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Ceridwen

Ceridwen

You kids get off my lawn. 

Jumper - Steven Gould I have it on good authority that this book was made into the worst movie ever (hi Rachel!), but this is a quiet and strangely affecting little story. Far from being a tale about Hayden Christensen stomping around like a petulant jerk and fighting the Paladins (screenwriters, are you even trying anymore?), it's a story of a young man coming to terms with the alcoholism, abandonment and abuse that characterized his childhood.

The jumping, or instantaneous teleportation, is a nice example of a scifi or fantasy device not being a totally ridiculous mcguffin. Davy is mistreated by his father; he learns how to run away and run away fast. Gould has obviously worked out the exact parameters of the jumping ability, sometimes to boring effect. Oh, so Davy can't jump while handcuffed to something? Are you going to show him handcuffed to something later, and watch him sort it out? No? Okay, but that would have been cool. Don't toy with me, Mr. Gould.

The novel suffers from a kind of bifurcation: the first half is more coming of age love story, the second half deals with social and political consequences of his jumping, centering on his obsession with thwarting hijackings. The story was written pre-9/11, and the way in which terrorism and hijackings are dealt with has become historically quaint.

There's something to be said for anachronistic science fiction, though. Davy comes to the attention of the NSA at one point, and he has a conversation with one of the agents about the nature of terrorism that wouldn't even be possible today, at least not without a bunch of political and nationalist garbage thrown in. The antediluvian view of terrorism lacks the visceral gut-punch of today's ideas, and sometimes to better results.

Davy is not perfect, and makes a lot of morally ambiguous choices, but I have to say the book is better for it. I like that he acts perfectly reasonable about some things, and a total twit about others. It's not a perfect story, but it was an enjoyable read.