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Virus on Orbis 1

(The Softwire #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,168 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
A human boy with an uncanny link to computers finds danger and discovery on the rings of Orbis in this riveting sci-fi adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was something different about him, even before he and two hundred other kids landed on the first ring of Orbis. But once their spaceship lands, he is identified as the first-ever "softwire"
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Candlewick Press
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Denae Christine
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, space-travel
It was amazing except for a few things that were left out. Kids wouldn't look for them, wouldn't need them, but I felt there wasn't enough detail about the rings and Orbis 1. Half the time, even when JT was awake, it felt like he was dreaming because there didn't always seem to quite be enough concrete objects to identify with and anchor me to the setting. Just IMHO.
I loved the way his abilities were defined and how they grew. I liked how something new was always being revealed, and I liked how
Jaime the Wizzard
I’m going to be completely honest with y’all: the only reason I downloaded and read this book is because Nathan Fillion tweeted about it. If I can’t trust Captain Tightpants to recommend good books who can I trust?

Anyways, this book was really engaging right from the get-go. If you’ve ever played a board game called ‘Starfarers of Catan’ then some of the back-story may look a little familiar (it did to me anyways) but that made it more enjoyable for me. We start off on a ship with 200+ kids run
Laine The Librarian
Traveling is the best. You get to see different views, seek new life forms, and when you are traveling in a spaceship through the stars, the vastness of space is something to die for.

Except the children aboard a spaceship heading towards a Ring called Orbis didn't except their parents to die. The only parent the children aboard the spacecraft is the ships computer called Mother. Only thing is Mother is quite quiet to the children....all except one.

Johnny Turnbull, a 13 year old kid, can communic
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
My ten year old son is reading this aloud to me...our Summer Reading Program. Really enjoying it so far!

Alas, when we finished, I almost felt relieved because my son wasn't as into the story as we both we originally.

Overall, I thought the descriptions left much to be son asked me many times, "So, what do you think so-an-son looks like?" And I could only reread the brief description provided for each alien and say, "try to picture it in your own mind"...that is what is so great abou
Bob Rust
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Softwire sequence, beginning with The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 (2006) and ending with The Softwire: Awakening on Orbis 4 (2010) follows the Young Adult experiences of a "softwire" – a human capable of interaction with various forms of information-saturated Technology in a Space Opera frame. Haarsma has created a computer Role Playing Game for this world, The Rings of Orbis, which can be played free online though some sections can only be unlocked by passwords which require familiarity with ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Welp, this was interesting.

I mean, it's not high science-fiction by any stretch of the imagination: the characters are wooden, the plot feels contrived in some places, and overall it's just not an exciting novel to read at all. I found myself skimming over some parts (especially the dreams) and wondering why they had to be so long when they were barely relevant.

Mind you, I'm hardly the target audience.

No matter who you are, I wouldn't recommend this book: it's not atrocious, but there are bet
It is wonderful to see hard sci-fi being written for children again. It is something that is seen to rarely these days. This book is interesting and competently done, and I would recommend it to children in grade 4-7.

However, as a caveat to that, it is certainly a flawed book. First it wears its influences on its sleeves, though children won't know that. Plus a major plot twist at the end comes out of nowhere. It's the kind of thing that really needed foreshadowing to be satisfying, and that rea
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 Book Review
The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma is a science fiction story about a human boy with the ability to interact with computers using his mind. This novel can be considered an “underdog” story because although at the beginning many view Johnny Turnbull as insane due to his ability, but by the end he is revered because he saves their home, Orbis, using his power. The major themes in this novel include family, perseverance, and compassion. This novel
Kathy Martin
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this middle grade science fiction story, all the adults died on the spaceship that was taking them to Orbis. That left two hundred embryos. The computer - Mother - brought them to birth in two batches. Johnny, or JT as he's known to his friends, is the only one who has a younger sister who was part of the second batch. JT is also the only one who can talk to Mother without being at a computer terminal.

When they ship arrives at Orbis, the kids find out that they are going to be slaves for a v
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an enjoyable science fiction read that is not only good for adults, but late elementary school to junior high kids will also enjoy. It's unusual (at least for me) to find a book the whole family can enjoy without one set feeling as if it is too "dumbed down" for the younger set to understand and annoy the parents, nor too detailed or technical that the younger set will get frustrated.

