From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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Like the other 198 parentless children on the spaceship Renaissance,
12-year-old Johnny Turnbull (JT) and his seven-year-old sister are headed to Orbis, a multicultural world made up of four rings orbiting a wormhole. Upon landing, the children are shocked to learn that they must work as slaves for Star Wars-
like aliens to repay their passage. When it is discovered that JT is a softwire, a being able to communicate telepathically with computers, the boy, both feared and coveted by different factions, becomes the prime suspect when the computer that runs the operations on Orbis 1 malfunctions. It's obvious that this is the first book in a series, but Haarsma fills it with exotic aliens, dangerous situations, and fast-paced adventure. Younger sf fans will happily hang in with JT as he tries to stay alive and keep Orbis from being conquered from within, and they'll look forward to other volumes in the Softwire series. Diana HeraldCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved