Of the many genres aimed at young readers, fantasy has proven to be extraordinarily popular and an ‘awesome’ number have appeared on our shelves. All fantasy has certain common elements: they must take place in a consistent, if imaginary world. Their major theme, much like the fairy story, is good versus evil, with good eventually winning out against what seems like insurmountable odds. The reader is asked to suspend disbelief with a completeness that is not required in more traditional genres.
If the best fantasy is written with flair and imagination, it can also be used as metaphor, such as coping with climate warming, protecting the environment, ensuring endangered animals survive, overcoming totalitarian rule. They all offer the hope that everything can and will, turn out for the best.
‘eSide: A Journey Through Cyberspace’, has gone through several metamorphosis. Originally a long short story for my collection ‘My Horrible Cousins and Other Stories’ and called ‘The Great Google’, I extended the idea into a five part novel that would hopefully help more reluctant readers tackle what would otherwise be a big project, and feel a sense of achievement. Because this story blends fantasy, science fiction and reality, I had hoped that it was different enough to make it stand out from the usual Tolkien style novel.
I already had one of my favourite characters in place, the magician tGF, favourite because he commands dishes to wash themselves, towels to hang themselves on a line, and manage lots of other household tasks with just a twitch of his fingers. I liked the idea of placing fantasy inside a recognisable setting, and the small, friendly Conch Café where some of the action takes place is similar to many cafes in my home city of Melbourne.
Sam and her single mother Kate live in the rear of the Conch Café, close to Sam’s best friend Melody and her dog, Billy. The building is owned by greedy witch Hecate Badminton who will do anything to own the café’s Good-Luck-Conch that she believes will give her immortality. After Hecate steals the shell and the café burns down, the girls have a series of remarkable adventures inside the wicked witch Hecate’s mainframe computer or in ‘eSide’ as they are pulled into a totalitarian digital world. Because computer graphics create unique scenarios, the girls must travel through new and dangerous worlds to overcome some of their worst fears before they can recover their conch and return home.
“Neptunia” combines a very modern predicament with a gentle introduction to “Homer’s ‘Odyssey”. Cassie Georgiana Odysseos has the potential to become a champion swimmer. However, her life is interrupted when her father leaves home, and Cassie’s mother sends Cassie and her little brother Timmy to stay with elderly Mike and Peg Calypso in Ithaca, a small country town without a swimming pool. Finding a small bronze box, the magic entry to Neptunia, Cassie is asked by Miss Iris Laertes, a previous Olympic swimming champion, to carry an important message to that city of water.
Lost in an unknown ocean, Cassie’s plasticine figures come to life when a wrathful Mer-King Neptune holds Cassie responsible for the damage humans are inflicting on his oceans. Athena, a telepathic turtle, informs Cassie that before she reaches Neptunia, the Mer-King will do everything in his power to exact his revenge and that she must undergo three dangerous trails before he will listen to her message. However, Cassie manages to use ‘strength, strategy and spirit’ to conquer the dangerous One-Eyed Octopus, the wily Enchantress, and the fearsome Boil and Bubble. Between adventures, the story pictures her life back home.
Both novels are aimed at upper primary readers. Teacher Notes are on my website. www.goldiealexander.com
“eSide: A Journey through Cyberspace”and “Neptunia” are both published by www.fivesenses.com.au
“eSide” for $16.95. “Neptunia” for $14.95