Bounded Enthusiasm #11: Steven Gould and ‘Jumper’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Jumper Series

I mentioned in my recent Stack Overflow columns that I’ve been reading the Jumper series by Steven Gould (here are my mentions of Jumper, Reflex, Impulse), and today’s Bounded Enthusiasm podcast is an interview with Gould. We talked about the Jumper series, what it’s like to be a supporting character, and the recent controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards.

I had a really great time talking with Gould, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work soon. [Note: the Hugo Awards aren’t from the SFWA, but I felt that it does involve the science fiction community as a whole, and wanted to get his take on the situation.] You can download the MP3 of the podcast here, or use the player below.

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Steven Gould
Steven Gould. Photo by Ellen Datlow, used with permission.

Gould is best known for his Jumper series, but he has several other books as well (which are now on my to-read list). He’s also currently president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Right now he is still working on some more books in the Jumper series, and he’s also been working with James Cameron on the next three Avatar films, along with novelizations of all four movies.

I did end up re-reading Impulse in the correct order, and I enjoyed it the second time around, too. This time around I noticed a few more things that alluded to events in the first two books and was able to piece together a little more, but I’m still impressed by how well it works on its own, too. Exo, the fourth book in the series, feels very much like a sequel to Impulse. It takes place only a couple years later (as opposed to the decade-long gaps between the first three books), and Cent is still the main character.

Without giving too many spoilers, Exo is about getting to space. Cent learned to tweak her velocity while jumping, and Impulse played around with that idea a lot. In Exo, she’s experimenting even more, trying to see if she can keep jumping until she gets to space–but of course there are a whole host of issues that need to be addressed: oxygen, protection from radiation, temperature, and so on. Parts of the book read like a how-to guide for building your own space station, though of course it’s only possible if you have somebody who can jump. Space geeks will definitely get a kick out of it; if you’re only in it for the bad guys and action sequences, then you’re probably in the wrong series anyway.

There are still bad guys after Cent’s family, though, but in this latest book it didn’t always seem as pressing. So there are sections of the book that are a little less suspenseful than previous books in the series, but I liked it because it allowed Gould to really play around in space.

As with the other books, there are lots of issues that make their way into the book, like the proliferation of space junk, for instance. Another prominent issue is women in science. Cent is fairly vocal about having her project be female-driven, and I liked the way that her character really takes the lead. Gould has two more books in the series under contract, so I’m looking forward to where he takes Cent and her family next.

Thanks to Gerry Tolbert for audio wrangling!

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