Tuesday, January 11, 2011

woah! book time machine!

the literary delorean has hit 88 and i've travelled back in time to 1987.

space demons, gillian rubenstein (omnibus)

i was in primary school when i first read space demons. i remember being totally enthralled, completely engrossed and i believed in this story 100%. it was with unbridled glee that i reread this series just last month.

i rejoined the spoiled and selfish andrew as he receives this cutting-edge japanese prototype computer game from his father and as he bullies his friend ben into playing - even after the game sucks ben into the computer the first time he plays.

but as the friends continue to play space demons, and as two other kids from school get involved - the new girl in town elaine and the bad boy mario - the game gets dark and frightening as it feeds on anger and fear. shadows start to appear to the children in their real lives and threaten to overtake them and their own behaviour changes with the game.

the book encourages kindness and positivity, working together. it also explores parental fighting and divorce, sibling rivalry, bullying and single parents. i was surprised that the descriptions didn't seem to be as vivid as i remember - and wonder (sadly) whether my imagination has taken a beating in the intervening years. the language is straightforward, the pace is quick, at times the dialogue is kind of stilted and the issues are dealt with in a relatively heavy-handed way. also, it's written in the omniscient voice, but also at times an alternating 3rd person, which came across now as kind of clunky. however, i think it's important to note that i didn't notice these things when i was a child - only now going back to it.

this book was published in the 80s and is actually pretty hilarious to read now, what with all its talk of joysticks and dial-up modems and other outdated computer terms. the kids talk about how amazing and revolutionary the graphics are and i'm just amazed at what a mind gillian rubenstein had - and how the characters from space demons would freak out if they saw the games available now. i'd actually really like to see that. maybe there should be another sequel?

space demons is followed by the equally fantastic skymaze and shinkei. and now they come in one nifty book.

it was pretty popular...
Winner Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award 1987
Winner Children’s Literature Peace Prize, 1987
Winner S.A. Festival National Children’s Book Award 1987
Winner YABBA Awards Fiction for Older Readers, 1990

gillian rubenstein lives here


  1. OMG, I remember 'Space Demons'. That book was awesome - I'm going to find it to reread too!

  2. My favourite Gillian Rubinstein is where the kids all end up in that dome in that weird circus culture - what's it called again?
    Oh, and Foxspell. Love it!

  3. galax arena! i must reread it...i can't remember it!

  4. Galex Arena is one of my all time favourites too. Gillian is a genius.


hey anonymousauruses - give yourselves a name. a nom de plume, a nom de blog. it's more fun that way.