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Literature / Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left

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"I am a Family Organiser. I am solely responsible for the family well being at all times."
X on her role in her alien family at around age ten.

Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left is a children's novel by Robin Klein, which was turned into a 1994 television series.

When X's father is caught cheating in the Zyrgonian lottery for the 27th time, the Zyrgonian government loses patience. When they send their officials after him, the head of the family, ten-year-old X herself, sees no choice but to flee as far away as possible. So she and her family go halfway across the galaxy, and turn left, taking shelter on an ignored and primitive planet called Earth. Though originally intending only to hide out on Earth until the government is overthrown again, eventually, they decide they prefer living on Earth.

Followed by a literature sequel, Turn Right for Zyrgon, where the family and X's closest human friend, Jenny, are kidnapped back to Zyrgon to sort out some governmental issues involving their aunt. When Jenny gets mistaken for a goddess due to a reaction to Zyrgonian crystal cakes, things only get worse. Fortunately, they ultimately sort things out and choose to return to Earth.

The television series mostly focuses on X's problems controlling her loopy family on an alien planet, while the government on her own planet relentlessly searches for them. X's desperate attempts for her family to fit in with Earth society leave her fighting an uphill battle, and providing much entertaining television in the process.

This book and series provides examples of:

  • Alien Among Us: Part of the premise.
  • Amusing Alien: The book and the series derive most of their comedy from the way that X and her family have no understanding of human culture, leading to wacky hijinks.
  • Becoming the Mask: As a result of having to act more like the responsible, level-headed and mature people that Earth society expects them to be because of their age, Father and Mother actually do become less Manchild-like.
    • Additionally, the entire family comes to realize that they actually prefer life on Earth, confusing and weird as it is, so they ultimately decide to stay there.
  • Brainless Beauty: Lox is a male example; a Zyrgonian starship pilot renowned for his handsomeness. X's sister Dovis also displays some traits of this, but is shown to be smarter and more aware than she acts.
  • Brawn Hilda: Aunt Hecla, a positive example of this trope; an antelope herder from Zyrgon's second moon taller than any human man with a powerful build, hair so long she uses it as a windproofing cape, arms like steel girders and a voice that can be heard from a mile away.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Zyrgonian antelopes are lapdog-sized vaguely goat-like creatures with long, curly wool.
  • Character Development: Though they retain a certain child-like enthusiasm for life, Father and Mother actually grow more responsible and mature as a result of having to display such traits in order to better blend in.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Every alien character except X and possibly her genius brother Qwrk.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Ooohhh boy, this trope up to eleven as far as a lighthearted kids show can get.
  • Fish out of Water: Zigzagged. X certainly feels this way, as does Qwrk, but Dovis blends into the high school crowd easily and even their parents seem to assimilate surprisingly well.
  • Human Aliens: Zyrgonians look perfectly human.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: By the end of the first book, after having gotten sick and been forced to trust her family to organize itself, X comes to the realization that she enjoys not having to make all the decisions for them and just be an ordinary Earth kid.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Why the family came here in the first place; Earth is such a galactic backwater that, even though Zyrgon knows it exists, they would never expect X's family to come here.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: X gets her human name (Charlotte) from a recipe book (the first recipe being Apple Charlotte).
  • Manchild: Father and Mother both act with a level of child-like casualness and irresponsibility; this is because, on Zyrgon, managing the affairs of the household fall to X, so they literally don't have to do anything.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Zigzagged; in "Turn Right for Zyrgon", the kidnapped human Jenny is able to eat Zyrgonian crystal cakes without any real harm... beyond the fact that they act as a Fantastic Drug that leaves her with a muddled mind, easily manipulated, and shedding a strange radiance from her skin that causes Zyrgonians to mistake her for some kind of goddess.
  • One-Letter Name: X.
  • Only Sane Man: This is literally X'S role in the family; as the Organiser, her entire childhood has been spent training to be the voice of reason and the official policy setter for her family. She makes all of the official decisions, handles the finances, and basically runs everything.
  • Precocious Crush: X has one on Lox, a much older male Brainless Beauty starship pilot, for most of the first book. And Jenny's older brother Colin has a crush on X (which, after X moves on from her crush on Lox in the TV series, is even hinted she may reciprocate)
  • Psychic Powers: The natives of Zyrgon all have these to some extent. In X's family, Dovis is the most skilled at telekinetic levitation, whilst X has more skill with folding spatial dimensions.
    • In the TV series, they gradually lose their powers after reaching Earth - whether this is because their psychic powers were in some way tied directly to the environment on Zyrgon (e.g. the planet's magnetic field, some type of radiation specific to their world, something in their diet, etc); or because after coming to Earth they gradually stop relying on their powers and they simply waste away from disuse - is never made clear.
  • School Grade Hacking: X struggles to live up to the expectations placed on her because of her exceptional result in the aptitude tests for Family Organiser. Near the end of the novel, Father admits to her that he hacked her test results because he wanted her to do well, and that her actual results weren't that good.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: X and Qwrk; the former is more conventionally sensible, while the latter is a Child Prodigy with Super-Intelligence even by the standards of his own alien race.

Alternative Title(s): Halfway Across The Galaxy And Turn Left