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Galaxy Games is a children's literature book series created by Greg R. Fishbone. The first of three books in the series, The Challengers, was published in 2011. The second, The Amorphous Assassin, was published in 2016. The third, The Mad Messenger, is scheduled for 2017.
|The Challengers, The Amorphous Assassin, The Mad Messenger|
|Author||Greg R. Fishbone|
|Cover artist||Ethen Beavers|
|Genre||Children's Literature, Speculative Fiction, Sports|
|Publisher||Lee & Low Books, Spellbound River Press|
|No. of books||Three|
|Website||Greg R. Fishbone's official author site|
The novel opens on the city of Platte Buff, Nevada, where Tyler Sato is celebrating his eleventh birthday. For his birthday, Tyler receives a star naming certificate from his cousin Daiki Shindo, who lives in Japan. Tyler takes the certificate to his father, an astronomer working in the Platte Bluff observatory. After looking for the star through the observatory's telescope, it's discovered that the coordinates on the certificate point not to a star, but to a mysterious celestial object hurtling towards the Earth. The object is labelled TY SATO by Tyler and his father, and uploaded into the international astronomy database so that astronomers worldwide can follow the movement of the object. When the media learns of the existence of a massive object headed towards earth, TY SATO is said all over the planet, the name of the doomsday asteroid that will destroy all life on the planet.
Instead of an asteroid, TY SATO turns out to be a spaceship sent on a diplomatic mission from the planet Mrendaria, in order to find a team to replace Mrendaria in the intergalactic Galaxy Games. Teams for the Galaxy Games are always composed of children, because the adults on some worlds don't play games, but the kids always do. The ship's captain, M'Frozza, formerly captain of the Mrendarian Galaxy Games team, chooses Tyler Sato as the new captain of Mrendaria's Galaxy Games team due to his international renown as the namesake of TY SATO. It's Tyler's duty to put together a team composed of the best child athletes from Earth to compete in the Galaxy Games, to save Mrendaria from humiliation, and to earn Earth a spot in intergalactic civilization.
The plot is conveyed from the dual viewpoints of Tyler, in Nevada, and Daiki, in Japan. Excerpts of M'Frozza's trip to planet Earth are interspersed between.
The Amorphous Assassin
- Tyler Sato - The main character of the book. His favorite activity is to play basketball with his best friend, Eric Parker.
- Amanda Sato - Tyler's older sister, she enjoys pranking her brother and dislikes all the attention he gets as a Galaxy Games contestant.
- Dr. Sato - Tyler's father. Works in an observatory run by the Platte Bluff Institute of Science, where Dr. Sato has tenure as a professor of astronomy and astrophysics.
- Mrs. Sato - Tyler's mother. Protective of her kids, and remiss to accept that Tyler is growing older.
- Uncle Kazu & Aunt Megumi - Daiki and Riku's parents. Aunt Megumi is Mr. Sato's sister.
- Daiki Shindo - Tyler's cousin. Tyler wonders if he would be more like Daiki or more like himself had he been born in Japan. Daiki is very good at a fictional arcade game called Robo-Maze.
- Riku Shindo - Daiki's older brother and Jun Takeda's trainer. Riku gives Daiki a lot of guff for his friendship with Tomoko Tomizawa.
- Jun Takeda - Champion of Tekno-Fight Xtreme at the Pack-Punch Video Arcade.
- Tomoko Tomizawa - National title-holder and judo champion. Becomes best friends with Daiki Shindo and competes on the Galaxy Games team for Earth.
- M'Frozza - Offbeat, squid-like alien, and former Galaxy Games team captain for planet Mrendaria. Chooses Tyler Sato to lead the Earth team which replaces the Mrendarian team.
- Luiz Rafael Vila Lobos - Soccer player from Sao Paulo, Brazil, nicknamed Weez. Convinced that aliens abducted his younger brother. Second-rank for the Earth Galaxy Games team.
- Ling-Wa Bei - Acrobat from Guangzhou, China, who sometimes gets bossed around by her teammates. Third-rank for the Earth Galaxy Games team.
- Felix Hoffman - Gargantuan soccer player from Germany, stalwart and protective of his teammates. Fourth-rank for the Earth Galaxy games team.
- El Gatito Grande - Zany and energetic luchador from Mexico City, Mexico. Fifth-rank for the Earth Galaxy Games team.
As a novel for middle grade readers, much of the conflict in Galaxy Games: The Challengers is internal struggle. Tyler is concerned with his ability to be a Galaxy Games team leader, and has difficulty accepting the global perception of him as a hero. He feels outclassed by every other member of the earth team yet is determined not to betray his inability for fear of being exposed as a phony. Meanwhile, Tyler must work to maintain the friendship of his classmates back home, who are both envious of his new status, and upset from feeling ignored.
One of the main themes of The Challengers is cultural diversity. The earth team chosen to compete in the Galaxy Games is composed of athletes from all over the world. Tyler is able to communicate with all the members of his team, no matter what language they speak, because of the regulation translator implanted in the skulls of all Galaxy Games participants. In addition, much of the novel takes place in Daiki's neighborhood of Tokyo, Japan. Daiki's neighborhood is based on Takadanobaba, where Fishbone lived. These parts of the novel describe many characteristics of the culture of Japan and the differences between Japan and America. An author's note in the appendices contains a glossary of Japanese (and Mrendarian) terms used, a table of Japanese honorifics, and notes on kanji.
Galaxy Games: The Challengers is a sports novel and thus deals with issues related to perseverance, overcoming obstacles (especially through the use of wit), and conflict resolution. Ultimately, to determine the fate of the planet Earth, it's up to Tyler to dig deep within himself, identify what he truly excels at, and imagine that he's back in his friend's driveway, playing a game of pick-up basketball.
The idea for Galaxy Games: The Challengers grew from Fishbone's idea for a middle grade book that would merge space and sports, something he would've loved to read when he was growing up. The series draws influence from Japanese manga and from science fiction stories such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Thieves' World books, and Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
The regions of Tokyo portrayed in Daiki's portions of the novel were inspired by Fishbone's own time spent in Tokyo, where he studied law and developed a large manga collection. The influence that manga has on The Challengers can be seen in the humor of the novel and in Beaver's illustrations throughout.
Allusions to other works
One of Fishbone's other works, The Penguins of Doom, is referenced by M'Frozza while she is digesting Earth culture in order to learn about humans on her way to the planet.
Tekno-Fight Xtreme, the arcade game which Tomoko and Jun Takeda play, is inspired by a Super Famicom game called Ranma 1/2.
Hunter-Elf Zeita, the television show of which Daiki and Tomoko are fans, is based on a group of short stories written by Fishbone while living in Japan.
Galaxy Games: The Challengers was a finalist for the 2012 Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Graders, one of three annual awards presented by the Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature.
A review by Publishers Weekly called The Challengers "ripe with kid-friendly humor", and said the book "fulfills every alien-obsessed kid's dream".
- Comtois, Pierre (11 March 2016). "'Sometimes it's serious, sometimes it's silly, and sometimes there are aliens'". Nashoba Valley Voice. Digital First Media. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Galaxy Games - Lee & Low".
- Fishbone, Greg (2016). The Amorphous Assassin. Spellbound River Press. ISBN 9781945017117. Search this book on
- Interviews - Galaxy Games - Lee & Low
- Golden Duck Awards Archived 2015-03-02 at the Wayback Machine
- Publishers Weekly Review: The Challengers by Greg R. Fishbone
- Galaxy Games series website
- Greg R. Fishbone's official author site
- Galaxy Games: The Challengers on Greg R. Fishbone's official author site
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