Monday, January 21, 2013

Bouncer Post #69

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. 

First 250:

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. 


  1. Love the story idea! I think the query gets bogged down in lots of (fun) details. Try to streamline it to 2-3 paragraphs with just the highlights.

    I'm not sure the first 250 starts in the right place - mostly because I wasn't sure what seeing an alien might be a sign for?

    I like Jasper's voice. I'd like to see it start with him shipping out, then we're seeing action and the back story can weave in more naturally.

    Really love to see this one in the book store one day!

  2. Great voice!

    Sounds like if is filled with fun details. I agree that could cut down some on the query, just pare it down a bit.

    The alien sounds awesome. I love all the hair and grossness stuffed into an officers uniform.

    Good Luck!! (#61)

  3. Oh my gosh! I love it! This reminds me (in a good way) of Nathan Bransford's Jacob Wonderbar series! How fun!

  4. I like the story and Jasper's voice and the idea of putting some different kids in there (austism, etc). My issue with your query, like others said above, are its wordiness and I also wish there was a little bit more voice (from Jasper- maybe some words he uses). This really reminds me of ENDER'S GAME, a fave of mine growing up and I hope the bouncers dig this too. Good luck!!

  5. Reading your query made me want to buy the book! Love it! I thought your first 250 were good but it was missing the punch I found in the query.
    This is definitely a book I'd want to read.

  6. Def. getting an ENDERS GAME vibe coming off the query. That's my cup of coffee (would say tea but I don't drink it) right there. I do agree with everyone else that while the query is good, it needs to be cut down a bit. Trim the paragraphs down to the meat and veggies and make each line matter. Regardless, you do give us what we need from it, but can be cut down.

    I do enjoy the glove technology bit, it gives it a nice twist to a typical man vs alien cliche. It'll be fun to read about these kids using it.

    As for your 250, I love your description of the aliens. Reminds me of mole men from outer space lol. Also, your MC voice is coming out and I can already tell his personality by the first few paragraphs.

    The last line read a little bit weird to me. Not sure why. Just had to re-read it a few times. I think it was the makes me jump part. Maybe something like "I start staring at the teeth lining the aliens jaw only to jump halfway out of my seat when the buzz of a mechanical voice sounds out throughout the car." - of course..better than that though lol.

  7. Hey everyone, thanks so much for the feedback! And best of luck to the other entrants! May there be a pot of gold at the end of your query rainbow.


  8. So I want to give everyone feedback, even when I don't write those magical words. This was a super tough call, because I really think you have a unique premise! I like where this is going, and I think your writing is solid. You lost me a bit in the query. While many of the details were fabulous, I had to reread several times to sort out the salient plot points. Even so, I had the one I still wanted clarification on - the odd, clumsy, inattentive line seemed to hint at the ADHD/autism component, but it felt a bit too stereotypish/unclear? I hope this feedback helps, and I wish you the best of luck with your writing!