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The Big Jump
By Leigh Brackett

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The Big Jump

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The Big Jump
By Leigh Brackett
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 0-7862-5185-9
Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - September 12, 2003

Arch Comyn pays his debts, and when his friend Paul Rogers goes missing, he makes it his mission in life to find out what happened. Tracking down Rogers is not going to be easy. Rogers was a crew member on a space ship that was the first to make the Big Jump. The engines on the ship achieved stardrive, and the ship traveled across the galaxy. When the ship returned, only Ballantyne, the ship's Captain, was aboard the vessel. The fate of the other four crewmen, Rogers included was unknown. Unfortunately, Ballantyne had been severally injured and was suffering from radiation sickness, so he was unable to tell anyone what had happed to his crew.

While Ballantyne lay dying in a hospital bed, everyone else celebrated his accomplishment, and what it meant for future space exploration. Comyn, however, was more concerned with the fate of his friend who had once saved his life, than he was about Ballantyne's achievement. To get the answers that he needed, Comyn first had to get to Ballantyne, which was only the first of many challenges that he would have to overcome.

In this fast paced novel, Comyn travels the Earth colonies on Mars and the Moon and he single-handed does battle against the Cochrane Corporation which financed Ballantyne's mission. In the end, Comyn finds that to get any real answers he will have to retrace Ballantyne's route. If he can manage this task, and if he returns, will he return in any better shape than Ballantyne did?

The Big Jump, by Leigh Brackett is a fun, well-paced story that is technically a science fiction mystery with Comyn playing the role of the rough and ready gumshoe. Comyn's adventures on his journey to the truth is exiting and believable. Brackett was a great writer. While best known for her science fiction, she also wrote several well-received mysteries, in addition to numerous screenplays such as the one for The Empire Strikes Back.

A quick read, The Big Jump is a fine introduction to Brackett's work. While most of her books tend to be more akin to space operas or fantasy stories, this book weighs in more on the side of hard science fiction. Not only does this story deal with the stardrive engine, but it also includes the existence of transuranics - elements that should not exist according to modern science. Although not a typical Brackett story, The Big Jump is entertaining and a fine example of this versatile writer's imaginative and writing style.

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