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Crescent Blues Book ViewsTor/Starscape (Paperback), ISBN 0-812-55735-2

Toby knows what it's like to feel left out and left behind. While the 12-year-old "tom girl" lives at a boarding school on a future earth, her parents and their successful movie production company film on location around the galaxy. When Toby encounters Orvis, an outdated research robot directed to shut himself down forever, she cannot let the interesting and educated creature go to waste.

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Unable to keep Orvis in her dorm at the school, Toby devises a solution to stop the robot's unfortunate demise. She hopes her great-grandmother will have a use for the outcast and makes arrangements to visit her with "a present." Toby also harbors hope that her great-grandmother will have influence in solving her own situation -- her grandmother plans to send her unwillingly away from earth to a boarding school in Mars. Together with Orvis and her best friend and fellow outcast, Thaddeus, Toby sets off across The Empty for her great-grandmother's house in Lake Erie. On the way, the unlikely trio stumbles across dangerous animals, renegades and threats to their own survival.

In H.M. Hoover's Orvis, science fiction is subtle and familiar. The situations of the characters provide much food for thought about our own lives -- e.g., how we treat the people, things and resources we don't think we need anymore. As a result, Orvis provides not only a good story but an important and timely lesson.

I'm not normally a fan of science fiction. I prefer fantasy because it deals more with basic human issues than scientific progress. But Orvis, with its compelling main character and endearing robot prove fantastic enough for me.

Lynne Marie Pisano

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