In this fifth annual volume of the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, young people are spread throughout a futuristic universe filled with robots and piloting spaceships of their own.
The everyday childhood challenges that they face are nothing new, just tweaked to a distant future. In “The Ground Shifted,” by anne gibson, orphan Rosetta travels in a support hoverpod instead of a wheelchair, as she struggles with vertigo, while dismembered survivors of an asteroid crash in Sherry D. Ramsey’s “Machine Language” are left to colonize an unknown planet, their limbs replaced with multicolored prosthetics, painting a picture of a kind of transhuman existence. In “The Last Laugh,” William B. Wolfe offers a bit of humor with the speculative tale in which schoolkids challenge the Authorities in a world where jokes are illegal. Unlike last year’s Guide, this anthology’s stories feature mostly white-default characters. In stories where children of color are prominent, they are stereotyped, as in Holly Schofield’s “Woomie Saves the Day,” in which protagonist Kayla Ng’s mother advises her to “get zen” and Kayla’s skill with chopsticks is remarked on; Though Aubrey Campbell’s “The Last Flower on Earth” is an endearing story of a friendship between a lost Japanese girl, Misaki, and a lone robot, cultural details are largely limited to nomenclature (Shenyin Moon) and food (mochi).
Though there are a few treats to be found here, readers of prior editions will be sad to discover it’s not chock-full. (Science fiction. 10-14)