Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Web: GulliverZone by Stephen Baxter

Moving away from the media-tie ins for what may turn out to be a very short while, I turned to a book that I found at a very small bookshop at a bus station. Despite it being a novel for children or very young adults, The Web: GulliverZone's author, Stephen Baxter, is one well known for his adult science fiction novels and stories. Having read some of them, I was very curious to see how his foray into the much younger age groups progressed.

In 2027, the world is at peace. Conflict has stopped, and people live in a harmony we can only dream of. To celebrate this, every February 7 is World Peace Day, in which the entire globe rejoices their peace, and among other things, access to The Web, and all of the amusement parks contained within, is free. This isn't the Internet, but a virtual reality world in which people can immerse themselves in "real" situations, from the safety of their home.

Our main character, Metaphor, along with her brother, Byte, and school mate Wire (No, not real names, but aliases. In this world, they seem to hold almost as much importance, however) travel into The Web on World Peace Day, with the sole focus of getting to the newest theme park, GulliverZone. Once they arrive there, they enter the world of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and meet the Lilliputians, tiny people who fit in the palm of your hand. Things seem to be going great, until Metaphor learns that these tiny people may be more than just data, and that far more may be going on behind the scenes. World Peace Day hasn't yet reached the digital world.

While obviously very light fare, this book still managed to be fun and entertaining. The content was obviously geared towards children, but there was a lot of extra stuff in there that only adults would pick up on, such as names (the President of the United States was named Samuel Jackson. Coincidence? I think not). The foreshadowing was also nicely done, as was the extensive use of Swift's famous novel. All around, Baxter did an impressive job. For the average adult, this won't be your favorite book, but it was entertaining enough while on the bus ride. While the first part of a series, this book has a full end, and can be read as a stand alone.


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