Bookmark: Steven Gould

Steven Gould is one of my favorite authors because of the way he takes one impossible idea and then logically delves into a world with this one new impossible idea in it.  He has a scientific method feel to how he writes science fiction that I really enjoy and he generally has a nice touch with action and characters as well.

He’s probably best known for his Jumper trilogy from which the movie Jumper was made.  The movie loses a lot of what makes the novels special, with the movie instead crafting a gigantic mythology of war between jumpers and paladins, with less believable limits and coherent explanations for the “jump” phenomenon. Plus it stars Hayden Christensen. Has he ever been good in a movie? AV Club tackles the misfires of the movie adaption here.

Here is AV Club’s summary of the aspects of the novel kept for the film (the implication being everything else is different):

Here, in a nutshell, are all the significant similarities between Jumper the book andJumper the movie: Both feature a protagonist named David Rice, who finds out, as a teenager, that he can teleport. He abandons his alcoholic father, drops out of high school, and moves to New York City, where he books himself into a shitty flophouse, uses his power to teleport into a bank vault, and teleports back out with a whole lot of money. Also, there’s a love interest named Millie who doesn’t like being lied to.

The third book in the Jumper series just came out. The first one is a coming of age story for Davy Rice.  The second one, Reflex, is about Davy’s girlfriend/wife Millie learning to jump and saving Davy’s from some government bad guys.  The newest one, Impulse, is about Davy’s and Millie’s daughter Cent and their life as a family.  (Gould also wrote Jumper: Griffin’s Storya book that’s a prequel to the movie and it’s decent but it’s not really in the same universe as the rest of the novels.)

Impulse is way more of a young adult novel than the other two (even than the first one) concerned with what seem like high school life and issues with bullies and boys and fitting in.  It escalates a little bit more as the book goes on but it never provoked the same sense of danger for the main characters as the previous books.  Still it’s a completely enjoyable read as Gould focuses his methodical eye on how a teenage “jumper” would try to fit into normal life.  The character of Cent is a great addition to this series.

Gould, in all of these books, is very good at showing jumping without doing too much telling at the reader.  The characters explain the limits of the power through their actions in the stories.  Of course Gould is making it all up but he makes you believe that this is a real physical thing that his characters are figuring out through trial and error.

The other Gould book I’ve read and also enjoyed is Wildside which posits a simple idea and then takes it nd runs with it.  The idea is that a teenager discovers a duplicate earth without human life on it and so completely undeveloped (hence, “wildside”).  You do have to take a leap of disbelief at the beginning when the door to the other world/dimension is discovered but from then on Gould once again builds a very logical and detail-laden story around that world.  There are some aspects at the end where some mystery is resolved in a way that felt a little deus ex machina but nothing I would actually complain about, just a bit of a departure from what you grow to expect and appreciate from Gould after reading his work.

The Gould novels I have not read yet include Greenwar (Forge, 1997; Tor, 1998) with Laura J. Mixon; Helm (Tor, 1998); Blind Waves (Tor, 2000); and 7th Sigma (2011).

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