In the gripping start to this young adult science fiction adventure series by popular Colorado radio host Dom Testa, the teenage crew of the starship Galahad must find a new home for humanity among the starsif they fail, it will be the end of the human race....
When the tail of the comet Bhaktul flicks through the Earth's atmosphere, deadly particles are left in its wake. Suddenly, mankind is confronted with a virus that devastates the adult population. Only those under the age of eighteen seem to be immune. Desperate to save humanity, a renowned scientist proposes a bold plan: to create a ship that will carry a crew of 251 teenagers to a home in a distant solar system. Two years later, the Galahad and its crewnone over the age of sixteenis launched.
Two years of training have prepared the crew for the challenges of space travel. But soon after departing Earth, they discover that a saboteur is hiding on the Galahad! Faced with escalating acts of vandalism and terrorized by threatening messages, sixteen-year-old Triana Martell and her council soon realize that the stowaway will do anything to ensure that the Galahad never reaches its destination. The teens must find a way to neutralize their enemy. For if their mission fails, it will mean the end of the human race….
About the Author
DOM TESTA, of Denver, Colorado, has been a radio show host since 1977, and currently is a co-host of the popular "Dom and Jane Show" on Mix 100 in Denver. A strong advocate of literacy programs for children, he regularly visits Colorado schools. Dom began the Big Brain Club to encourage students to overcome the peer pressure that often prevents them from achieving their true potential. He is the author of the Galahad series of young adult novels, beginning with The Comet's Curse.
Read an Excerpt
There are few sights more beautiful. For all of the spectacular
sunsets along a beach, or vivid rainbows arcing over a
mist- covered forest, or high mountain pastures exploding
with wild flowers, nothing could compare to this. This embraced
every breath taking scene. Mother Earth, in all of her supreme
glory, spinning in a showcase of wonder. No picture, no television
image, no movie scene could ever do her justice. From two
hundred miles up it’s spellbinding, hypnotic.
Which made saying good-bye even more difficult.
The ship sat still and silent in the cold, airless vacuum of
space. It was a massive vessel, but against the backdrop of the
planet below it appeared small, a child teetering at the feet of a
parent, preparing to take its first steps. Soft, twinkling lights at
the edges helped to define the shape which could not easily be
described. Portions of it were boxy, others rectangular, with several
curves and angles that seemed awkward. To an untrained
eye it appeared as if it had simply been thrown together from
leftover parts. In a way, that was true.
Its dark, grayish blue surface was speckled by hundreds of
small windows. Two hundred fifty-one pairs of eyes peered out,
eyes mostly wet with tears, getting a final glimpse of home. Two
hundred fifty-one colonists sealed inside, and not one over the
age of sixteen.
Their thoughts and feelings contained a single thread: each
envisioned family members two hundred miles below, grouped
together outside, staring up into the sky. Some would be shielding
their eyes from the glare of the sun, unable to see the ship
but knowing that it was up there, somewhere. Others, on the
dark side of the planet, would be sifting through the maze of
stars, hoping to pick out the quiet flicker of light, pointing, embracing,
Many were too ill and unable to leave their beds, but were
likely gazing out their own windows, not wanting to loosen the
emotional grip on their son or daughter so far away.
The day filled with both hope and dread had arrived.
With a slight shudder, the ship came to life. It began to push
away from the space station where it had been magnetically tethered
for two years. Inside the giant steel shell there was no sensation
of movement other than the image of the orbiting station
gradually sliding past the windows. That was enough to impress
upon the passengers that the voyage had begun.
Galahad had launched.
After a few moments Triana Martell turned away from one
of the windows and, with a silent sigh, began to walk away. Unlike
her fellow shipmates’ eyes, her eyes remained dry, unable, it
seemed, to cry anymore.
“Hey, Tree,” she heard a voice call out behind her. “Don’t you
want to watch?”
“You won’t notice anything,” she said over her shoulder. “It
might be hours before you can tell any difference in the size. We
won’t have enough speed for a while.”
“Yeah,” came another voice, “but you won’t ever see it again.
Don’t you want to say good-bye?”
Triana slipped around a corner of the well- lit hallway, and
when she answered it was mostly to herself. “I’ve already said
With the entire crew’s attention focused on the outside view,
she had the corridor to herself, and appreciated it.
