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I remember reading a story that included a group of children traveling on a spaceship that cared for them. The ship was made of regular and fake matter and could adapt to different situations. The children gave their leader the title of “Pan”. They were sent to fight an alien threat. The ship, although very advanced, could not make the important decisions, and the children were there to decide.

Decades have passed since I read that story and would like to read it again, but I don’t recall the name or author. Help would be appreciated.

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There is a slim chance that this could be Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear. It was published in 1993, not sure if that qualifies as the decades since you read it but its a decent passage of time.

More pertinently it features survivors from earth, on an alien spaceship that does indeed care for them and can remodel itself to adapt to situations. The passengers on this ship base their developing culture on Peter Pan and refer to themselves as Wendys and Lost Boys.

Note that this is not an exact match for your description which is why I say slim chance... You specifically mention children but as I recall this story featured adults who were referencing Peter Pan. You can read more details here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anvil_of_Stars

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    Not sure why you say it's not an exact match, this is what I immediately thought of when I saw the question: it has the adaptable ship, children on board to make the decisions, leader called Pan, fighting alien threat (of self-replicating machines). – Daniel Roseman Jul 16 '18 at 8:39
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    No, you are right. This is Anvil of Stars, sequel to The Forge of God. These are not adults (well, they are late teens). The ship being partly made of fake matter and the title of Pan in my opinion are proof enough. – LSerni Jul 16 '18 at 20:14
  • You got it! Thank you for your help. I immediately searched for it among boxes of old books I still have and found it, a 1993 paperback. I also have the 1988 prequel The Forge of God. 🙏 – JASW Jul 16 '18 at 23:39
  • Glad to be of service. I hadn't read since about then so wasn't trusting my memory so much! – dominic fonde Jul 17 '18 at 0:50

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