Literature / Jumper

Jumper is a 1992 Coming-of-Age Story sci-fi story by Steven Gould about a teenager who finds out he can teleport and his experiences with the consequences of his ability.

The novel has a 2004 sequel called Reflex, where Davy is kidnapped and Millie must track him. People who are carried along on enough jumps and have a moment of stress where they feel like they might die might Oh, she unconsciously learned how to Jump.

Inspired a 2008 film with a companion novel, Griffin's Story.

The 2013 third book in the series, Impulse, details the adventures of their daughter, Cent, who learns to Jump to escape an avalanche.

The 2014 fourth book in the series, Exo, was released in September 2014.

Jumper contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: A major subplot of the book. Davy leaves his abusive father and has to come to terms with how the abuse had affected his and his mother's life. Leaving home was why he even Jumped in the first place!
  • The Artifact: The Nebulous Evil Organization really have very little to do with the plot of Exo. They interfere at a distance, shoot a missile to destroy the Rice home, then show up and are taken out within a couple of chapters essentially to avert What Happened to the Mouse?. Exo is instead about Cent's space program.
  • Attempted Rape: Davy, by a trucker. It's the second time he Jumps.
  • Author Appeal: At one point in the novel, a former classmate who tried to seduce Davy while drunk later hawks Alanon (Alcoholics Anonymous... for the affected family and friends). Davy is a complete teetotaler, and often tips generously or tries to help out those who are less fortunate. Apparently becomes something of a character weakness in the sequel, Reflex, but it's still heavily present.
    • In later books, the protagonists are heavily involved in humanitarian work - mildly in Reflex, where Davy places tight constrictions on what jobs he'll do for the NSA and personally intervenes in multiple homeless peoples lives, then with dedication to larger causes after The Conspiracy precludes government work. A short story shows David and Millie intervening in a drought stricken area, and multiple stories have them move supplies, resources, and people to where they're needed.
    • In the last two books, Cent serves as a mouthpiece for the author's opinions on various identity politics debates.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After spending the whole novel afraid or resenting his father... Davy Jumps the old man to his mother's grave, tells him why he sucks and forces him to finally join AA and sober up.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Davy starts by robbing a bank, but later on gets legitimate work doing jumps for the NSA that pays even better than disappearing money from the bank. He still doesn't miss the opportunity to pocket a bit of bad-guy cash when the opportunity presents itself, though.
    • This bites him a bit though when a conspiracy sets its sights on him, since they conclude there's no way they could simply hire him to do their dirty work due to his ethical restrictions and copious cash, and jump straight to kidnapping and murder.
  • Die or Fly: David first Jumps to escape a beating from his father.
    • In the second book, Reflex, Millie learns to Jump when she falls off a hundred-foot cliff.
      • In the third book, Impulse, their daughter, Cent, learns to Jump to escape an avalanche.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In Impulse, we learn everything we need to know about Cent before we even meet her based on this note she pastes on her bedroom door.
    Help! I'm being held captive by two teleporting aliens. Please send friends. Will accept ice cream.
  • Genre Deconstruction: The first book is a takedown of the Superhero. An ordinary gifted-but-abused teenager given fantastic powers would not put on a costume and fight crime; he'd steal himself a pile of cash, live a comfortable life, try to get laid, and make a bunch of mistakes that nearly get him tossed in jail. He only later gets into superheroics (first to punish a wife-beater, then to stop airplane hijackings) for personal reasons. Furthermore, when the Government Conspiracy tries to capture him, he attacks them as much through the legal system as by being impossible to catch, and they eventually come to a mutual understanding. The series moves away from this in latter books.
  • Government Conspiracy: In the first book, the NSA acts a lot like this. It's played fairly realistically - the NSA are an ordinary government intelligence agency that want to understand how the heck David is teleporting and force him to work for them (or neutralize him as a potential threat), and are stepping outside of their constitutional authority to make it happen. Also, going to the courts is in fact a reasonable response to their illegal activities (assuming you have someone on the outside who knows that they've done something).
    • In the later books, government agencies are more benign or actively helpful, with their size and hierarchy instead exploited by a business conspiracy for its ends. Two prominent NSA agents who were antagonists in the first book are outright allies in the second book, with one dying attempting to protect Davy, and the FBI is treated as largely incorruptible (to the point that they only back off when the White House Chief of Staff orders it and the Agent In Charge and her boss are set up). Dozens of agents from the NSA and FBI are deployed in a sincere effort to back up Millie, but as leaks occur and the NSA as an organization eventually turns on her, people on the ground and other organizations are still benevolent.
    • In the third and fourth books, the government still gets used by the conspiracy, but there are severe consequences when it happens, with intensive investigations launched when a Predator drone from Italy destroys their house in Canada. In the third book, the conspiracy uses local criminals because they can't use the government to do their dirty work. Much of this can be ascribed to the real world evolution of the government and the authors perspective, from 1992 to 2005 to 2013 and 2014.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Overlaps with Not the Fall That Kills You. Davey does this to the terrorist who killed his mother but in a particularly nasty way. Davey can teleport, so he teleports the guy to the top of the World Trade Center, drops him, and teleports down to catch him just before he hits the ground. Then he does it again, and again, letting him get closer to the ground with each drop...
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Once she's able to jump, Cent puts her foot down and tells her parents that she is going to go to school and be a regular teenager with regular friends. By the end, the "normal life" part doesn't work out, but she does manage to make some friends. She's still waiting on the ice cream, though.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: Averted. Every time Davy jumps, his momentum is cancelled.
    • In the third book, Impulse, Davey's daughter, Cent, figures out how to un-cancel this momentum, granting her very temporary boosts of Super Speed and Super Strength.
