Sunday, 9 June 2019

My Best Friend Runs Venus by Katrina S. Forest

Title: My Best Friend Runs Venus
Author: Katrina S. Forest
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Category: Middle Grade
Release Date: June 1, 2019

At 12.9 years old, number-obsessed Kade Walker has never heard of death. Literally. But neither has anyone else he knows. Kade is one of hundreds of kids “living” across the solar system through robotic avatars while their real bodies sleep in pods on Earth. Unfortunately, robot bodies can be hacked.

One day during an (innocent!) experiment, Kade unwittingly breaks a major security wall and releases an infamous hacker. The madwoman targets all the royal avatars, including Kade’s best friend, Princess Tamika of Venus.

If Kade and Tamika don’t want to become the hacker’s puppets, they’ve got to stop her fast–even if it means waking up on Earth to fight with bodies they never realized could be hurt.

Excerpt: (from Chapter 3):

Kade sighed and drew one of the metallic PizzaStix from a decorative glass jar in the middle of the table. Not real glass, of course. The jar might have been real, composed of the same unmeltable, unbreakable alloy the bots and basic building structures were all made from. But the shimmering translucent texture, with its etched crosshatch pattern--was all AR.

The strip didn't try to look like anything special. Its illusion would be in the taste. It was only about an inch long, but at home, the smallest ones gave a bot's taste sensors the strongest kick. Kade placed the whole thing on his tongue, expecting the usual tangy, salty flavor to emerge. Instead, it made him want to gag.

"Something wrong?"

He looked up to see Naida leaning on the aqua-colored chair next to him. He nodded to let her know that yes, something was very wrong and spat the nasty-tasting stick into a linen napkin. "What is that?"

"EggStix," she replied, chin in the air like only super-special people knew this. "Eggs were popular as a morning meal back on Old Earth. First, people had to sow the egg-plant seeds. Then, in a few months, they had fresh eggs growing from--"

"I thought Old Earth birds made eggs."

"Don't be ridiculous. Plants didn't grow from birds."

"Oh. Right. Guess that makes sense."

Here, Naida had the nerve to giggle at him. "Don't worry. It's an acquired taste. Maybe you'll like it when you're older." She smiled and popped one of the EggStix into her mouth while Kade searched his brain for topics to discuss with a fifteen-year-old girl.

Tamika's fourteen, he reminded himself. But she was different. She liked being immature once in a while. Naida would probably find any topic Kade brought up too goofy or childish. She might as well have been an alien.

Still, he'd narrowed his choices down to school or Mercurian music trends when she decided to steer things in a totally different direction. "It stings, doesn't it? Watching them?"

Kade had been so prepared to launch into yet another explanation of how Tamika was not her mom that it took him a moment to process the question. "Tamika and Brend? What do you mean?"

Naida removed the strip of metal from her tongue and placed it on the table. "You know." She motioned to the mostly teenage crowd below. "They're royalty. Everyone's down there wanting to meet them. We're up here bored to debt, trying to stay out of the way."

"Bored to what?"

"Bored to debt. It's an Old Earth term meaning . . . "

He stopped listening around the word "old." It did feel uncomfortable watching the party but not for the reasons Naida suggested. If this backfired--if Tamika's bot did get damaged, he'd never forgive himself. The adults might not forgive him, either. He shuddered, imagining himself locked in darkness on Earth, alone and disconnected from his bot until they decided he'd learned his lesson. Then a piercing crash echoed through the room.

Kade jolted up and saw the jumbo water dragon running its long claws across the dance floor, shattering glassware at every turn. People screamed, tables turned over, and he felt the rumble of stampeding feet vibrate through the thin metal of the balcony floor.

"What the--?" Naida got interrupted by a tremor that shook the whole room. The dragon roared and slammed its head against the ceiling. Then it turned to Brend.

He wasn't acting terribly princely. Like the terrified guests, his face was red and slick as he screamed. I should be screaming, too. What's wrong with me? The thought zapped through Kade's mind that he'd never actually been in this kind of in-your-face danger before, only watched it in films. It didn't feel like he could act. It seemed unreal.

Tamika scrambled out of the way and joined the fleeing guests. The dragon moved towards Brend as cracks spread across the ceiling where it'd smacked its head. Brend stopped screaming. Whatever color had been in his face drained out. The dragon pressed its muzzle to his chest and made a low growl.

Kade launched his phone app, the one useful thing he could do without thinking. I have to call the adults. But what do I say? What do I tell them? No, it doesn't matter. Just call. But when the screen appeared before him, his stomach dropped. He had no signal out. Not as if the reception was lousy but like someone had completely shut off Tritonian communications. The signal icon was there one microsecond and gone the next. And then, as though the universe couldn't wait to rub failure in his face, Kade realized he'd lost track of Tamika. He yelled in frustration, and the image vanished--fleeing along with everyone else.

Why is this even happening now? Did some guy happen to hack the royal dragon robot right when we visited? Kade couldn't begin to calculate the odds. And when the odds said that something was probably not a coincidence, he believed them.

So why is somebody attacking now? What's different? Kade stared around the room, watching guests knock over tables and chairs in an eerie wave. This couldn't be the first time Brend had thrown a party. So what was it? Crashes and screamed echoed around the room. Panic began to cloud his mind. The prince had collapsed to his knees now, his eyes rolling back like he would pass out. Relief grabbed Kade. The dragon didn't seem interested in actually hurting Brend. This could all be someone's ugly prank. It could be over soon.

Then Brend grabbed that precious silver crown he'd been stroking, yanked it off his head, and threw it to the floor. He looked pretty happy to see the thing gone, too.

That was when Kade realized things were worse than he first thought. Epically, terrifyingly worse. "Look out!" he yelled. "Someone's trying to take him over!" All at once, he felt like a couple EggStixs had gotten lodged in his throat. What's different now is I brought the teleportation system back online.

About the Author:

Katrina S. Forest is a teacher by day, author by any-other-time-she-can-get. Her work has sold to a variety of magazines, ranging from Flash Fiction Online to Highlights to Children. She loves nerdy conventions and believes video games can be a force of creative good instead of evil.

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour for My Best Friend Runs Venus. One winner will win a signed copy of My Best Friend Runs Venus along with a $25 Amazon gift card.

This is my stop during the book blitz/blog tour for My Best Friend Runs Venus by Katrina S. Forest.

I hope you enjoyed reading.

The book blitz runs from 3 till 16 June.

This book blitz/blog tour is organized by:

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