The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 [NOOK Book]

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?
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The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1

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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?
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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: 4/6/2010
  • Series: Softwire , #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 422,462
  • File size: 903 KB

Meet the Author

PJ Haarsma has been gazing at the stars and wondering what's out there his whole life. After a successful career as a commercial photographer, he finally decided to write about it. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 88 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(61)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 88 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2008

    Very interesting- great details!

    This was a great book, if I do say so myself. Amazing character development, and when you don¿t really find out the antagonist until the ending. Very interesting read, and PJ Haarsma gives great details with the variety of space life that live on Orbis, a set of four rings around a black hole that only certain people are allowed to travel through. Orbis is a haven for some, but a prison for others. When 200 orphans arrive on Orbis, they work as knud-kniks 'underpaid servants'. They have traveled on a space ship their whole life, and have been awaiting the day that they arrive on the rings of Orbis. They find freedom on the rings, but it comes at a price. For an undetermined amount of time, the children are divided bought by aliens who live on Orbis. As if that wasn¿t bad enough, what happens when the main computer of Orbis, which never messes up, is invaded by a virus? Follow the life of Johnny Turnbull, a new knud-knik and the first human softwire 'beings that can enter computers with their minds', during his first month or so on Orbis, with plenty of twists and turns along the way!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    Thought provoking and detailed for young and old

    P.J. Haarsma is nothing short of a genius in the field of book writing. Even if you are not in tune with SCIFI literature, or books of that nature, you, if you decide to start reading his material, can not help but be drawn into the vivid worlds he created. i picked up his first Softwire book in a bargain bin for 1 dollar and was less than enthusiastic about opening the cover. But I did and have never been disappointed with his mind moving and motivating portrayals of common feelings that the person in each one of us can identify with. You too can learn to love the works of this brilliant writer. Mr Haarsma is also very involved with helping people of all ages and backgrounds remember and use their minds to exercise memory and thinking ability also. I thank P.J. Haarsma for his contribution, to all of mankind, to recapture reasoning, imagination and fun in using our wonderful brains.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2007

    Fun and thrilling read!

    The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 is one of those rare books which both children and adults will love. The new world that PJ Haarsma created is complex but he does not go into lengthy technical descriptions. This leaves a lot of things up to the imagination of the reader. JT¿s story quickly draws you in and the main characters are very believable. The book is fast paced and manages not only to keep that pace but also offers some unexpected and thrilling twists in the end. It touches upon a variety of topics like the importance of family, coping with change and standing up for one¿s beliefs. Any child or young adult will leave the characters wanting more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2007

    Jericho's review of 'The Softwire'

    The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 is an excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. P.J. Haarsma is obviously a very talented writer, he manages to keep the reader enthralled throughout the novel. The Softwire is a brilliant story filled with original ideas and characters. I particularly liked the Keepers. With plenty of suspense, unanswered questions and mysteries I can't wait for the future installments. Turning the books into a movie series would be a great success as I am sure they will maintain the very high standards set by The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1. Jericho

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2007

    Loved it!

    I'm not usually one to read science fiction but a good friend recommended PJ Harrsma's The Softwire- Virus on Orbis 1 to me so I thought I would give it a try. Boy am I glad I did. It's been quite a while since I enjoyed a book as much as I did this one. The book centers on a group of children who were born on a spaceship and have spent all their lives traveling to the planets their parents were meant to work on. When they arrive on Orbis 1, the children quickly learn that they will be forced to work and will remain virtual slaves. The main character, JT is a Softwire- a human being who can talk to and use a computer with his mind. Because of his gift, he is the 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 strikes the perfect balance in describing JT's world without bogging the reader down with excess descriptions of the alien world. His deft touch allows the world to unfold in your imagination easily. The characters are rich and compelling and the story is fast paced and brings the reader along for a great ride as JT tries to prove his innocence and save Orbis 1 from the virus infecting it. There are lots of twists and turns and I found this book to be a fun read from start to finish. Can't wait for the next installment!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2006

    A Wild, Intergalactic Ride!

    PJ Haarsma has written an exciting and thoroughly convincing rollercoaster of a story that successfully navigates the classic pitfalls of first time novels and of science fiction in general, creating a story that moves quickly, characters that are as intriguing as they are unusual, and a world that I can¿t wait to explore in future books. The challenge I find in most science fiction is whether the author has struck a balance between too much information and not enough. ¿Too much information¿ means the writer is spending pages describing the intricacies of unimportant details in the mistaken belief that an encyclopedic discussion of, say, the ancient sewer system in one of the more remote reaches of the galaxy will create a believeable ¿world¿. Ultimately, this just bogs down the momentum of the plot and the book winds up on the slag heap. ¿Too little information¿, however, is when so little is explained that the world doesn¿t seem real, in which there are no restrictions or rules, with the result that when anything can happen, nothing has any value: the reader finds it hard to invest emotionally in the characters, and the author finds it hard to create any meaningful tension for the plot. But somehow Haarsma has found the balance - giving just enough information to make the world believable, but never letting the pace of the plot slow down ¿ especially in the last 50 pages which are full of surprises, twists and turns and which, like everything else in ¿Virus on Orbis 1¿ make you anxiously anticipate the next installment in the series! Kudos, Mr. Haarsma!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006

    good book

    this book was awesome.. it stuck to the story and got me hooked into it. the twist and surprises were great.. i give this book a 9.5/10

