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Literature / Feliks, Net & Nika

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From left to right: Net, Felix and Nika. In Net's suitcase, Manfred.

Felix, Net & Nika is a series of Young Adult books by Polish writer Rafał Kosik, mixing fantasy and science fiction with heavy doses of Polish school.

It's the beginning of a new school year and, for Felix Polon, also his first day at a new school - the first class of Gymnasium. Looking for his class, he meets a gang of bullies and is robbed for his lunch money. Just after that meeting, he stumbles upon Net and Nika, two classmates, who were robbed the same way. Together, they decide to solve the problem.

Oh, should I mention that Net has a pet AI program called Manfred and is a Playful Hacker? Or that Felix is a Gadgeteer Genius and his father works on top secret government projects? That Nika is hiding that she's an orphan and has Psychic Powers? That the school is haunted? That the gang of so-called Invisible People starts raiding banks and the trio just must find out who are they? Or maybe that magic, advanced cybernetics and time travel are all very real?

The first book was published in 2004 and the series is still ongoing. It is extremely popular in Poland and has won a few national literature prizes. The second book, "Felix, Net and Nika and the Theoretically Possible Catastrophe", was made into a movie, but it did not do well and no others are currently planned.

Series contains examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Warsaw's sewer system seems surprisingly spacious in The Trap of Immortality.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Morten.
    • However, there might be something behind him turning evil... Konpopoz is a better example.
  • Alpha Bitch: Aurelia, especially towards Nika.
  • Alternate Universe: In both parts of The World Zero, the trio visits some worlds more and more different from ours, from one where Soviet collapse didn't happen to the world where dinosaurs never died, and everything in between.
    • Alternate History Wank: in the Cliffhanger to the first part of Alternauci, the heroes read about "the Polish-Chinese border." Ultimately deconstructed, since the Polish empire that covers everything between France and China is only slightly less friendly than the Soviet Union (though the heroes visit worse worlds). The main universe of the books can actually qualify as well - Poland sends robots to Mars, experiments with jump gates and hires Men in Black.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The symbol of the three gears appears in Morten's lair, in the Nazi secret bunker and in the 18th century's catacombs...
  • Antagonist Title: Third Cousin.
  • Artificial Intelligence: All over the place. There are apparently dozens of incredibly humanlike AIs that work in data analysis or management, it's just that they are not seen by the general public. Special mention goes to Manfred and Morten.
  • Bad Future: Weather control is a crapshoot.
  • Beneath the Earth: the Underwarsaw in The Trap of Immortality.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Manfred.
  • Big Eater: Celina.
  • Breather Episode: After the serious The Castle of Dreams and The Trap of Immortality, and before the grim The Third Cousin and The Rise of Machines, The Orbital Conspiracy was surprisingly light.
  • Building of Adventure: The Institute. The gymnasium the trio goes to counts too, although it's no Academy of Adventure. The motel they stay at in The Third Cousin also counts, although this is more scary than awesome.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Professor Butler and most of the Institute's staff. The Institute even has Bunny Ears Robots!
  • Captain Oblivious: Headmaster Stokrotka and his assistant. They're completely unaware of most things that happen at the school, especially the weirder stuff.
  • Character Blog: Manfred used to blog occasionally.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: All the titles follow this rule ("Felix, Net & Nika and the ______"), even the short stories.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Stefan Kuszmiński, the man after whom the trio's gymnasium is named.
  • Cool Old Lady: Felix' grandma, Mrs Lusia. She's an amazing cook, always willing to help the trio and hides an amazing fortune. Sadly, she dies in The Trap of Immortality.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Subverted in most of the books, as they make clear just how much trouble Nika must go through to avoid being sent to an orphanage. However, played straight in The World Zero, when it turns out that in almost every world they visit, Nika still lives alone, so they have a safe hiding spot.