The author does a good job of quickly getting you into the story as well as lots of action that has you e
Tom Malinowski
One of the more successful sci-fi books for younger readers. Aboard Johnny's ship, all the parents have died due to an accident, and the ship enabled the embryos to be hatched, so all their lives the children have never known any authority except, their ship, Mother. When they finally reach the fabled rings of Orbis, their lives are thrown in upheaval. Johnny is known as a softwire, he can communicate with machines with his mind. This power is coveted by the many aliens and factions on Orbis 1. ...more
Sean Waite
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I saw nothing wrong with this fantastic book. It just clicked to my mind! It was so detailed, the characters were amazing! The thing about this book, I love these types of books. I read it in 1 day. It was amazing! The characters had perfect emotions and details, which helped for the voices that I thought for them in my head. I loved the characters, funny, awesome, and creative. Theylor being my favorite. Overall, I loved this book so much! Easy to read as well and the story is so clean and awes ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi_fantasy
Pretty good. Started it 3 times but got distracted by other things. Glad I finished it.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The second book of this year I read was Virus On Orbis 1 by P.J. Haarsma. The book was about a group of kids that are born on a spaceship headed for the rings of Orbis, which is where their parents were meant to be going but died on the way there. One of the kids on the spaceship was the first human softwire; a being who can access any computer using just their minds and being close to them. Throughout the book are adventures and peril, as you follow JT on his travels.
The thing that I liked ab
I got this as a free download on Free is good, and free in YA/sci-fi seemed like a great find to me. But I'm actually surprised by all the good reviews this is getting. I found it to be just passable. The story had promise, but it just didn't deliver.

Here's the deal: JT and 200 other kids have traveled to Orbis 1 on a ship that looked after them after all their parents died. (The kids never knew their parents, btw, they were all sort-of hatched on the ship after an accident.) Upon their
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I am not a big science fiction reader but I definitely think this book will appeal to my upper Primary school readers. There is lots of action, an intriguing protagonist who can enter and manipulate files in a computer, aliens, futuristic technology, live in a different galaxy and more. On top of all the protagonist, Johnny Turnbull, is a very likable character who has his heart in the right spot, supported by a spirited group of friends and his little sister.
Jennifer Patterson
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 10+
Shelves: ya
I’ll admit that my speed reading days for books left me in college. Even with my fun books that I read, it can take me a several days to finish one. So when I went through the Softwire Series in roughly a week, you know it’s got to be amazing! Oddly enough, I have to thank Nathon Filion for tweeting a link for a free digital copy of the first book (Virus on Orbis 1).

The brief synopsis from P.J. Haarsma’s site really hooked me in too.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was so
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

I'm the first to admit that science fiction has never been my favorite genre, but I wanted to give VIRUS ON ORBIS 1 a try. I have to say that I'm very glad I did. Besides having an interesting and entertaining story, the true beauty of the book, at least for me, is the fact that I never felt so overwhelmed with the new world the author created that I wanted to give up. There weren't a thousand crazy names I had to figure out how to pronounce, or a million-and-o
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A group of kids, raised on a spaceship by a computer program, have finally reached their new home of Orbis 1 only to find out that their destiny is to be enslaved in order to pay off their parents’ debt. While trying to make the most of the life that’s been thrown at them, JT comes to find that he has a special gift that is not only rare to anyone, but has never before been seen in a human. JT is a softwire. He can communicate with machines in a way that no one else can: by physically up-linking ...more
Alexis DeSousa
I have to say that this book had me from the start! It was really an enjoyable read, one that I wish I had been able to come across as a teen reader. And what’s also awesome about it? It’s FREE on Kindle (click the image to get there).

So, The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 is a sci-fi novel, that, although it is considered a young adult novel, appeals to all ages. I really found the characters highly relatable and very interesting. As soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.

The novel centers
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans who want a quick read to add to their imagination
This wasn't a bad read at all. It was one of the books I listened to on my Kindle on my way to and fro from Nashville to Atlanta. It had a good premise, fairly gripping from the beginning, and had a lot of things that you remembered in passing and had a HUGE part in the story towards the end. That was more of a con since I was listening to my Kindle read it, but I don't think it's a big deal if you're ACTUALLY reading it.