Copyright © 2005 by Dom Testa
Reading Group Guide
A few years ago I decided that there were just too many things conspiring against kids. Cynical comments from adults often began with the words "kids these days…", which basically implied that today's young people were somehow flawed or incapable of doing well. I wondered: What if kids could pick up a book that unapologetically featured sharp, smart, good kids who took on an enormous challenge…and succeeded? The characters wouldn't be labeled as nerds or social outcasts; if anything, they'd be pretty impressive role models, just as hip and cool as the traditional bad boys, but with (gasp!) brains and ambition.
I've spent several years working with kids, visiting schools to host creative writing assemblies and workshops, so maybe I'm a bit more optimistic about the potential we too often ignore. I created a foundation called The Big Brain Club that encourages young people to overcome the peer pressure to dumb down that they encounter on a daily basis. The first book in the Galahad series, The Comet's Curse, is essentially my vision of an empowered younger generation.
By design, the characters in this book are not the stereotypes of "smart kids" that we see in everyday pop culture. Hey, they have the same issues, the same angst, the same hormones as the rebels who populate more edgy fiction, and young readers will likely spot themselves in many of the scenes. But, just as with my real-life foundation, I've chosen to give these characters the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intellectual abilities and goals. I'm happy to say that they don't let me down.
The concept of The Comet's Curse was initially pure action/adventure, with a healthy sprinkle of mystery as well. Yet as the first draft rounded into shape, I realized that the characters had clawed their way to the forefront of the story, almost demanding to outshine the action element. Without even planning it this way, my Big Brain Club had found its way into the story.
At its core this is still a fast-paced adventure tale, and there's no agenda here, no pound-you-over-the-
head message. Yet educators and parents have acknowledged the subtle nod to brainpower that is honored in its pages, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. Kids simply love the story and the characters.
Hey, if a kid loves broccoli, I don't feel the need to lecture him about the antioxidants. I just feed him more broccoli.
All the best,
Author, the Galahad book series
1. After reading only the prologue to The Comet's Curse, who did you think was going to be the story's narrator? Were you surprised to discover the identity of the narrator? Did you trust this narrator? Do the other main characters of the story trust this narrator? Explain.
2. What is Bhaktul's disease? How does the presence of the disease affect life and society on Earth?
3. Why doesn't Trianna want to look back at Earth as Galahad launches? What insights into her character does this choice give readers? Where did Trianna grow up? What qualities make her a good Council leader?
4. Why does Wallace Zimmer develop the Galahad project? Who are Zimmer's supporters? Who is his most strenuous detractor? If you were a member of the scientific community of this period, do you think you would be for or against Zimmer's work and why?
5. What is the relationship between Roy Orzini and Roc? In what way does the relationship resemble that of parent and child? How are parent-child relationships a key motif in the novel? How are these relationships important to children? How are they important to parents? What different outcomes result from challenging parent-child relationships in the story?
6. What does Peter Mayer see in the Storage Section of the ship that dramatically changes the mood onboard? What are the Council Members' initial reactions to Peter's outburst? What other strange events follow Peter's outburst?
7. What are Bon, Gap, Channy, and Lita's responsibilities aboard Galahad? What qualities resulted in their being chosen for these jobs? Do you think the selection process described in Chapter 16 was a good one? Had you been selected for Galahad, to which of these roles do you think you would be best suited and why?
8. What is in the Storage Sections? Do you think the plan to keep these sections unopened until the passengers reach Eos is a good one? Do you think everyone on the crew will be able to resist the temptation of these sealed compartments?
9. What are Roc's thoughts about Galahad's mysterious extra passenger? How does he describe the relationships forming between the Council members? How do Roc's insights affect your reading of the novel? If you were aboard Galahad, how might you consult, confide in, or play with your computerized companion?
10. Near the end of the novel, how do Dr. Zimmer and Dr. Scofield begin to repair their relationship? How does this lead Dr. Zimmer to concerns about Dr. Bauer? What conclusions are Trianna and her crew beginning to draw at the same time?
11. What are the other Council members' reactions to Trianna's revelation of the mysterious e-mail message? When Trianna heads to the Storage Section to confront Galahad's intruder, is she completely alone? Explain.
12. How does Trianna stall Dr. Bauer in the Storage Section? Who comes to her aid? How does the group work together to defeat their former teacher? How do Bon and Trianna work together and what effect does this have on their relationship? How does this affect Trianna's relationship with Gap?
