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KLIATTLooking 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