Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

George And The Unbreakable Code George And The Unbreakable Code
by Lucy And Stephen Hawking
Random House

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

Stephen Hawking writing children’s fiction? Well, yes, along with his daughter Lucy, who is a trained journalist and an advocate for science education. This book is a mixture of a fictional story about a boy named George and his friend Annie with segments of non-fiction mainly on the subjects of astronomy and computer science. These non-fiction segments seemed rather more complex, and at a higher reading level than the fiction (they even used a smaller font) – and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who wishes that publishers would place these sections between chapters, and not in the middle of sentences, interrupting the flow of the story!

That story is quite simple, as you might expect, with the children looking for the creator of a computer virus that is causing havoc across the world, and of course, cleverly defeating him in a very classic "Famous Five" manner. A number of McGuffins are used to advance the plot, and allow the children to wander the Solar System, principally a supercomputer called Cosmos that can create a space door to pretty well anywhere.

Which does make this into something we see very little of, proper science fiction for kids, the kind that encourages them to become interested in the sciences, which is presumably the authors’ objective. By and large, they succeed, and you certainly don’t have to have read the earlier three books in the series. (However, I’m not sure that designating the villain’s title as "I AM" was entirely wise, since that is pretty well guaranteed to give offence in some quarters).

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