One Giant Leap
by Ben Gartner
GENRE: middle grade hard science fiction action adventure
pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a
Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!
I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.
The frayed end of my tether whips around like a lasso as I flip front over back and sideways.
I see the long blue smear of Earth hurtling past. The silver hull of my ship, the Aether, whizzes by in a blur before I gasp at the once-glorious International Space Station. Now, just wreckage. The ISS spits pieces that twinkle in the sunlight. Sparks sizzle and blink against the black backdrop of the endless universe.
My spin continues until all I can see is the void of deep space, punctured by bright pinpricks of gaseous stars millions of light-years away.
The horizon of Earth again, with its clouds and land and water. Home.
The shiny tube of my ship, the Aether. It’s. So. Close. And yet, it can’t save me.
The ISS, Earth, the Aether, and here we go again on this terrible merry-go-round— You get the picture. It’s not good. I close my eyes.
I’m tumbling, and I think I’m squirting oxygen from my life-support backpack, which isn’t helping my somersaults. My suit is losing pressure. At least that’s what I guess is causing the fuzz in my brain. It’s hard to think. My vision is narrowing, dimming, like I’m about to wink away.
And the thing that I think is actually going to kill me? Water is leaking from somewhere inside my suit. Quickly it builds up and clings to my face like a wet rag. It’s a film over my eyes, it plugs my nose, and it slides into my mouth like alien slime whenever I try to cough. I shake my head violently to jiggle the liquid free, so hard that a nerve cries out in my neck. The head-whip kinda works, and I’m able to suck in a tiny breath. I choke down some water and, though the idea sounds ludicrous, I think, Am I going to drown . . . in space?
At this point, you might be asking, “What is a twelve-year-old doing in space?”
And I’d say, “That’s what you’re worried about? Not that I’m going to die?!”
It’s cool. Let me answer both questions. Why I’m one of the first kids in space, and how I ended up in this mess, adrift from my craft and about to become a permanent orbiting satellite. If I don’t plunge into the atmosphere and burn up first.
I’ll pause my death scene to explain a bit about how I got here. Because that’s a thing, right? Aren’t you curious how I got into this impossible quagmire? It’s a pretty amazing story. And 100 percent true.
The books I tend to enjoy reading are about kids being brave, or learning how to be, and I’d like to tell you this is one of those. But I’m not feeling it right now.
To be fair, in those books the kids are fighting fantasy monsters that disappear into dust when you stab them, or they’re in a simulation, or a video game, or you kind of know everything’s going to be all right, right? It’s fake danger.
This story is different. This one’s real. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to survive this. Adrift in space with my oxygen running low, all alone, spinning uncontrollably, a water leak in my suit threatening to drown me.
It all started innocently enough when a harmless package arrived in the mail . . .
Topic: What makes your book different from others in the genre?
One Giant Leap adds to a very slim selection of hard science fiction titles available for middle grade readers. First, let me level-set on what “hard scifi” entails: The “hard” part of that classification might be better categorized as “realistic.” So “realistic science fiction” as opposed to aliens and lasers or Star Wars or Star Trek, etc. Those types of science fiction are entertaining, yes, but the category I’m talking about is reality-based, plausible, typically more near-term future. The science in One Giant Leap is real. Sure, the overall plot may require a little suspension of disbelief, and sometimes concepts are compressed to make them more approachable and in line with the fast-paced nature of an action-adventure story, but there shouldn’t be any fundamental or intentional errors as it relates to the science, history, and near-term anticipated future for space travel.
As one fellow middle-grade author, Refe Tuma, put it, “One Giant Leap is a thrilling love letter to the past, present, and future of international space exploration, launching readers on a harrowing adventure beyond the Kármán Line fueled by Gartner’s signature fast-paced storytelling and meticulously researched details. A worthy middle school homage to The Right Stuff and For All Mankind.” That blurb from a Publishers Weekly starred author says it beautifully.
Some other books in this “hard scifi” genre include the Moon Base Alpha series by Stuart Gibbs, a favorite of ours in this house. Or another fantastic stellar adventure is The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky, who blurbed One Giant Leap with: “Smart, fast-paced, and an absolute must for anyone who dreams of space. STEM fans, take note! This thrillride is for you!”
I’m not just trying to sneak in accolades here (okay, maybe a little, that’s the point here, right?!), but these quotes seem to speak directly to the question you posed for this post: What makes One Giant Leap different from others in the genre? And I guess the core of my answer is that there aren’t a lot of books in this genre! Maybe there’s a reason for that, and sales will tell, but from what I hear from kids, teachers, librarians, and parents, is that they want MORE realistic science-based space fiction!
If you have other recommendations, I’d love to hear them in the comments, people!
Thank you for having me on your blog. If people want to learn more about my books, they can check out my website at BenGartner.com. I’m also active on Twitter and Instagram at @BGartnerWriting.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of adventure books for middle graders. His stories take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something on the journey. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.
Available in paperback, hardback, and ebook everywhere books are sold. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/One-Giant-Leap-Ben-Gartner/dp/B0BKMNW9CC/
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/one-giant-leap/id6443869873 B&N
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-giant-leap-ben-gartner/1142528397
Local: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=author%3AGartner%2C%20Ben Everywhere Else: https://books2read.com/one-giant-leap-ben-gartner
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I liked the excerpt.ReplyDelete
Thank you for including me and One Giant Leap on your blog!ReplyDelete
Sounds like a great story.ReplyDelete
What time of day do you find it easier to write or why?ReplyDelete