Johnny is a great character, but Ketheria was my favorite. I might just hav
Heather Pearson
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in the Softwire series. It is a YA series written by Canadian author PJ Haarsma. I found it as a free download on Kobo a few days after I bought my BlackBerry Playbook.

It is the story of a group of children who are travelling on a generational ship (travelling for hundreds of years) and for some un-explained reason, all the parents are dead. They have mostly been raised and educated by the computer systems on the ship. The voyage ends and the children are landed on the fir
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Virus on Orbis 1 is the start to a four-part series entitled, The Softwire.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny has spent all of his life living on a spaceship in route to the rings of Orbis. His parents (as well as all of the other parents on board) where to complete 4 years of work on the rings of Orbis with the hope of eventually becoming citizens. However, there was an error on the ship and all of the adults died in the hibernation pods. The ship continued to pilot itself there, even somehow "hatching"
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull and two hundred other human kids land on the first ring of Orbis, in a sleeper ship where all the adults have died. But once their spaceship lands, he is identified as the first-ever "softwire" — a human with the ability to enter and communicate with computers through his mind — and becomes the focus of intergalactic intrigue. Johnny and the rest of the refugee orphans are put to work in alien factories to pay off the cost of passage to Orbis, and very quickly t ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, kids, scifi
I picked this up for free (or possibly just a couple bucks) on the Twitter recommendation of Nathan Fillion. Not half bad for a random free book from Amazon.

This felt kind of like a poor man's Ender's Game, but it was enjoyable. A ship full of children make it to their final destination after their parents' cryo chambers failed. Sold as slaves to residents of their new home, they stumble across a computer virus that could mean the end of their world.

The main character, JT, is a 'softwire', someo
Greg McClay
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First I confess the reason I read this was because Nathan Fillion was holding it in his ALA READ poster which is a level of fanboy I would generally prefer to avoid.

That said the book was terrific and I look forward to reading the rest. Its not often I would prefer a book to be longer but the potential in the setting and plot is limitless. My absolute favorite thing about the book is the idea of the indentured servant. The kids are in a challenging and difficult situation but there's a light at
After Ender's Game opened me up to science fiction set in outer space, I gave The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 a try and found another enjoyable read that I can recommend to my middle-school students.

This is the first book in a four-book series (something I did not know when I downloaded it to me kindle--for free!), but the ending did feel satisfying, even without reading on. Both qualities (part of a series series and satisfying conclusion) are definite pluses in my opinion. Also, Haarsma did a g
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read The Softwire because I got it free on my Kindle and wanted to see what our junior edition customers might be reading.

The Softwire was a very interesting book that I enjoyed reading. The story is about J.T. Turnbull, who was born on a spaceship with many other children, after all their parents died because of a malfunction on the ship.

They are traveling to the Rings of Orbis, the planet where their parents had promised to work. When they get to Orbis, the orphans find out not everyone is p
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book The Softwire: Virus on orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma is set in the future when over population it becoming a problem on earth. Because of this people are taking space ships and are traveling to other planets. It the main character, Jonny Turnbull's case her is going to the first ring of Orbis. The rings of orbis were man made things that go around a worm hole. These rings were built by the "ancients" and the people call them so they could harvest Crystal from its 2 moons. Along with the rings, ...more
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens, ya, sci-fi
As a caveat, I only picked this book up because I had been reading too many girl-oriented juvenile and YA books, and I just wanted at decent "boy book" to read, and I knew that this one probably wouldn't be great, but I just couldn't pass up a book with a comment from Nathan Fillion on it! If you're not the type to have a nerd crush on him from Firefly, then you would probably have an I <3 Castle crush on him.

This book was good, but by all means not great. I think that it is a good book parti
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A lot about The Softwire comes from my own experiences growing up. No, I never traveled on a seed-ship to Orbis but I did feel like I was a slave working in my parents ceramic factory as a teenager. In the summer I would slug 50lbs+ molds around while standing in a room with kilns firing at 1400 degrees. It wasn't fun and at the time I really resented my parents for it. I felt used and not in cont ...more

Other books in the series

The Softwire (4 books)
  • Betrayal on Orbis 2 (The Softwire #2)
  • Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3 (The Softwire #3)
  • Awakening on Orbis 4 (The Softwire #4)