Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
The Science of Wonder
  Book Reviews by Jamie Todd Rubin
February 2013

Title: Impulse
Author: Steven Gould
Publisher: TOR

When I was a kid, I used to daydream what it would be like to have the ability to teleport at will. Of course, as a kid, I never considered the possible down sides of having such an ability (even the ironic ones, as in Isaac Asimov's classic short story "It's Such a Beautiful Day.") Sometime in the fall of 1993, I discovered I was not the only one in the world who'd had a such a day-dream. It was in that fall that I discovered Jumper by Steven Gould. I was on a break from college and read the book in one sitting. And I loved it. Gould's day-dreams about teleportation, "jumping" as he called it, were far better than my own.

Twenty years later, Gould is back again with a sequel to Jumper called Impulse. This is actually the third book in the series. Jumper involved the young Davy learning about his abilities and how to use them. The second book, Reflex, sees both David and Millie -- who can also jump -- as adults, fighting a criminal organization. In Impulse we are reunited once again with David and Millie, and in this latest installment, their brilliant, home-schooled teenage daughter, Cent.

Living isolated in the Yukon, Cent wants to go to high school with other students, something her parents reluctantly agree to only after she reveals to them that she, too, has the ability to "jump." Her ability allows her to attend school in the small town of New Prospect where she is finally able to make friends of her own. She even joins the snowboarding team. But from the start, she has a run-in with the local bully, a girl nicknamed "Caffeine" and find that her problems with Caffeine and her cronies are just beginning.

An intelligent girl, Cent uses her knowledge of science to make guesses at ways to use her abilities that her parents never considered. For instance, she discovers that she can "jump in place" which allows her to instantly add momentum to herself in any direction. She uses this ability to protect herself and her friends from the bullies. Meanwhile, David discovers that the woman who once held him prisoner has escaped. Both story lines come together for an exciting conclusion.

Gould is an outstanding storyteller. I went into Impulse with some trepidation. First, I hadn't read Reflex and was worried that the story would not make sense. But Gould weaves enough of the backstory into the narrative of Impulse to make it clear what happened to Davy and Millie in the previous book.

Second, I worried that what I read in Jumper at half my present age would not hold up twenty years later. I was wrong. Gould's storytelling drew me right in. His portrayal of Cent as both a strong female protagonist, and one with genuine teenage feelings and concerns made the story even better. Cent's experiments with teleportation added a fascinating aspect to the story. But perhaps more than anything else, the novel scratched that teenage itch, that boyhood daydream about what it would be like if I could teleport. I got to live it through Cent's eyes and I did not come away disappointed.

Read more by Jamie Todd Rubin


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