After a delay of too many years, Steven Gould has penned another Jumper novel. Impulse picks up where the excellent Reflex left off, with Davy and Millie — a couple who possess the power to teleport — living in exile, hiding away from the sadistic, power-hungry plutocrats who would enslave them and use them to increase their corrupt power.
But now Davy and Millie have an adolescent daughter, Cent (short for Millicent), and she's not happy living in an isolated cabin in the Yukon with a pair of teleports who are her only means of getting to civilization. Though there are some perks: when Mom and Dad take her shopping, it's as apt to be in Tokyo or Sydney as at the local Sears.
Cent's parents are understandably (over)protective of her. They've been hunted like animals, tortured, gassed, shot, by the conspiracy of wealth and privilege that would turn them into property. The last thing they want is for their daughter to be hunted too — especially since Cent can't teleport.
And then she does. Once Cent comes into the family gift, things change. Her demand to be put into a regular school, to have friends, and a semblance of a normal life, is finally taken seriously by her parents. After all, if Cent doesn't get what she wants, she might just jump away and take it.
What proceeds is a book with the twin geniuses of Steven C Gould novels: first, a plot that roars along at 150mph without a pause for breath (I read Impulse over the course of about three hours, without a break); second, a fantastic, fresh, thoroughgoing explanation of the untapped possibilities of a old science fictional idea made new by an imaginative approach. As with the other Jumper books, Gould plays out the possibilities of teleportation with a combination of physics tutorials and spycraft that is absolutely enthralling.
Watching Cent get into (and out of) trouble, fall in love, battle bullies, and even intervene in humanitarian disasters is a pure delight. Gould shows us that with the right mixture of creativity and rigor, any idea can be spun out in a thousand fascinating ways.
This is a marvellous, if long overdue, installment in a series that I love to pieces. Now, if only Gould would return to his (equally wonderful) Seventh Sigma world!