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I remember reading this book when I was a kid. I think it was book 2, so a lot didn't make sense to me at the time. I suddenly remembered it recently and really wanted to know what it was.

  • The first scene is the main characters teleporting onto a planet full of a spider aliens who try to make them fall asleep by feeding them so the spider aliens can eat them. The main characters then try teleporting away, but the spider aliens somehow made it so they teleport back to the planet with their memory wiped so they thought it was the first time they arrived there. The only reason they were able to escape was because they had an irritable AI with them that didn't get memory wiped.

  • They also 2 shapeshifting aliens with them, one stuck in a dog form and the other stuck in a cat form because of some event in book 1. The main characters eventually reach another planet with shapeshifters, and the shapeshifters with the main characters suddenly gain their powers back and help the main characters fight back. I remember them shifting into a two tailed weasel, to fight. Then the opposing shapeshifters turned into flying turtles that flew really high and then fell down to crush them, so the cat turned into a giant tree. Then they transformed into insects that could accelerate fast enough to punch through anything the cat could turn into. The cat turned back into a cat and told them that they were going to die. As the insects came flying towards them, on of the humans who was possessed in book 1 by an evil alien suddenly transformed into a gelatinous ball and stopped the insects, and the other humans were worried because that signified that he was still under mind control or something.

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    The "ship" on the cover was a surface suip, right? If it was a submarine or an airship you would have said so. Did it have smokestacks or sails or propellers or oars?
    – user14111
    Nov 7, 2022 at 5:22
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    It looks like your book has been found, but for future questions, please keep in mind that we don't know when you were a kid. Including a year (even an approximate year) helps a great deal.
    – SQB
    Nov 7, 2022 at 10:08

1 Answer 1

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This sounds like book number three of the "Outernet" series, by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore. As with yourself, it happens that I have only read this one volume of the youth-oriented comedy series. Below is the Wikipedia synopsis for "Outernet Odyssey", and an image of the cover.

Following Janus's instructions, Jack, Merle, Loaf, Bitz, and Googie attempt to teleport to Helios. However, they are intercepted and detained on a planet populated by spiders. Each time they attempt to leave, they are returned to their original location and time, with no memory of their original arrival. Eventually the Help program is able to break the vicious circle. This leads them to Googie's home planet, Kippo VI. She is arrested as a traitor, but the humans find themselves able to shapeshift due to parasitic natives of the planet that endow all residents or visitors with the ability. They fight off FOE attacks, helped by Loaf, who is being controlled by a chip that Tracer implanted in him.

Unable to teleport to Helios, they look for affordable spaceship transportation and find it in the form of hippie Zodiac Hobo and his anonymous ship, which complains about its status as such until Merle names it Trigger. They arrive safely and are accosted by the Collectors of Helios, a parody of Earth monks. They are led to the Sightless One, who promises to input the Weaver's coordinates if he is given the Server. He is revealed as Tracer, however. It's not long before the Friends find the true Tiresias, a monstrous life-form bound to a computer that collects knowledge but can do nothing with it. After meeting Janus in N-space (he removes Loaf from Tracer's control), they serve as eyes for Tiresias, letting him see the universe before dying in peace.

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