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ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND by Terry Pratchett

ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND

By Terry Pratchett

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-054185-7
Publisher: HarperCollins

An author’s note explains that this volume, the first in the “Johnny Maxwell” trilogy, was written during the first Gulf War, though this is its first publication in the U.S. Johnny Maxwell is like many boys, spending his time after school busily blowing up alien ScreeWee fighters in his new computer game. Until one of the ScreeWee talks to him. She is Captain of the ScreeWee fleet, and she has asked Johnny for safe conduct back to ScreeWee space, because “[w]hen we die, we die. Forever.” Juxtaposed against Johnny’s inexplicably real involvement in a computer game—when he dreams, he enters game space and can wake up only when he “dies”—are the televised events of the first war in Iraq, when the nightly news showed missile’s-eye views of the remote bombing of Baghdad. This offering doesn’t pretend to subtlety at all, but the premise is so very intriguing, and so well-presented (in characteristically wry Pratchett fashion), that Johnny’s cry for the essential humanity of all to be recognized, whether English, Iraqi or ScreeWee, loses none of its poignancy—or timeliness. (Fiction. 10-14)