Some time in the future, when nano technology means you can assemble pretty much anything you want in matter compilers, and there aren’t really separate nations any more, so much as various tribes, determined by allegiance rather than race, there lives a little girl called Nell. Her mother is a servant, her father was a low-life thug who died when she was still a baby. Nell grows up in a slum area of futuristic Shanghai, with only a few stuffed toys and her older brother Harv for comfort as they try to ignore the poor treatment from the ever changing selection of dead beat boyfriends their mother drags home.
One day Harv brings Nell a present – an electronic device shaped like a book. The Young Ladies’ Illustrated Primer isn’t just any book, but a piece of near unique technology created for the granddaughter of one of the world’s most powerful men. The engineer who devised it made an illegal copy for his own daughter, wanting only the brightest and most promising future for her. However, on the way home from his illicit mission of copying the Primer, he’s mugged, and as none of the other little hoodlums want what they think looks like junk, Harv gives it to his sister. As Nell discovers, the book addresses itself to her directly, and starts relating exciting stories about Princess Nell and her four special friends, named exactly the same as her beloved toys. More on my blog.