The Venus Trap
Friendly Aliens are coming with a Gate to the Stars beyond. Thia is a ten year old girl caught up in the historical meeting of alien cultures and Earthlings with the one thing that unites them - football! Passions ignite as the global game goes galactic! More
The Venus Trap by Paul Byatt
Cover Illustration by Zahara Dawoodbhoy
The story is set in the very near future and immediately after the discovery of aliens on their way to Earth from a waypoint within Jupiter. The aliens represent The Hegemony – a galactic group of planets that have been contacting new species for hundreds of years through their advanced technology.
The story of their arrival on Earth is seen through the eyes of Thia, a ten year old girl, whose mother works for the UN. The Aliens, headed by humanoid beings with seemingly benign intentions, have requested two sites on Earth, near the Equator, to land and use as bases for further integration. One of the sites is on Sri Lanka, where the aliens have asked for a school to be built to accommodate Earth children and a mixture of alien children, offspring of the ambassadors, politicians and academics from the Hegemony. It is this school that Thia is enrolled into.
Thia and her mother have already been affected by discovery of the aliens; Thia’s father was a diplomat at the UN and was working there during the first live conference with the aliens who were en-route to Earth turned violent. Thousands died, including Thia’s father, horrifying all parties involved but building resolve to make the encounter work.
Whilst at the newly built base camp in Sri Lanka, Thia makes new friends from her class but, more importantly, finds that others share her wild enthusiasm for football- her strongest link to her father. One of those who share her passion is her new teacher, Mr James.
To their surprise, the alien children have more passion for football than ordinary learning. This goes down well with everybody at school, including the enthusiastic PE teacher who immediately sets about coaching the aliens and humans together.
Meanwhile, the two alien craft that brought the visitors to Earth are revealed as Artificial Intelligences with vast powers, including the ability to manipulate forces such as gravity to defend themselves or their charges. The third AI is in charge of The Gate, a huge structure that will stay around Mars and be the gateway conduit to the Hegemony – a worm-hole in all but name.
As the weeks progress smoothly on Earth, a series of small incidents occur within the Solar System to concern the three AI’s sufficiently and reveal that not all within the Hegemony is necessarily stable.
Back on Earth, Thia’s mother begins a very cautious relationship with the head of security at the base, much to Thia’s amusement. Her teacher begins a relationship with the Chef and Thia’s relationship with one of the aliens, Chelima, blossoms into true friendship.
Their PE teacher arranges a football match for the girls and the boys’ teams against an International School based in Colombo, hoping to keep it quiet. This proves impossible, with huge interest around the globe and from the visiting aliens, most of whom share this enthusiasm for the game that dominates the Earth.
During the first of the two games, the suspicions of the AI’s are realised when both bases are attacked simultaneously from the ground and from Space. The internal politics of the Hegemony are being played out on Earth with the intention of wrecking the initial contact between aliens and humans.
The story has been written with 10-12 year olds in mind and should be accessible to anyone who isn’t necessarily a football or science fiction enthusiast. The story is set around the theme of a shared enthusiasm for something that already unites the planet i.e. football and that has seemingly united the new visitors to the Earth.
Friendship, loss, wonder and ideas for the future are also explored throughout. The epilogue makes it clear that there will be a sequel as Thia and some of the people around her find themselves on their own journey.
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