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The Six Series, Book 1
Cover of The Six Series, Book 1
The Six Series, Book 1
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Exchanging their bodies for machines, these teens will defy expectations, brave danger, and defend civilization. They are The Six.Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in...
Exchanging their bodies for machines, these teens will defy expectations, brave danger, and defend civilization. They are The Six.Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in...
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Description-

  • Exchanging their bodies for machines, these teens will defy expectations, brave danger, and defend civilization. They are The Six.

    Adam's muscular dystrophy has stolen his mobility, his friends, and in less than a year it will take his life. Virtual reality games are Adam's only escape from his wheelchair. In his alternate world, he can defeat anyone. Running, jumping, scoring touchdowns: Adam is always the hero.

    Then an artificial intelligence program hacks into Adam's game. Created by Adam's computer-genius father, Sigma has gone rogue, threatening to kill Adam—and the entire human race. Their one chance to stop Sigma is using the technology Adam's dad developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

    Along with a select group of other terminally ill teens, Adam becomes one of the Six who have forfeited their failing bodies to inhabit weaponized robots. But with time running short, the Six must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for epic combat...before Sigma destroys humanity.

    "Adam is an unusual hero—and he faces a frightening question: Computers can't kill-CAN they? I'm still shaken by the answer. Will the near-future really be this terrifying?"-R.L. Stine, bestselling author of the Fear Street series.

    Visit Mark at markalpert.com.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    CHAPTER
    1

    I'm watching a virtual-reality program on one of my dad's computers. I wear a pair of VR goggles-a bulky headset that holds a six-inch-wide screen in front of my eyes-and on the screen I see a simulated football field. It looks like the field behind Yorktown High School but better, nicer. Its yard lines are perfectly straight, and the simulated turf has no bare spots. That's what I love about VR programs-how you can use them to build a virtual world that's way better than ordinary reality. I've created the perfect field for the perfect game.

    Crouched near the fifty-yard line are eleven computer-animated characters who resemble the defensive squad of the Yorktown High football team. Opposite them, eleven similar figures wear the uniforms of Lakeland High, our biggest rival. On the sidelines, a dozen cheerleader characters perform their routines for the computer-animated crowd in the virtual bleachers. The tallest and prettiest cheerleader is Brittany Taylor, who scissors her long legs as she screams, "Go Yorkies!" Her green-and-silver uniform sparkles on the screen.

    My character is on the sidelines too, sitting on the bench with the other players on Yorktown's offense. My avatar in this program is the quarterback, a big, muscled guy with the name ARMSTRONG written across his broad shoulders. The VR goggles show me the quarterback's view of the virtual football field. When I turn my head to the side, the quarterback turns in the same direction. When I look down, I see his massive forearms, spectacularly ripped. I chose this avatar because this is the kind of body I should've had. This is what I would've looked like if I'd had a normal, healthy life.

    (Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. I was a scrawny kid even before I got sick, a pale, undersized boy with mousy-brown hair. But it's my program-I wrote almost every line of the software-so I'm allowed to exaggerate.)

    There's less than a minute left in the game. Lakeland is ahead twenty-five to twenty-one, but it's fourth down and now they have to punt. Our kick returner makes a great catch and carries the ball back to the fifty-yard line before he's tackled. Then Coach McGrath points at me. "Armstrong! Get in there and make something happen!"

    Brittany turns away from the bleachers and looks at me, her mouth half-open. Her image is an exact replica of the real Brittany Taylor. I created it by inputting dozens of photographs of her into the program. But the best part is her voice, which is based on the videos we made a few years ago, back when Brittany came to my house every weekend and we goofed around with my camcorder. The VR program splices Brittany's voice from the videos, rearranging her words to make natural-sounding conversations. Okay, not exactly natural-sounding. It works best when the conversations are short.

    Smiling, she steps toward me. Her blond hair sways in the virtual breeze. "Good luck, Adam!"

    Her eyes are amazing. They seem to change color as I stare at her, one moment blue, the next grayish-green. This isn't a bug in the programming; I've seen it happen in real life too. I shiver at the sight, so strange and yet so familiar. It reminds me of how much I miss the real Brittany. I haven't seen her in so long.

