Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blind Speed Dating #46 (MG)

Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction
Word Count: 64,000


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. Just ask Jasper. He’s a klutz with a capital K, and he zones out more than he tunes in. He can’t wait to ship out to the Jumpstart Space Academy where he’ll finally meet other kids like him.

Life is stellar at the Jumpstart Academy until Jasper’s team discovers an alien prisoner locked aboard the space station with a connection to a secret technology. 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 and explore the galaxies as they’ve 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 new friends can’t master the gloves and work together, the Variants won’t ever make it back to Earth.

SPACE JUMPERS 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 where neurodiversity, including ADHD and autism, has declined due to genetic engineering until the Space Force reintroduces the variant genes. 

First 250:

When the retaining wall comes into view, Addy and I are glued to the window. We rarely ride the rail to the sea, and it’s awesome to see the thirty-story wall holding back the water. The waves beat and lash against the barrier like an angry neighbor pounding at the door. I press my hand against the air rail glass and squint, trying to spot the Intergalactic Space Force Aeronautical Port anchored to the ocean floor ten miles out.

“Can you see it?” Addy asks.

“Not yet.” I pull at my collar. The starched cotton scratches my skin. Mom says I’ll get used to it, but right now the ISF cadet uniform feels like a straitjacket.

“This is so unfair, Jasper,” Addy says. “How come you get to do everything first?”

“Sorry.” I wish Addy was coming with me. If we could ship out to the space station together, I could shake the nerves and focus on the exciting stuff like piloting the jumper ships and exploring the galaxies. “Next year, when you’re twelve, you’ll get to go to the Jumpstart Academy, too.”

When we exit at the station, three other kids dressed in the ISF cadet uniform step onto the platform with us. Addy and I stare. We’ve never known any other Variants, and there are at least five of us within shouting distance. If we count brothers and sisters of cadets, there are probably eight or nine. I tap Addy on the shoulder, and she grins. 

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