Fame, Fortune, and Free healthcare?– Sign me up! … Or not
By Claire Culton, STEM Read Intern
In the science-fiction thriller Nyxia by Scott Reintgen, seventeen-year-old Emmett Atwater has a shot at the deal of a lifetime. Growing up in the slums of Detroit with a sick mother and poor father, Emmett always wanted to do more for his family. So, when Babel, a powerful mining company, gives him the opportunity to make more money than he’s ever seen and earn free healthcare for his family, it’s nothing short of a miracle. All Emmett has to do to earn his fame, fortune, and free healthcare is travel to Eden, a mysterious planet a whole year-long flight away. Once there, Emmett and his fellow recruits will have to mine the planet for nyxia, a volatile and dangerous resource.
However, Emmett soon learns that the journey to Eden is no ordinary space flight. While traveling, Emmett must compete in mind-bending tests against other Babel recruits. The two recruits with the lowest competition scores will be immediately sent back to Earth with no money, no healthcare, and no mark on intergalactic history. Emmett is determined to make his family proud, but he risks losing himself in the physically and mentally rigorous challenges.
Will Emmett set aside his identity for fortune and fame? Are the fellow kids and the company they work for trustworthy? Will he go down in history as a hero, or as something much more sinister? All of this and more unfolds rapidly in Reintgen’s exciting page-turner.
Nyxia covers a variety of STEAM concepts through Emmett’s trip to Eden and his experience mining nyxia. For a classroom activity, have students research both renewable and nonrenewable resources that we find valuable on Earth. Then, have them explore what kind of impact is created when these materials are retrieved. For example, copper extraction can be highly toxic for the environment, yet it’s still so valuable that copper is oftentimes stolen from homes and construction sights.
Nyxia also explores the physiological damage recruits endure when constantly surrounded by simulations and augmented realities. All of the challenges Emmett and his fellow recruits face are artificially simulated, making them feel separated from the real world and disassociated from the violence. Your students can research the mental effects that AR and VR have on developing brains and how advancements in the field have both helped and hindered everyday users.
Aside from environmental and technological topics, Nyxia also lends itself to a wide range of social-emotional and ethics discussions based around Emmett’s internal and external conflicts. Reintgen’s Nyxia is the first is a “triad” of books. You can pick up the second book, Nyxia Unleashed wherever books are sold.