iPad graphic app. 7-9)