What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

SOLVED: Children's/YA > SOLVED. UK 80s teens book/TV series about genius children at special school, sinister plot

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (drsarah) | 126 comments This was both a book and TV series, but I can't remember which came first. It was out in the 80s in the UK and it's bugging me that I can't remember the name. (If anyone knows of a similar forum for finding old TV series, I'll post there as well.)

The main character is a teenage maths genius. I'm fairly sure his name's Martin. Book starts out with him being misunderstood at school because he's actually far too clever for them and so tunes out in lessons; at one point, he's asked to solve a maths problem in class and does so without needing to do any of the intermediate calculations, promptly getting in trouble as the teacher accuses him of cheating by looking at the answers in the book.

He's then headhunted by a boarding school for geniuses. He moves in there and at first everything seems perfect; he gets to have his room decorated and furnished to his specifications, there's 24-hour room service from the kitchens, and the teachers call the children 'sir' and 'ma'am' to show respect for their genius. However, he gradually realises that the problems he's being given are getting increasingly sinister; his solutions could be used to power a nuclear bomb that could destroy the earth.

He talks to a girl there; think her name is Sue. Her speciality is genetics, so he asks her whether it's possible that her work could be used to breed more obedient humans who could be used as slaves.

The school also hold sessions where a student and teacher are put in a room together for some kind of weird session of psyching each other out/picking at each other's weaknesses, which seems to be used to manipulate the children. I remember Martin telling his teacher, during the first of these sessions, "You're a middle-class nothing who's pretty good at doing sums but a three-quid pocket calculator's better."

Meanwhile, a special agent of some sort is trying to infiltrate the school to find out what's going on. Also, Martin's older brother is becoming concerned about the situation (I forget why; think there was something about letters being destroyed by the school so they could convince the children their families didn't care, with outgoing letters likewise being destroyed so family didn't hear back) and goes to try and rescue him. There's some kind of big dramatic scene with Martin escaping and the special agent trying to help him and both of them running into the brother, who is shocked by his brother's psychological deterioration.

I've forgotten exactly how it ends, except that there's a scene with Martin sticking some paper into a bin in the abandoned building where they'd been hiding out; from previous scenes we know this is his final calculations for what's needed to build the deadly bomb, so this indicates that he's thrown them away rather than hand them over to someone.

message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (drsarah) | 126 comments Oh, goodness, I typed out all of that and then found a Wikipaedia page on 80s TV shows and recognised the name from there. Codename Icarus. Oh, well, at least I found it...

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