I'm desperate to find out the title of this novel because it was the first time I experienced images in my mind inspired by the written word. It sparked a life long love of Sci Fi. I think it's a YA/childrens book. I seem to remember medium sized text with a few illustrations here and there. I think it had a red cover. Definitely published before 1985.

The story is told from a boy's point of view. He's possibly 12 or 13 years old. He and the other children in the book learn everything or are educated through electronic helmets connected to a computer/mainframe. I'm not sure if it happens while they sleep or not. I can't remember any adults in the book. I do remember there being green fields and rolling hills with a single craft or space vehicle hovering low over them.

That's about it, I'm afraid. It so long ago now, the memories are sparse but vivid. It's the book that first stimulated my imagination so I really want to find it. Any help would be hugely appreciated.

  • I edited your title so that it's more descriptive
    – Andres F.
    Nov 28, 2013 at 1:54
  • Auto-education of that kind has been done lots of times, I'm afraid. Cities in Flight by James Blish, for example. I think you'll need more details to have any hope of finding it. Nov 28, 2013 at 19:09

3 Answers 3


Monica Hughes' 'Devil on my Back' (1984) features a society where learning is downloaded from a computer, and a young teenage boy is hero. The resemblance ends there, but the original 1980s cover - lush green landscape, dome (not spaceship) in distance, title in big red letters - has some similarity to your visual memories. Original cover


Education or learning by machines that implant knowledge directly into the brain goes back at least as far as E.E. Smith's The Skylark of Space (1928).

George O. Smith's The Fourth "R" or The Brain Machine (1959) has a five year old boy given a college level education, as well as plans for the "brain machine", by his parents who invented it, shortly before they are murdered by their friend who wants to market the "brain machine" as his own invention. Thus the boy has to survive on his own until he can reveal the truth.

In James Blish's A Life for the Stars (1962, 1963) rural Pennsylvania teenager Chrispin DeFord gets shanghaied when the city of Scranton leaves Earth for the stars. He is later traded to the city of New York, also traveling through the stars, where children are taught by machines that transfer knowledge into their brains. the original hardback cover is black and light green with three persons flying through space in spacesuits.

Both of those novels have at least part of what The OP remembered.

  • 4
    Another day, another new disposable account, I see. You do realise that some poor shmuck has to spend their time finding all of these and merging them at some point?
    – Valorum
    May 29, 2016 at 21:46
  • 2
    @armadillo - A quick google suggests that this user has proliferated dozens, if not hundreds of accounts. A few days ago, a mod had to hunt and destroy about 20 different accounts, all disposables; meta.movies.stackexchange.com/questions/2273/…
    – Valorum
    May 29, 2016 at 22:23
  • @armadillo I've seen this name on 2 new accounts in the few couple days. It just seems lazy at best, and rude or shady at worst. Maybe it doesn't matter rule-wise if someone opens a dozen accounts under the same name. Still, it doesn't endear them to me. It may be irrational, but my knee-jerk response is to not like anything they post. (Unprofessional, I know.) EDIT: Was writing this before I saw the post above about dozens or more. May 29, 2016 at 22:27

Ready Player One. The hills and spaceship are a reoccurring scene in the book. School happens in virtual reality with helmets. Also a great big world. MMO and other virtual reality where business takes place. There are adults and the story follows a boy from youth to adulthood.

  • Can you add a link or quote from a synopsis or otherwise cite a reference that gives more info? The year and author would also be good things to add in an answer like this. Jan 30, 2014 at 1:14
  • 1
    Sounds unlikely to have been published before 1985.
    – so12311
    Jan 30, 2014 at 1:57
  • This book came out quite recently, so it can't be the answer. Mar 25, 2014 at 2:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.