13. What is the status of Galahad and its crew members as the novel draws to a close? Do you think their mission can continue successfully now that they are aware of Roc's weaknesses? In what way is the crew stronger with this knowledge?
14. Do you think The Comet's Curse is foremost a story of conflicting ideologies, of the struggle to preserve humanity, or of the power of individual relationships? Explain your answer.
15. Do you think that Galahad will make it to Eos? Why or why not? In your opinion, what are the greatest threats or obstacles to Galahad's success?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THE COMET'S CURSE is about survival and 251 teens sent to save mankind. When the Bhaktul comet passes through the Earth's atmosphere, many think it is just another beautiful light show. Never would anyone have guessed the devastating outcome this comet would cause. The tail of the comet leaves deadly particles behind it in the atmosphere, creating a killer virus that affects the adult population of the world. Anyone 18 and older is to get sick and eventually die, and the virus is spreading across the world in all countries at a dangerous rate. The scary reality has many wondering where this will leave humanity. Then comes a scientist determined to not give up and to save the human race, who proposes a bold, unstable plan that sounds absolutely unethical and ridiculous to many: to create a ship that will carry a team of 251 teenagers to a new planet in a distant solar system. Everyone is shocked and surprised by this plan. Many don't want to go along with the idea, but it is their only hope. After preparing both the ship and the team of teenage space explorers for the long adventure ahead, the ship, Galahad, finally departs Earth. But soon after this 5-year long trip begins, the crew encounters problems, including the possible hiding of an adult on the ship. An adult who is willing to do anything to ensure that Galahad and everyone aboard never reaches their destination. Now the council in charge on the ship and every teen aboard Galahad must find a way to defeat their enemy. If they fail the mission, it will mean the end of the human race..... This is the perfect read for all bookworms, especially those who love science fiction, thrillers, or suspense. A great start to a new series!
The comet Bhaktul passes too closely to Earth's atmosphere and leaves the planet ravaged by a deadly disease that slowly drives mad and kills anyone over the age of 18. After unsuccessful attempts to cure the disease, with time running out as the adults die off and society breaking down, a plan is formed to send some young adults still unaffected by the disease to a distant, possibly habitable, planet in a desperate attempt to preserve some aspect of the human race. After two years of intensive training, 251 brilliant and gifted teenagers from all over the planet depart in the spaceship Galahad, but they have barely left Earth's atmosphere before discovering that someone on the ship is attempting to sabotage their mission. This book is narrated by Roc, the ship's computer, who focuses on reporting the actions of the Council, the group of teenagers in charge on the ship, and frequently interjects with humorous observations of his own. Chapters alternate between the drama unfolding on Galahad, and the events on Earth beginning with the comet and leading up to the mission. Clues about the identity of the saboteur are slowly revealed, so readers can solve the mystery along with the ship's crew. The teens on the ship are well developed characters, and, despite their adult roles, are still involved in typical teenage romances and rivalries. The fact that the disease does not affect anyone under the age of 18, and the rigorous testing and training that these teenagers underwent, creates a relatively plausible scenario that allows for 251 responsible teenagers to be making an unsupervised space journey. The futuristic world is well realized; on the ship, characters spend time playing a hoverboard sport with one another; on Earth, a resistance faction builds, opposed to Galahad's mission. The book is suspenseful, funny and smart, and despite its apocalyptic premise, has an overall feeling of optimism and hope for humanity's resilience. The conflict of this particular story is resolved satisfactorily, but there is a hook for the sequel.
