Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Review: Virus on Orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma

Virus on Orbis 1
Author: PJ Haarsma
Series: The Softwire (Book 1)
Publication: Candlewick; First Edition edition (August 22, 2006)

Description: A human boy with an uncanny link to computers finds danger and discovery on the rings of Orbis in this riveting sci-fi adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was something different about him, even before he and two hundred other kids landed on the first ring of Orbis. But once their spaceship lands, he is identified as the first-ever "softwire" — a human with the ability to enter and communicate with computers through his mind — and becomes the focus of intergalactic intrigue. Johnny and the rest of the refugee orphans are put to work in alien factories, and very quickly things go very wrong. When the all-knowing, all-controlling, and technologically "perfect" central computer starts malfunctioning, suspicious eyes turn to Johnny. Is he the one responsible? This action-packed, fast-paced sci-fi novel will keep kids on the edge of their seats.

My Thoughts: In this middle grade science fiction story, all the adults died on the spaceship that was taking them to Orbis. That left two hundred embryos. The computer - Mother - brought them to birth in two batches. Johnny, or JT as he's known to his friends, is the only one who has a younger sister who was part of the second batch. JT is also the only one who can talk to Mother without being at a computer terminal.

When they ship arrives at Orbis, the kids find out that they are going to be slaves for a variety of aliens until they have paid off their debt. Orbis is an interesting society which is managed by a supercomputer. After JT and the other kids arrive, the computer begins experiencing glitches. Because JT has been identified as a softwire - someone who can communicate with computers without an implant - many want to blame him for the glitches.

The kids all find that they have landed in a complex political situation. There are traders who manage businesses and Keeper who monitor travel, create the rules for Orbis, and grant citizenship. It is supposed to be a balanced system but someone is trying to tip the balance.

This was an exciting science fiction story. JT's talent lets him go inside the supercomputer where he finds an alien who might be the one causing all of the glitches. He also has to deal with the possibility that the Keepers will make him live in the computer forever and let his body die. Of course, the story wouldn't be complete without friends and enemies. HIs best friend is his little sister Ketheria but he he is also good friends with Max who is a girl who is a good hacker and Theodore who is his roommate. The resident bully is Randall Switzer who delights in picking on JT and making trouble for him. I enjoyed the variety of aliens in this story from the two-headed Keepers to Weegin who is the scavenger who buys up some of the kids' contracts and has them picking junk.

This is the first book in a four book series.

Favorite Quote:
"A softwire. I have never known of this ability in the human species, but you are a softwire."

"What does that mean?" I asked. The crowd was getting louder and larger. Now the other Keepers joined in also.

"It means that you can access any computer by simply standing near it. Many computers transmit data back and forth. You are able to access this stream and the data within a computer without any additional hardware. You do not need the implant. That is how you could talk to Mother on your seed-ship."
I bought this one March 2, 2011. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog ! If anyone is interested to read the second edition of the Dance of Dragons, then he/she can search for the search for the The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin. Very nice book.

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