Title: SPACE JUMPERS
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction
Word Count: 66,000
Twelve-year-old Jasper Adams was bred by the Intergalactic Space Force for his aptitude at space travel. But being a Variant comes at a cost. Variant kids can be odd, clumsy, inattentive. All around Not Normal. Just ask Jasper. He can’t wait to ship out for the Jumpstart Space Academy where he’ll finally fit in.
At first, life at the Jumpstart Academy is as stellar as Jasper hoped – making friends, riding the suction chutes, and prepping for the field trip to the Paleo Planet. But when Jasper is placed on a team of mismatched kids, everything flies out of orbit. Jasper is a disaster in the blast pack relay. And he’s the only one who connects with his teammate, Mira, the musical mute, so he’s labeled a freak.
Jasper will need Mira’s help and more, though, when his team discovers an alien prisoner with a tie to a secret technology locked aboard the space station. The Space Force has developed neural-linked gloves that enable free-jumping, space travel without a ship. The more the kids snoop, the more they realize the Variants weren’t bred to pilot the jumper ships as they’d always been told. They were born to wear the gloves.
The problem is the Space Force didn’t invent the glove technology on its own. They stole it from the aliens. And the aliens are angry. If Jasper and his teammates can’t master the gloves and work together, the Variants won’t make it off the Paleo Planet in one piece.
SPACE JUMPERS is a 66,000 word Middle Grade SciFi that blends the intrigue and quirky characters of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY with the setting and stakes of ENDER’S GAME. The story imagines a future Earth where neurodiversity, including ADHD and autism, has declined due to genetic engineering until the Space Force reintroduces the variant genes.
I know it's rude to stare. How many times has Mom told me that? A million? But I've never seen an alien before. Not up close, at least. Sure, we've all seen the Global Geographic specials that air on the webs in a constant loop, 24-7. Anyone who hasn't seen pics and videos of the Tunnelers must have been hiding out in a dingy hover garage for the last twenty years.
But there he is. Sitting across from me on the air rail car. Me, Jasper Adams, riding the rails with an alien – a real live Tunneler – on my way home from school.
It must be a sign. I mean, what are the odds I’d have a close encounter with an alien the same day I ship out to the space station?
The alien is small. It's not like I’m one of the short kids, but I’m not that big for twelve, either. And I’m a lot taller than him. He has a long, rodent-like snout. Bristly brown hair sprouts from every patch of skin. He wears dark glasses that curve around on the sides. The light probably bugs him because Tunnelers live underground. He wears the standard officer's uniform – grey jumpsuit with orange lettering, ISF, Intergalactic Space Force.
The alien's lips pucker in a perfect circle and then whip back. A guttural snarl bubbles out of his throat. Errr. Arrr. Kleek. Kleek. Arrr. Kit. Ahhh.
I’m staring at the alien's mouth when a mechanical voice makes me jump.