230 pagesThe Comet¿s Curse will appeal to YA readers on many levels. The story is about 251 teenagers, none over 16, who are sent into space to preserve the human species. Multiple perspectives are used to tell the tale, with main protagonists Triana, called Tree, the leader of the voyage and Gap, Head of Engineering, as the primary teen voices. Roc, the star ship Galahad¿s playful computer, also addresses readers directly as a semi-omniscient narrator. Galahad¿s relatively adult-free world is a potent playground for the teens, including soccer and a skateboard-like game called Airboarding.The teens are torn between the adventure of becoming space colonists and the sorrow and responsibility of leaving behind a world of dying humanity. The text stresses this vast responsibility, especially for Tree, a bit on the heavy-handed side. But the text also shows the teens overcoming stressful situations, especially when a mysterious stowaway shows up in the ship issuing death threats. The teens¿ internal struggles and external conflicts are believable and clearly demonstrate the stresses of isolated space life.Because there are both female and male protagonists, this book would be good for all YA readers. Girls especially might benefit from seeing a strong teen female in a position of power and responsibility. But this story is not just all about space. There is also a realistic portrayal of budding teen romance, and the conflict of a love triangle.The Comet¿s Curse is the first of a series, and the ending leads readers into the second book with a new mystery to solve. I am putting this book into my high school¿s library, and I¿ll be buying book two as well.May 19, 2010
The sci-fi novel takes place in the not-so-distant future, after the tail of Comet Bhaktul has passed through Earth's atmosphere. Particles from the comet are killing off everyone over 18 on Earth, so a decision is made to blast 251 teenagers into space, as a last hope that humanity will survive. But once they've taken off, it becomes clear that there's a saboteur on board.Testa intersperses the scenes on board with flashbacks to the discovery of the comet and the decision to launch the ship. This helps explain the big reveal comes at the end, but slows the action down as the book begins. And while it's not a new sci-fi premise, it is an intriguing one. Once the pace picked up, you do get caught up the hunt for the stowaway, and concerned for the fate of the mission. The book is the first in a series, and I confess wanting to check out the next few to see what happens.The idea of teens running their own society will certainly be appealing to YA readers - there are no adults here to tell you what to do. And the issues of leaving home, losing loved ones, having to make friends in a new situation are universal. I did have a few issues with the novel. One thing that started to grate was that I didn't feel like these kids were actually acting like teenagers - - they're all happy to go to school, do their work on board, get regular exercise so they stay healthy. No one resents that 5 of the 251 are fixed to be leaders while everybody else has to rotate duty shifts. No one says "I want to sleep late, and not go to work." No one is sneaking off to have sex in the dark corridors. When they suspect the stowaway is hiding in the secret storage compartments the kids aren't allowed to enter, they reject the idea of breaking in, because, well, they're not supposed to enter them. It's a function of the plot that these are the most reliable, mature teenagers in the world, that's why they were chosen, but it started to seem a bit unrealistic. The writing is also a bit weak in several places, mainly because Testa has ignored the classic "show don't tell" rule. When the leader Tree is stressed over a crisis, the on-board computer (which acts as a parental figure and teacher to the passengers) tells her that by the end of the voyage "you¿ll hardly recognize the person you are now. And you'll find that friendships will change, too. People you are very close to now will not be so close down the road. On the other hand, some people that you barely know now will turn out to be your best friends. That's not unique to Galahad. It happens to every young person as they mature." (page 54). Excellent advice. But lying just flat out like that makes the book sound like an after-school special. What to Read Next: Kids who like this will probably want to check out the other books in the series. I could also see a match with Ender's Game, or Asimov's Foundation Series.Book talk: The comet Bhaktul has flown past the Earth, splashing its tail into the planet's atmosphere. And that's what caused the problem: a disease that's quickly killing off the population, at least everyone over 18. A ship with 251 teenagers on board is shot into space - humanity's last hope for a future. But now there are disturbing signs that something, or someone, doesn't want the mission to succeed.
Excerpt from the front flap of the book:¿When the tail of the comet Bhaktul flicks through Earth¿s atmosphere, deadly particles are left in its wake. Suddenly mankind is confronted with a virus that devastates the adult population. Only those under the age of eighteen seem to be immune. Desperate to save humanity, a renowned scientist proposes a bold plan: to create a ship that will carry a crew of 251 teenagers to a home in a distant solar system. Two years later, the Galahad and its crew- none over the age of sixteen¿is launched.Two years of training have prepared the crew for the challenges of space travel. But soon after departing Earth, they discover that a saboteur is hiding on the Galahad! Faced with escalating acts of vandalism and terrorized by threatening messages, sixteen year-old Triana Martell and her council soon realizes that the stowaway will do anything to ensure that the Galahad never reaches its destination. The teens must find a way to neutralize their enemy for if their mission fails, it will mean the end of the human race.Let me say that Dom Testa has a new fan of his work. This was one of the best books I have read in a while. It is obvious he has done a lot of research on space. I don¿t know if it is a hobby of his or just research he did for this series, but he is spot on. You can¿t help but get into the heads of the main characters in this book. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be one of 251 teens selected from thousands to carry on the human race. How would I feel leaving a younger sibling at home knowing I would never see my family again, and worse yet I would be leaving my younger siblings to eventually die. Couple those feelings with the overwhelming responsibility I would be faced with and knowing the person I am, I don¿t thing I would do very well.This book hooks you from the beginning. It hints at things to come in following books. Mystery, romance possibly? The coolest thing was the narrator of the story is the ships human like computer named ROC. He gives no hints at the end of the book. He leads you with a question then tells you that you will need to read more.. My advice to you is ¿read more¿. This is a book for which I eagerly await the sequel. The list of students waiting for me to read it and put it up to be checked out has grown. I was so pleased with this book that I started sharing bits and pieces of the story with my students. This in turn lead to the list. Well done Mr. Testa. My only word of advice? Write quickly, I waiting for the next one.
