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 attempts to find out if he's the Last of His Kind.

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, one of the teenagers who tried to seduce Davy while drunk 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.
  • 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 (and with less likelihood of getting caught). He still doesn't miss the opportunity to pocket a bit of bad-guy cash when the opportunity presents itself, though.
  • 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 force David to work for them, 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).
  • 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. 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 becomes a gateway for a fraction 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.
  • Randomly Gifted: As far as he knows, Davy is the only jumper in existence. At least until book 2.
  • 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 have 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 space program, 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 ( naming her space station after Sally Ride and insisting that her first interview be with a woman reporter), but not to the point of hating men or becoming a 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.
  • 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. As for 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.
  • 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.