  • Intangibility: It's discovered that whenever Davy jumps he opens a gateway for about a fifth of a second. Taken to the next level in book 2 when he works out how to "twin" himself, basically opening a Davy-shaped hole between any two locations.
  • Latex Space Suit: In Exo, Cent uses the family's money to invest in the development of one of these to fulfill her dream of space flight. The main sticking point is that the suit is impossible to get on in the first place. Cent can teleport into it, though.
  • Masquerade: Not strictly applied, but Davy tries to keep a low profile. It doesn't work very well - the government figures out that something's up almost immediately. In Exo, Cent decides to abandon secrecy, and goes public as Space Girl.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Cent's ever-observant mind objects to the YouTube comments about how hot "Space Girl" is, because of this trope. It doesn't matter that she's a female astronaut lifting satellites into orbit; because she's a girl, her attractiveness is always relevant.
  • Meganekko: Millie, whose designer glasses catch Davy's eye in the first film.
  • Missing Mom: Davy's mom leaves father and son because of the abuse. Just when the two are starting to reconcile, she is killed in a terrorist attack.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Davy uses Jumping to travel the world and make moving faster. After the Time Skip before Reflex he has an off-the-books job with the US government inserting intelligence agents, and in Impulse he and Millie perform deliveries to refugees in the Third World.
    • Cent applies this trope with style, using her power to become a one-woman space program. This overlaps with Magitek, as Cent uses teleportation instead of rocketry to launch satellites.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: One goes by various names and tries to kidnap and brainwash the Jumpers in the latter three books. They're in competition with the NSA, but unlike the latter, aren't really answerable to the courts because they officially don't exist. Their goals are never revealed, but they want Jumpers who can pull off assassinations for them (and really don't like Davy's pacifism). They go down like punks once they kidnap Cent.
  • Older Sidekick: Millie, in the book. Sort of.
  • Phrase Catcher: Cent repeatedly gets "This is no way to run a space program!" from exasperated authority figures.
  • Randomly Gifted: As far as he knows, Davy is the only jumper in existence. At least until book 2.
  • The Reliable One: In Exo, Cory Matoska fits this role for Cent. Cent is a bit of a Mad Scientist who prefers to fly by the seat of her pants, and Cory's the one who makes sure that she follows the checklist and does her math when she's doing something new.
  • Restraining Bolt: Part of an ongoing arc beginning in Reflex; an unnamed Nebulous Evil Organisation implants Davy with a Shock Collar that directly stimulates the pain center of his brain on command or when he Jumps outside safe zones - which doubles as an Explosive Leash capable of blowing his head off. Davy discovers that every member of the NEO has similar implants - and are pain-conditioned to believe they requested the implants as proof of loyalty. This extends even to the old man initially assumed to be the Big Bad - who is killed in the final confrontation of Reflex without naming his superiors. They're still at large in Impulse, breaking out the Femme Fatale who nearly seduced Davy in Reflex, who proceeds to challenge Cent.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Used word-for-word when Cent talks about the possibility of de-orbiting government spy satellites, costing the United States billions of dollars. Cent is much more active and aggressive about keeping the alphabet soup honest than Davy was, since she knows from her father's experience that government agencies behave about as well as they're forced to.
  • Shown Their Work: The author knows quite a bit about the current state of space travel, and that knowledge (along with speculation on how teleportation would help) is important to the plot of Exo.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Davy studies the jumping power and how it works, and he and Millie gradually figure out new applications through the use of "what happens if I try this?" Cent, Teen Genius that she is, puts her own spins on the ability.
  • Straw Feminist: Subverted. Cent is rather aggressively feminist ( halting conversations to insist on womanned, not manned, as a term for her ventures and insisting that her first interview be with a woman reporter), but this never reaches the point of caricature.
  • Teen Genius: Cent is able to develop new teleportation techniques while in high school, and at eighteen, is able to work alongside real Ph.Ds to launch a space program. She's not just doing grunt work, either - Apex Orbital is her show, and she makes knowledgeable decisions on all aspects of it.
  • Teleportation Jumper and its sequels are about a man, David Rice (and, in the ensuing decades, his wife Millie and daughter Cent, because apparently teleportation is catching) who can teleport to any location he can remember clearly. He remains unclear on why he can do so, despite unwilling participation in research of his ability, but the initial trigger appears to be an extreme fight or flight experience (in order by person, rape, falling, and avalanche). Other nuances also come into play, such as the preservation of momentum through 'jumps', the Required Secondary Powers that allow them to jump with him anything they can lift (therefore leaving things they 'can't' lift as potential restraints) and the utilization of the hole in space created to pour water, air, sand, and vacuum from one place into another. It also explores the ethical implications to a limited degree, as David and family have a strict no killing policy, but he initially uses his powers to rob a bank and later uses them as a one man infil/exfil team for the government (with, again, tight restrictions).
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Davy is unwilling to kill anyone. Even terrorists, NSA agents, or his dad - though he comes really close with Dad. Millie is the same way. Millie largely follows his lead. Cent? Nope. When she's captured by the Nebulous Evil Organization and she and Joe are threatened, she almost immediately uses deadly force to free herself.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Davy himself.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Granted, it's 3 books and nearly 30 years later, but no one mentions Davy's promise to give a reporter from the first book the exclusive if and when teleporting goes public after Cent very publicly saves a cosmonaut.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: David in the book. Though it's more because his father used to beat him and his mother.
  • You Killed My Father: When Islamic terrorists kill his mother, Davy is inspired to start fighting airplane hijackers in hopes of finding the man responsible for her death.