Are you on?
Got me interested in science ficition love it
This book was ok it starts kind of boring but then gets relly interesting towards the end.
Yoou couldve just said that you didnt like the other two as much Btw i lovee tthheessee bbookkss
This series is most defintly one of my favorites. There are a few parts I dislike but over all I like the series.
I liked the first one 'okay' but the next two were really boring. I read them because I wanted to know how it ends but it didn't! There are still going to be more of these! Really? Well, book three left me not caring if they drift forever in space or get wiped out by aliens and never make it to their destination. Lol!! And the computer is annoying! I skipped his yammering narrations. It would not have been so bad if he was just interacting with the kids but the author had him narrating...ugh. I gave the first one three stars because it made me care enough to read the next one but the stars go downhill from there.
This is such a good book, I'm so excited to read #2.
Let me say that Dom Testa has a new fan of his work. This was one of the best books I have read in a while. It is obvious he has done a lot of research on space. I don't know if it is a hobby of his or just research he did for this series, but he is spot on. I try to look up the author whenever I read a book by one I am unfamiliar with. I was very impressed by his site. There is a lot of information about the other books in the series and my favorite part was the science. As a teacher this part was important to me. The more students I can direct there the more knowledge will be passed down to them. Check it out. Now to the review of this fabulous book. You can't help but get into the heads of the main characters in this book. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be one of 251 teens selected from thousands to carry on the human race. How would I feel leaving a younger sibling at home knowing I would never see my family again, and worse yet I would be leaving my younger siblings to eventually die. Couple those feelings with the overwhelming responsibility I would be faced with and knowing the person I am, I don't thing I would do very well. This book hooks you from the beginning. It hints at things to come in following books. Mystery, romance possibly? The coolest thing was the narrator of the story is the ships human like computer named ROC. He gives no hints at the end of the book. He leads you with a question then tells you that you will need to read more. My advice to you is "read more". This is a book for which I eagerly await the sequel, which is due June of 2010. I was so pleased with this book that I started sharing bits and pieces of the story with my students. This in turn lead to a waiting list. I loved hearing them argue about who would get to take it home over Spring Break. Any book that can inspire my reluctant reading students is a great book. Well done Mr. Testa.
Comet Bhaktul did not collide with the Earth, but its tale past through the atmosphere, providing people with a good light show of bright red particles. Months later, adults around the globe come down with a fatal virus. The comet contaminated anyone eighteen and over with the pandemic death rates devastating the adult population. If a vaccine is not found soon, humanity will be extinct as eighteen is a death sentence to the survivors.
To preserve the species, a special ship Galahad is built as dedicated scientists give up what precious little time they have left with their families to build the craft in a timely manner. The best and brightest teens under the age of sixteen, a crew of 251, are selected to colonize a new home in a distant solar system. Two years later, Galahad led by Triana Martell leaves planet earth. They are ready for anything outer space sends their way, but not inner space as number 252 is a stowaway on board sabotaging the quest.
With nods to Wild in the Streets and Lost in Space albeit much more serious in tone, young adult since fiction fans will love this sold space opera whose prime characters are easy to relate to and admire. Although all carry a heavy burden, the teens are strong and independent as each contributes to the common good of the Galahad community. The prime focus is on Triana, who was traumatized by her beloved father¿s death that turned her into a loner unable to make friends, but capable of caring for others while making difficult decisions. Readers will enjoy the opening gamut of this six book saga to save the species.
I love liam payne. I really want to meet him that doesnt cost a fortune. Any ideas?-liamsbiggestfan