Cybertricks by Goldie Alexander (Five Senses Education) PB RRP $19.95
Reviewed by Sally Odgers
Pya, Zumie, Jafet and Trist are twelve years old. Like any other children on the cusp of their teens, they take an interest in their appearance and in their peers. They squabble among themselves and chafe against the benevolent rule of their tutors. Yet Pya and the others are not typical children. They are Hatchlings, the cloned descendants of an Earth rendered uninhabitable by the Great Disaster compounded of war, famine and plague. And as far as Pya knows, they are the only Hatchlings alive today.
ComCen and the holo-tutors put the Hatchlings through their paces, allowing them to interact only as avatars, but sending them to many different places via Virtual Reality. ComCen says they must learn how to cooperate, but Pya longs for true bodily freedom from her tiny Cell.
Be careful what you wish for.
Stranded on Earth at the dawn of the Great Disaster on the 21st Century, the Hatchlings meet Rio and Charlie, who are also twelve years old. That’s when they realise how different they are. That’s when they realise how dangerous this longed-for freedom can be. Separated from Rio’s and Charlie’s family, the six take a long and hazardous trek. The situation is bizarre, but the characters ring true. The Hatchlings struggle towards humanity as the human children try to adjust to the loss of their once-secure future. Has ComCen abandoned the Hatchlings? Is this some cruel game? As the shared experience becomes more perilous, Goldie Alexander keeps a firm hand on the reins of her story, moving the action from setting to setting, each one clearly depicted. The characters grow and develop, while the situation is always accessible. The author’s eye is warm and compassionate, but she doesn’t flinch from the harsh reality of an adventure where nothing is quite as it seems to the protagonists.
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
This terrific futuristic fantasy novel is set in the Great Southern Continent, Terra, in 14,043. Pya, one of four Hatchlings that survived the Great Disaster, exists in a Cell as do the other three Hatchlings, mascs Jafet and Trist and Zumie, the only other fem. All are nourished via food tubes and educated by ComCen, a super computer, while communication is conducted via their avatars.
Their Tutor-Holo is trying to teach the Hatchlings to work together cooperatively and independently. With this crucial end in view, and forced to face Reality, they are sent back to 2043 to exercise all they have learnt and to focus on working as a team.
Returning to the past where families existed, they meet twins Charlie and Rio, and the six children set out on a journey that will change them forever. While experiencing Reality, they must overcome great challenges, learn sustainability within many lifestyles, and slowly come together to understand the words of their tutor ‘only through great effort and understanding can another Great Disaster be averted’.
All of Goldie Alexander’s novels have positive themes of self worth, personal improvement, environmental issues and sharing the world’s resources flowing through them in subtle waves in one form or another. In this highly imaginative and well-crafted novel, many similar life sustaining themes appear. The leading characters are strong and powerful, and the weaker ones always evolve and improve by the end of the story.