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    Great book bad beginning

    In the beginning of the book it is very slow and hard to understand but as soon as you reach chapter 7 it makes total sense. I would have never read this book if it werent for battle of the books! Pj harrsma is a genius and gives great description about life on orbis 1 Really enjoyed this book

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  • Posted September 15, 2012

    I gave this book 5 stars because it had a great story line and h

    I gave this book 5 stars because it had a great story line and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was so amazed by the book that I just had to read the second book. It starts on a seed ship with 200 children and no adults heading to the planet Orbis. The children have been without parents for 235 Earth years and they will learn what it is like to have to work for a change. Johnny Turnbull has it harder than the other children because he has the ability to enter machines. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a good sci-fi mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    TOTALLY enjoyed this book!

    I can't wait to read the next three!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Candies

    LOVED IT LPVE THIS SIROES LPVE THE BOOK LPVED IT

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!

    Great book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    THE BEST BOOK EVER

    My favorite book I have read so far. I loved it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    GREAT!!!!!!

    this ia the best book i have ever read!!!!!!!!! :)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2011

    Amazing!

    Best book ever!(besides harry potter and percy jackson)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    Amazing!

    This sci-fi novel explores the great wonders of futoristic technoloy.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2009

    Virus on Orbis 1 (The Softwire Series, #1)

    This book called ¿Virus on Orbis 1¿ by P.J. Haarsma is a good book. It¿s a book about a boy named Johnny Turnbull also known as J.T. and at first all the kids on a ship named the renaissance makes fun of him because he was special. The reason why he was special was because he could talk to there ships computer. When the renaissance landed on its designated location which is Orbis 1 the kids sooner relies the place that they looked forward to going to there whole life was a planet of aliens. The worst part about this was that now that they are there they have to work for almost there whole life so that they could be free. This is basically the beginning of the book. I recommend this book to people who likes a good fantasy book about a kid that finds out he¿s more special then he thinks and later on saves the day. I rate this book a 10/10

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  • Posted November 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    I'm the first to admit that science fiction has never been my favorite genre, but I wanted to give VIRUS ON ORBIS 1 a try. I have to say that I'm very glad I did. Besides having an interesting and entertaining story, the true beauty of the book, at least for me, is the fact that I never felt so overwhelmed with the new world the author created that I wanted to give up. There weren't a thousand crazy names I had to figure out how to pronounce, or a million-and-one gizmos and gadgets that made no sense. With this book, Mr. Haarsma has created a world that even young teens will relate to, and that adult fans of science fiction are sure to enjoy, as well. <BR/><BR/>Johnny Turnbull, thirteen, is a resident of the seed ship Renaissance, along with his eight-year-old sister, Ketheria, and about two hundred other children. Children, and no adults, since all of them died and left the children as orphans. In Johnny and Ketheria's case, their parents had signed a contract to work on the Rings of Orbis (four rings surrounding a wormhole) for four years. Unfortunately, since the children have been on a ship with only a computer called Mother supervising them, no one knows what will happen once they finally arrive at the Rings of Orbis. They do know, though, that they'll be at the mercy of its citizens. <BR/><BR/>There's a problem, though, as there usually is. Johnny has recently discovered that he's a human Softwire - the very first human able to directly communicate with any computer using just his mind. He's been trying to warn the citizens of Orbis that a virus is attacking their central computer, but few are willing to listen. Actually, few are willing to even take the fact of his being a Softwire seriously at all. But it is that fact that could possibly be the only thing that will spare Orbis -and its inhabitants, including the orphans - from destruction. <BR/><BR/>VIRUS ON ORBIS 1 is the first book in THE SOFTWIRE series, and it will be interesting to see where the author takes Johnny next. The majority of this story features him battling both the Trading Council and Orbis's rulers, the Keepers. After reading this great first installment, you'll definitely be ready for the next book in the series. I know I am, and I'm not even a science fiction fan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2008

    Totally Unique Book

    My kids and I read the Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 and Loved it! PJ Haarsma takes you into his unique world filled with adventure, danger, and excitement. We can't wait to read his next book in this wonderful new series. If you have kids this is a great read. they will totally enjoy it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2008

    A boy does his best in an alien world

    Enter a unique world with JT, a boy able to 'talk' to computers. As he learns about his new home, filled with a variety of alien creatures and new rules, he soon discovers that he must use his ability to protect his friends. Author P.J. Haarsma compliments his Rings Of Orbis series with a great online game.

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