> On the other hand, it seems like a better successor
> to QBasic than either Ruby, Python or Scheme, or even the various VB
> clones, so as a first language it might get someone to the fun bits
> faster.

Best Basic clone I have found is Blitz Max.  It is the new generation
of that old Amiga favorite Blitz Basic.  It is commercial but worth
it.  Very nice syntax, static typed, extremely fast and multi-platform
(including Linux, albeit no demo for it).  It also has a strong
community.

Albeit I'd probably recommend Ruby over it, it is also a good starting
language if you are into games.  For a full game coded in it, see Yoda
Soccer on sourceforge.  It is a clone of Sensible Soccer, and that IS
impressive for a "scripting" language.