Scarlett Thomas

Language: English

Pages: 512

ISBN: 015603137X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

PopCo tells the story of Alice Butler-a subversively smart girl in our commercial-soaked world who grows from recluse orphan to burgeoning vigilante, buttressed by mystery, codes, math, and the sense her grandparents gave her that she could change the world.

Alice-slight introvert, crossword compositor- works at PopCo, a globally successful and slightly sinister toy company. Lured by their CEO to a Thought Camp out on the moors, PopCo's creatives must invent the ultimate product for teenage girls. Meanwhile, Alice receives bizarre, encrypted messages she suspects relate to her grandfather's decoding of a centuries-old manuscript that many-including her long-disappeared father-believe leads to buried treasure. Its key, she's sure, is engraved on the necklace she's been wearing since she was ten. Using the skills she learned from her grandparents and teaching us aspects of cryptanalysis, Alice discovers the source of these creepy codes. Will this lead her to the mysterious treasure or another, even more carefully guarded secret?

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have one now, I only really use it to watch videos or play videogames. I assume that what is playing is some sort of TV theme tune, in that case. I look over to the DJ booth and the source of the music becomes clear. I nudge Dan, but he's already watching. "Christ," he says. "It's Georges. I might have known." Georges Celéri is the Creative Director of PopCo. He is like the company whirlwind, or perhaps our poltergeist. He's the PopCo prankster, the guy who really loves toys rather than

the horizon. At first I didn't know what it was. Then I realised that this was the last part of sky that hadn't yet been taken by the already impressive sunset: a baby blue sliver of day, which I could only just glimpse through the trees. At one point, when there were no trees, I saw it span the whole horizon; the day dying before my eyes, with blood everywhere. Then a hedge obscured it and the whole, tantalising scene was just gone. Higher ground. I had to get to higher ground. Instead of

"Me, too," says Ben, giving me a big smile. "Is Grace in NoCo, too?" I say, a lovely warm feeling, like the opposite of an ache, spreading inside me. They want to have a NoCo meeting today, and they want me to be there. For the first time in my life I feel part of something—almost a gang—and I know I can be myself inside it. I know that if my grandparents were alive they would recognise the person I am now, the person I can be with these people. "Oh, yes," says Chloë. "She's great. It's very

arc-welding. This feels like being in a post-apocalyptic Japanese videogame, travelling through a city ravaged by anarchy and war with a big sword and, possibly, some magic spells. I can't read with all this going on, so I get under the covers and lie there listening and watching until I eventually fall asleep. Just before four in the morning, there is a soft tap at my door. Through my sleep I can hear an unfamiliar voice saying something like Hello? Wake up call. It feels like I only dropped

inn, he set down some of his political thoughts in the form of a pamphlet which, like the letters he used to write to Molly, he never actually showed anyone. However, this pamphlet, entitled "Liberty For All Men," was a profound document that would eventually be picked up by a group aligned to the parliamentarians some years later during the Civil War. The physician Stevenson paid to tend him during this period was thought of locally as a "witch doctor." Known as John Christian, and having been

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