George and the Ship of Time is the last and final of the adventure series of George books which I began over ten years ago in collaboration with my father Stephen Hawking. We wrote the first book, George’s Secret Key to the Universe after a boy at my son’s birthday party asked my father what would happen to him if he fell in a black hole! We thought it was such a great question that we went away and wrote an adventure novel about a boy who has to rescue someone who has fallen into a black hole. We wrote the book as a fantasy adventure novel – fast paced, exciting and with a proper evil bad guy in it – except that all the science in the book is correct so you learn as you go along! There’s even a recipe for how to make a black hole, written especially by my Dad.
We enjoyed writing the first book so much – and we got such an enthusiastic reception from our readers – that we wanted to carry on. We went on to write a whole series of George’s adventures, travelling with his best friend Annie and their super computer Cosmos who was so powerful and intelligent, it could open draw doorways onto any place in the known universe. Using Cosmos’ computerised portal, George and Annie explored the universe, landed on mystery planets, rescued someone from inside a black hole, chased aliens, defused a fiendishly clever explosive device at the Large Hadron Collider, discovered the secrets of quantum cryptography and dived for dolphin-shaped aliens in an underwater ocean on an icy Moon of Saturn.
At the end of George and the Blue Moon, the fifth book of the series, George departs into space, destination unknown, on the futuristically advanced spaceship, Artemis with only his robot friend Boltzmann Brian for company. George and the Ship of Time picks up this journey, with George and Boltzmann hurtling through space, occasionally tuning into frequencies which bring them increasingly scary and ominous news from Earth.
Their ship, Artemis, seems to have a mind of its own and a pre-set direction which they are unable to alter. Eventually, Artemis brings them to crash land on a deserted, dried up, dusty piece of barren land on a planet which they hope is Earth. Jumping out onto the scratchy surface, George discovers that the gravity is right for him and he can (just about) breathe the atmosphere, meaning this strange place has a good chance of being his home planet. But nothing else is familiar! Even kids seem to have changed almost beyond recognition, living their lives under robot supervision, going to virtual schools and living in a climate controlled ‘Bubble’ environment in the middle of the desert – with no adults in sight! Artificial Intelligence is highly advanced but human progress seems to have slipped backwards, in some places almost to the Middle Ages. It’s a very strange world and one that George keeps being told in the endless slogans and greetings is the ‘best of all possible worlds’ although he can see it is anything but.
As George with his trusty robot travels through this bizarre and unsettling world, he has many problems to solve and challenges to meet. What will happen if Trellis Dump, President of “Eden, best of all possible worlds” realises an outsider has managed to invade his country? Can George smuggle his new friend, Hero, a small child in desperate danger, out of Eden and to safety? Where is his old friend Cosmos the computer – and his former best mate Annie? And what happened to make the future turn out like this?
With essays on must-read subjects such as artificial intelligence, the future of food, climate change, warfare, politics and Einstein’s theory of time dilation, George and the Ship of Time combines the most thrilling adventure yet with cutting edge material, written especially for young readers, by world experts in their field. Taking some of the most famous statements made by Lucy Hawking’s famous father, Stephen, about how the world might develop into the future, George and the Ship of Time brings Stephen’s predictions to life and gives us a very clear illustration of why we should listen to what the great professor has to say…