    Then the virtual Brittany disappears. The entire football field slips from view, all the players and cheerleaders and fans, and I see the dull beige walls of my dad's office at the Unicorp lab. The VR goggles have slid off my face. It must've happened when I shivered. Because the muscles in my neck are so weak, it's hard to keep my head upright....

About the Author-

  • Mark Alpert is a contributing editor at Scientific American and the author of several science-oriented thrillers for adults: Final Theory, The Omega Theory, Extinction, and The Furies. The Six is his first science thriller for young adults. He lives with his wife and two teenage kids in New York City. Visit Mark online at markalpert.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2015
    "That's what I love about VR programs-how you can use them to build a virtual world that's way better than ordinary reality," says Adam, whose muscular dystrophy gives him a good reason to escape his body. Soon, however, virtual reality becomes reality. When Sigma, a malevolent artificial intelligence, infects military equipment, the United States Army recruits Adam and five other terminally ill teens for the Pioneer Project: the transfer of their minds into robots and weapons. Alpert's exploration of neuromorphic electronics raises interesting questions about ethics, technology, and human nature, but the book's excessive exposition makes the possibilities more vivid than their executions. Except for Adam's poignant rebirth as "a low-maintenance robot instead of a high-maintenance human, "the teens' personalities are more "accessed" than developed. Third-person chapters written as military memos, logs, or transcripts reveal key plot points so briefly that their cumulative impact is camouflaged. The Pioneers' sudden circumvention of a programming obstacle is almost too useful, creating a literal deus ex machina. Sigma is a frustrating villain; his explanation of his motives seems to cancel them out, and his appearance in the epilogue creates a twist too abrupt to be logical. However, a haunting ending scene will leave readers pondering the line between progress and loss. A thought-provoking clash between humanity and machinery, not without a few bugs. (author's note) (Science fiction. 12-16)

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2015

    Gr 8 Up-Six dying teens' brains are uploaded into the most technologically advanced robots ever created by man and become a team of unruly superheroes who are the only hope for destroying a rogue Artificial Intelligence hell-bent on the destruction of all humanity. Meet the Six, a group of young adults given a second lease on life. Led by the violent ex-gang member, Zia, and computer prodigy Adam, who happens to be the son of the tech-genius who is leading the entire operation, the group has less than a month to learn how to fight together using their new robot bodies. The rogue AI program, named Sigma, was also created by Adam's father-and now only Adam and his team can stop it. The best feature of this sci-fi novel is that the author does not portray the scientists as the bad guys. In fact, advanced science and technology is on the side of good-it is needed to save the lives of millions of people. Among a wealth of dystopias and sci-fi novels in which the scientists and the government are the enemy, this standpoint is refreshing and exciting. VERDICT A well-researched, hardcore science-fiction joyride, great for fans of first-person shooter video games like Halo and Destiny. Highly recommended.-Eden Grey, Kenton County Public Library, KY

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal "A well-researched, hardcore science-fiction joyride, great for fans of first-person shooter video games like Halo and Destiny. Highly recommended."
  • VOYA Magazine "Alpert's innovative science fiction novel explores questions such as what makes people "human," when life ends, and what people owe each other. Alpert pays Crichton-esque attention to the power of technology in human existence, but he does not demonize the A.I. Sigma, which perceives betrayal because its scientist creator, Tom Armstrong, considers his son Adam's life more important than Sigma's existence. Sigma seeks to learn from humanity while in the process of destroying it. Adam develops friendships even after his consciousness exists only as circuitry within metal. Philosophical issues about the nature of existence arise in the course of vividly described action that will keep the attention of readers who enjoy science fiction or dystopias. Do not just read The Six; make your friends read it too."
  • Los Angeles Review of Books "The Six is thrilling, packed with science and enough heart to touch this literary adult...The pace is as fast as you could want - the psychology involves action: chunks of The Six, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the new Pixar movie Inside Out, take us into the psyche as a physical space."
  • The San Francisco Book Review "This novel will be hard for anyone to put down...the promising start of a more promising series, The Six is a worthy read for anyone."
  • School Library Journal " Mark Alpert mixes cutting-edge scientific concepts, themes exploring the role of technology and what it is that makes us human, video-game-style battle action, and touches of teen angst into this roller-coaster read."

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