The Black Box is on the 2011 Year’s Best list published by Resource Links, a Canadian periodical for teacher-librarians. The Black Box is the third of the Cassandra Virus books, science fiction for 9-13 year-olds set in the near future, but the story stands on its own even if you haven’t read The Cassandra Virus and The Drone War. The cover is by my manga-partner Connie Choi. (Do you think Uncle William looks a bit like Mick Aston from Time Team?)
Here’s the back cover copy:
Something is cutting off Spohrville’s communication with the outside world. The phones don’t work. There’s no radio, no TV — no internet. Are eco-terrorists trying to shut down the Mars Relay satellite? That’s what the government says, but Jordan and Helen and the sentient virtual supercomputer Cassandra don’t believe a word of it. The town is overrun with “birdwatchers” who can’t tell a hawk from a heron. Jordan’s old enemy, Harvey Number Two of the spy agency Bureau 6, is sneaking around pretending to be a cop on holiday. And archaeologist Uncle William has dug up a very strange black rock while excavating an Acadian settlement. With no land-lines to the site of the dig and wireless communication impossible, Jordan and Helen have no back-up from Cassandra. They’ve taken on corrupt government agents and industrial spies before, but they’ve always had Cassandra behind them. It’s the twenty-first century. The bad guys have night-vision goggles and interference triangulators. How did Jordan and Helen get stuck with a bunch of musket-toting War of 1812 historical re-enactors as their only allies?