SCI FICTION, July 21, 2004

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"Jumpers" by Mary Rosenblum

Mary Rosenblum's novelette "Jumpers" is set in a futuristic manmade rainforest dubbed the Plantation.  It is a dense, humid wilderness of sweeping green canopies, devoid of larger animals such as monkeys and birds because they are not important to the trees, and therefore unnecessary to the Plantation cartel's purpose, the production of sap.  To trespass in the Plantation is to die.  But there are still insects, and since they cannot be eradicated, frogs are tolerated, and also snakes to keep the frogs in check.  And finally there is Zlia, a genetically engineered girl who lives with her lover and friend Silvano.  Zlia kills the snakes.  But Zlia and Silvano are not tolerated; they are illegal squatters in the artificial jungle.

Joaquin is the son of a rich and powerful man, one of the richest and most powerful in the world.  All Joaquin cares about is to prove the existence of Jumpers–escaping life from another universe, perceivable only as dark matter.  But his father has other notions.  In a perpetual game of hide and seek, Joaquin flees to the refuge of his research, and his father retrieves him.

Through the eyes of beautiful Zlia and hardened Silvano, Joaquin learns a universal truth, even as he captures proof of the existence of Jumpers. There is no such thing as escape for him, for anyone, and therefore no point in running.  The universe is not about control–who has it, who wants it–but rather balance, the kind that only a perfect unity with self, world, and purpose can bring about.

"Jumpers" is an enjoyable read with solid prose and an engaging storyline. However, I found it to lack some of the freshness and invention that recent Sci-Fiction offerings have imparted.  Satisfying, but by and large unmemorable.