The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1

The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1

4.4 87
by PJ Haarsma
     
 

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Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was something different about him. It turns out he's the first-ever human softwire -- able to enter and communicate with computers with his mind. Now that JT and two hundred other orphans have been put to work in alien factories on the first ring of Orbis, things are going very wrong. The "perfect" central… See more details below

Overview

Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was something different about him. It turns out he's the first-ever human softwire -- able to enter and communicate with computers with his mind. Now that JT and two hundred other orphans have been put to work in alien factories on the first ring of Orbis, things are going very wrong. The "perfect" central computer is malfunctioning, and suspicious eyes are turning to JT. Could he be the one responsible?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennie DeGenaro
The children on the Renaissance have been in space for 253 years and most of the time in plastic dishes. All the parents aboard are deceased, leaving the children alone. Their mother is the large computer on the spaceship. The parents had signed to stay on Orbis 1 for four years, never dreaming they would be leaving their orphaned children to become slaves on Orbis. Many people have two heads, are of different colors and have metal stilts instead of legs. Orbis is controlled by a huge computer and the welfare of the planet depends on the computer never breaking down. Johnny, protagonist, is twelve years old with a sister, Ketheria, who is seven. Johnny is protective of Ketheria who has never spoken. Soon, Johnny is accused of being a Softwire and is blamed for the computer's malfunction. Softwires can enter a computer with their brains. They have the power to spread viruses or worse. He is asked to push himself into the computer, which would mean death to his physical body. He refuses, only to learn that to refuse means death. There are many dangerous experiences on Orbis and when Johnny is almost killed, a phantom girl, Vairocina, saves him. They become friends, although she will never be able to leave the inside of the computer. Although being called a Softwire almost causes Johnny's death several times, it helps him become a powerful person on Orbis. If author Haarsma had added a glossary to this interesting book, it would facilitate understanding the technical jargon.
KLIATT
Looking for a better life in the rings of Orbis, hundreds of Earthlings left their home planet. They also produced children, who were kept in incubation cells during their long space flight. Unfortunately, only the children survive; they are either twelve or seven years old when they land on Orbis. The children discover that they have to do the work intended for their parents, practically as slaves. While in flight, the children depend on the spaceship's computer, which is nicknamed Mother. Twelve-year-old Johnny Turnbull (J.T.) has a natural connection with the mechanism, and the Orbis Keepers realize that J.T. can read and even enter the computer mentally. He is labeled a softwire, and only later does he find out that his father had the same skill. J.T. doesn't like being singled out; most of the other children think he is a freak, and some Orbis residents feel threatened by him. Both J.T. and his younger sister have disturbing dreams, but life becomes even scarier for J.T. when he discovers a creature that is playing havoc inside the computer. None of the Keepers believe him; rather, they think he is sabotaging the system. Other factions on Orbis support J.T., so the troubles get compounded. This fast-paced tale should attract younger SF readers. J.T. is very likeable, and his relationship with the virus character provides a supernatural spin. The ending foretells more adventures on Orbis. (Virus on Orbis 1.). KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2006, Candlewick Press, 262p., $15.99.. Ages 12 to 15.
—Dr. Lesley Farmer
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Johnny Turnbull has spent all of his 12 years aboard the seed-ship Renaissance en route to the Rings of Orbis. Due to a mechanical problem, the adults on the spaceship perished long before Johnny and the other young passengers were born (they were stored as embryos and raised by the ship's computer). When they arrive on Orbis 1, the orphans quickly learn that they will be forced to work for the Guarantors (alien businessmen) in order to pay off their dead parents' debt for their passage. Johnny is immediately identified as the first human "softwire," someone with the ability to enter and manipulate a computer with his mind. Because of his gift, he is a prime suspect when the central computer of Orbis 1 begins to malfunction. He must prove his innocence and solve the mystery of the mechanical failures before time runs out. The author deftly introduces the futuristic setting without getting bogged down in long and detailed descriptive passages, and the brisk plot will keep the interest of reluctant readers. Although a few of the secondary characters are not fully developed, Johnny and his sister are well drawn, and the scenes between the two are skillfully crafted. The first in a planned quartet, this book is a good selection for science-fiction fans.-Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
From the Publisher
What happened next surprised even me.

The back of my eyeballs exploded into a ring of brilliant blue light. Instead of seeing the files in my mind's eye, my eyelids melted away and exposed the complex mechanics of the computer. It was as if I had pushed my head inside, as if I had physically entered the central computer. I felt a rush of electricity across my skin, exploring my face, as though something was trying to read me. The horrible noise outside quieted, and soon I was able to see things much more clearly. The colors inside the computer were as bright as in my first nightmare.

Then I saw a small figure running through the files cloaked in radiant green electrons.

_______

THE SOFTWIRE: VIRUS ON ORBIS I by PJ Haarsma. Copyright © 2006 by PJ Haarsma. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA."PJ Haarsma’s spectacular universe will take you further and faster into the future. even non-sci-fi fans will blast off on this one." — Frank Beddor, author of the Looking Glass Wars trilogy — Frank Beddor

"I've always been amazed at a writer's ability to create a universe, and that's exatly what PJ Haarsma has done. With ease, he has created an amazing world — an economy, a religious faith, and an adventure not to be missed." — Nathan Fillion, actor, FIREFLY and SERENITY — Nathan Fillion

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763652357
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
04/06/2010
Series:
Softwire , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
350,951
Lexile:
650L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

What happened next surprised even me.

The back of my eyeballs exploded into a ring of brilliant blue light. Instead of seeing the files in my mind's eye, my eyelids melted away and exposed the complex mechanics of the computer. It was as if I had pushed my head inside, as if I had physically entered the central computer. I felt a rush of electricity across my skin, exploring my face, as though something was trying to read me. The horrible noise outside quieted, and soon I was able to see things much more clearly. The colors inside the computer were as bright as in my first nightmare.

Then I saw a small figure running through the files cloaked in radiant green electrons.

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