  • Creepy Basement: There's one under the residual Orphanage of Fear. A golem hides there, among... other things.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Net. Also Konpopoz, to such an extent that people get suspicious when he isn't sarcastic.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Cyryl Borkowski, the P.E. teacher may qualify, since he used to work in the military and rarely notes that he no longer does.
  • Evil Teacher: Some of the teachers in the heroes' school are just stupid, like the incompetent IT teacher, or the Hippie Teacher of arts, but the geography teacher takes the cake, forcing the students to learn the areas, leaders and borders of all the states. The PE teacher is borderline Sadist - he changes a school trip into an extreme survival camp in the very last minute.
  • Everybody Did It: In The Third Cousin, the majority of the trip are Kid Sleuth s quite like our heroes, with access to unusual technologies and/or psychic powers, but using them to steal. For a change it's the protagonists who are Locked Out of the Loop, and just want to rest.
  • First-Episode Twist: Nika is an orphan and has psychic powers.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The Third Cousin not only focuses solely on magic (other books have more science or mix science with paranormal) but is also the only book in the series that can be described as horror.
  • From Bad to Worse: Both The Theoretically Possible Catastrophe and the two parts of The World Zero are based on this trope.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Felix and his dad, full stop. The Polons' entire house is full of various gadgets and machines in different states of usability.
  • Generation Xerox: Net and Felix. Net's dad is a Playful Hacker, like his son, and Felix' dad is also a hobbyist Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Nika might be this with some delay - her great-great... grandmother was one of the last witches in Poland.
  • Ghostly Chill: Temperatures drop in the presence of ghosts. This is used by the trio to hunt them at school.
  • Girl Posse: Aurelia has one, consisting of Beta Bitch Klaudia and her Fat Best Friend Celina. After some time, however, Celina breaks away and Aurelia is stuck with Klaudia.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: Ilona Bogucka pretends to love this, while in reality she's in for the money.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Golem's first awakening was... adventurous, to say the least.
  • Grim Reaper: The villain from The Trap of Immortality appears as this. He's actually the ghost of a long-dead inventor.
  • Intangibility: Ghosts' property.
  • Haunted House: The gymnasium, up to the end of the first book.
  • Hell Hotel: The Three Cousins' motel. It's absolutely creepy and run by the even creepier two cousins.
  • Hidden Depths: Juliusz Stokrotka, the principal, is a jovial, incompetent, self-centered Small Name, Big Ego... who, upon realizing that his IT teacher is useless, becomes a good enough sysadmin to stop Net.
  • Inn of No Return: For some girls, the Three Cousins' is this.
  • Its A Small World Afterall: That's quite a coincidence that both Net's and Felix's fathers work in the same place when boys met each other for the first time at school.
  • Legacy Character: The headmistress of the Orphanage of Fear is always named Eleonora Chrubieszczak. The most promising student takes her place and name. The current Alpha Bitch is a biological daughter of the current headmistress - unaware, so that she receives the same treatment as other orphans.
  • Lighthouse Point: Rozewie Lighthouse, where the climax of The Theoretically Possible Catastrophe takes place.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Butler, Biology teacher. Gilbert's father, dr Kurtacz. Also some workers of the Institute count. But the late Professor Kuszminski takes the cake.
  • Magic Is Feminine: Nika is the only one with telekinesis around.
  • Man Behind the Man: Morten in The Castle of Dreams and both parts of The Orbital Conspiracy.
  • Merlin Sickness: The Great Anticipator lives backwards. Unlike the Trope Namer, this is painful - he remembers being born when he fell under a train, had to learn to walk forwards and to discern human speech sounding backwards. When he reads, he loses information, and he knows he's going to die in 1960.
  • The Men in Black: Agent Mamrot (Eng: "Murmur"), tied to the Polish government. He's so badass that he exists in every parallel universe where there is a Polish government. He's also badass enough to be the first adult POV character in the series.
