You ever open your locker and find that some joker has left something really weird inside?
Seventh-grader Dorso Clayman opens his locker door to find a dead body.
Thirty seconds later it disappears.
It's not the first bizarre thing that has appeared in his locker and then vanished.
Something's going on.
Somebody has decided to make Dorso and his buddy Frank the target of some strange techno-practical jokes. The ultimate gamesters have hacked into the time line, and things from the past are appearing in the present. Soon, the jokes aren't funny anymore--they're dangerous. Dorso and Frank have got to beat the time hackers at their own game by breaking the code, before they get lost in the past themselves.
Paulsen's futuristic novel starts with a bang, as Dorso Clayman discovers a medical cadaver in his school locker ("It was an old cadaver. Runny"). Readers quickly learn that the discovery of a "hologram projector chip" has led to "time projection": anyone with a laptop could now "pull images from the past and project them anywhere." Yet this technology is supposedly governed by the "paradox of time"; individuals can view the past but cannot physically be transported back in time so as to be able to alter history. Dorso is puzzled by a string of computer-generated pranks (in addition to the cadaver, he's been visited by holograms of dead frogs, lab rats and rotting earthworms). But the 12-year-old is mystified when he finds himself face-to-face with Custer, Beethoven and then a woolly mammoth-which was most definitely not a hologram. He and his friend Frank suspect that someone has found a way around the time paradox and that Dorso's laptop is connected to the perpetrator's scheme. As they're transported to various episodes in history (including the Battle of Gettysburg and the Crusades), the duo learns that time hackers are playing a game that might destroy the universe. Readers will be sucked into Paulsen's clever plotting, despite some silly, repetitive bits involving Dorso's younger sister's dress-up games with their cat, and Frank's obsession with conjuring up a naked Helen of Troy. This inventively twisted cyberspace caper may well lure kids more accustomed to surfing the Web than turning pages. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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August 20, 2006
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Excerpt from The Time Hackers by Gary Paulsen
He should have known better and opened his locker more slowly. Some sense should have warned him. There were enough strange things going on; he should be more cautious. But no. No, he had to come bombing down the hallway and work the last number on the combo on the door and jerk it open without thinking. There was an adult male hanging inside. Dead. Not only that, but it was a medical cadaver, partially cut open with long pins holding things in. And not only that, but it was an old cadaver. Runny. And the stink--Oh, my, he thought, only in different words. Much different words. Oh, my, the stink was positively alive, rolled out in a semigreen cloud, and he could hear flies coming inside from out in the schoolyard, zooming to the odor. Oh, yes, there would be flies. Of course flies. And they would stay around. Last time when he found seven hundred and twenty-one and one-half dead lab rats in his locker, packed in tightly, the flies had stayed for a month even when the rats were gone. It was a joke. Some joke. Dorso Clayman held his breath and closed the locker door, looked up and down the hallway to see if anybody was watching. Nobody seemed to be paying special attention but that didn't mean much. Someone might have a small camera on him, getting his reaction on a digit-disk to broadcast later. He decided to play it nonchalant. Cool. As if he always had bodies in his locker. And it would have worked except that Susan Racher walked down the hall at that moment, right past his locker, and the smell drifting, no, slithering out of the bottom grill on the locker door dropped her cold. Literally. She went down on her knees, grabbing for her inhaler. Susan was one of those who always acted sick but never actually was. But then she keeled over onto her side, one leg jerking feebly. For a second Dorso did nothing. Susan was always faking it. But this time it seemed real enough--her eyes had rolled back and were showing only white. So he grabbed her by the wrists and dragged her down the hallway past the smell zone. He propped her up against the wall and put her inhaler in her mouth. "She dead?" Dorso looked up to see his best friend, Frank Tate, looking down at Susan. "She's going to miss her first class if she's dead," Frank said. "They don't like it if you miss homeroom even if you're dead." Dorso shook his head. "No. She's just out for a little bit. The smell caught her wrong." "What smell?" Frank sniffed. "Is there something stinking?" "You're kidding . . . ," Dorso started, then remembered that Frank had a sinus condition that kept him from smelling things. Frank had once run his bicycle over a dead skunk on the highway without noticing it, even though part of the skunk had stuck to a tire and kept flopping around and around as he rode, the stink blowing up in his face with each rotation. Bulletproof, Dorso thought, a bulletproof nose. "I had a body in my locker." "Again? Man, don't they ever think of anything else to do to you? Last time they put a dead dog in there, and then there were the lab rats, and of course the time they stuck in the six or seven thousand dead frogs . . ." "This time it was human. Some medical student's job, it must have been. But old. Really old." Frank nodded. "Yeah. It would have to be old. That's how it works, isn't it? You can't transport anything current and the system won't go into the future, so it has to come from the past." As he talked he went to Dorso's locker and grabbed the handle. "How did it look?" He jerked the door open. "Don't--" Dorso started, but then he shrugged. It had been more than thirty seconds, and none of the . . . surprises . . . ever seemed to last longer than half a minute. "It's gone," Frank said. "Too bad.