cover image The Great Interactive Dream Machine: 5

The Great Interactive Dream Machine: 5

Richard Peck. Dial Books, $14.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1989-7

When New York City prep-schooler Josh meddles with his best friend Aaron's computer project, a dinosaur presentation becomes a wish-granting program. The boys, first seen in Peck's Lost in Cyberspace, tap into the wishes of those around them: Josh's airhead sister wants to go to the Hamptons, a grumpy old spinster wants to go back in time, and the shih tzu downstairs just wants to go out. Josh and Aaron's wish, to be bigger and stronger than the class bully, yields wildly funny results. Individual episodes will provoke laughter and even thought, but a predictable plot involving a threatening cyber-spy fails to provide dramatic tension. Aaron's technical jargon sheds no light on the logic of the ""dream machine"" and his lengthy discourses may bore some readers: ""Josh,"" he says, ""the past, the present and the future are a multiple program running concurrently, with peripherals."" Although the sentimental conclusion carries little emotional weight, the story's fast pace and clever one-liners make it an enjoyable light read for science fiction fans. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)