  • Middle-of-Nowhere Street: There's one in The Castle of Dreams that comes and goes as it wishes, including appearing and disappearing from every record and map it should be in... including videos and tape recordings.
  • Mind Screw: There are parts that induce that feeling, especially in The Trap of Immortality. It... takes some time to get it.
  • Noodle Implements: Short descriptions of Felix's basement have this vibe. Among others, there are high-jump shoes, a cyberfly, a forever-pen, a matchstick de-lighter, a torchdark (opposite of torchlight) and many others.
    • As a meta example, backsides of covers of every book look like this, with short paragraphs of text mixed with various Checkhov's Guns and Noodle Implements.
  • No Export for You: Some books were translated into Lithuanian, Hungarian, and Czech, but none into English.
  • Non-Human Lover Reveal: Regina is actually a ghost.
  • Not Me This Time: It was actually Konpopoz, not Morten who wreaked havoc in The Rise of Machines.
  • Official Couple: Net and Nika after The Orbital Conspiracy. Felix and Laura later on.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The trio's class goes to one in The Trap of Immortality. All children have only names and - maybe - numbers, the building is dark and unfriendly, and the headmistress is terribly strict...
    • Until kids manage to put the headmistress and the local Alpha Bitch to sleep. Parties are then quite fun, although Nika is still creeped out.
  • Paparazzi: Ilona Bogucka and the entire crew of News And Nuances to a lesser extent. They're news reporter, but will bend the truth or outright fake evidence for the audience.
  • Playful Hacker: Net (and his father).
  • Portmanteau: Names of the Institute's robots. Konpopoz is for KONserwator POwierzchni POZiomych (Conservator of Horizontal Surfaces), Roznakin is RObot ZNAKujący I Informujący (Information and Labeling Robot) and Autotup comes from 'AUTOmatyczny TUrystyczny Przewodnik (Automatic Tourist Guide).
  • Psychic Powers: Nika possesses telekinesis, although it works only when she feels strong emotions or focuses very hard.
  • Psycho Rangers: Kinga, Patryk i Adrian, the other Super-team. It's unclear if they're evil, but they quite likely work for the Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Reality Warping: Some ghosts can do this... Or can't they?
  • Really 17 Years Old: Nika wears make-up in order to look more mature, and lies about her age so she can work in a restaurant. She almost gets caught several times (many people from her school, including the chairman, suddenly decide to eat there).
  • Recurring Boss: Morten, who appeared (or was suspected of appearing) in books 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Net's Red to Felix' Blue. Golem Golem is Blue to Manfred's Red.
  • Repetitive Name: Golem Golem.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: All robots in the Institute are like this. Manfred also counts, as he has a new shiny robotic body now. Played with for Golem Golem.
  • Robot Maid: Konpopoz - no one wondered why they should create an Artificial Intelligence just to clean corridors - and it really backfired on them.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: Konpopoz has this attitude after his programming fails. Given what his attitude toward humans was to begin with...
  • Secret-Keeper: Felix and Net are this for Nika.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: In The Rise of Machines, we find out that Net's and Felix' parents also know that Nika is an orphan and actively help her hide it, without her knowledge.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The entire sewer system of Warsaw is one in The Trap of Immortality. There's also a smaller one between the orphanage and the sewer system.
  • Shout-Out: Everywhere. Some more specific examples:
  • Sixth Ranger: Manfred - though he's more like Mission Control or Team Pet since he debuted in the first book. Gilbert, son of a mad chemist, would be a better example, or Laura, Felix' girlfriend.
  • Tagalong Reporter: Ilona Bogucka has this attitude in The Rise of Machines, which annoys everybody to no end.
  • Time Travel: The entire plot of The Theoretically Possible Catastrophe.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: The robots in Institute follow them; some other AI's... not so much.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future / 20 Minutes into the Past: Both occur in The Theoretically Possible Catastrophe.
  • Unfinished Business: The motivation of ghosts.
  • Webcomic Time: The Gang of Invisible People takes part during one school year and The Theoretically Possible Catastrophe all happens during holidays. But then, all books up to and including The Rise of Machines happen in school's year two and both parts of The World Zero happen during holidays.