One might think of Voyagers, Random House Books for Young Readers’ new multiplatform series for middle-grade readers, as this generation’s version of the beloved Star Trek TV series that their parents and grandparents grew up watching, dreaming of visiting “strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” But in the Voyagers novels, there aren’t any Klingons to be found: it’s kids who are boldly going forth and discovering strange new worlds—and readers can come along.
The publisher is producing Voyagers in partnership with 42 Entertainment, a media company that is creating an online experience to complement the six books, each written by a different author. The books will be published in rapid succession, beginning in September with Project Alpha, by D.J. MacHale, followed by Robin Wasserman’s Game of Flames in November and Omega Rising, by Patrick Carman, in January 2016. Subsequent Voyagers installments will be written by Kekla Magoon, Jeanne DuPrau, and Wendy Mass.
The gist of the series is that Earth will become toast without a renewable source of clean energy. There are six essential elements that, when properly combined, will create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy, and only a spaceship piloted by children can search for them. In Project Alpha, a team of four 12-year-olds is chosen and sent into space to retrieve the first element.
According to Carman, who is the brains behind the series (and, incidentally, grew up watching NASA missile launches and Star Trek), readers will not just have the opportunity to join the Voyagers crew online; they can oversee their own robot commander, thus allowing them to accompany the travelers into space, and complete missions and tasks in the form of games.
Carman anticipates that today’s kids will love Voyagers as much as his generation loved Star Trek, for several reasons. One, they won’t have to wait very long between books; once a reader enters the Voyagers world, they’ll remain in orbit for an entire year. In addition, Voyagers is driven entirely by young explorers, with no adults around.
“That’s a fun place to be as a young reader,” Carman says. “And there are robots! Aliens! And whole planets to explore.” For an early look at the Voyagers’ adventures, booksellers can pick up ARCs of Project Alpha at Table 1 in the Penguin Random House booth (3119) today, 1–2 p.m.