A Space Epic That’s Really About Familiar Things by a Brooklyn Dad & Author
by Jason Fry
I was 8 years old in 1977, so I love Star Wars—heck, I’ve written some two dozen books set in a galaxy far, far away, so I’d better. But what makes Star Wars so great isn’t the aliens or the starships—it’s Luke Skywalker staring into the twin suns of Tatooine, yearning to escape the farm. I’ve never seen a double sunset, but I know what Luke’s feeling in that moment. I love pirate stories too, but what makes Treasure Island a classic isn’t the ships or the treasure map—it’s the murderous yet oddly gallant Long John Silver. I’ve never been a pirate, either, but I’ve had bosses and neighbors and associates that I could never quite make up my mind about.
When stories work, it’s because they’re about people—heroes we can root for, and villains we can boo and hiss. Which brings me to my book The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra. It was released Dec. 23 from HarperCollins, for kids aged 8 to 80—you can read the first five chapters here.
The Jupiter Pirates is set in 2893, when tensions are rising between Earth and its former colonies on the moons of Jupiter. The moons are no match for Earth’s military might, so they’ve fought back by signing up privateers—many of them barely reformed pirates—to seize Earth’s merchant ships.
That’s a fun setting, one I’ve certainly enjoyed creating and using to tell stories. But it’s not really what The Jupiter Pirates is about. Like every other story, it’s really about people.
It’s about a family, the Hashoones, who also happen to be a starship crew. The hero of The Jupiter Pirates is Tycho Hashoone, a 12-year-old midshipman aboard the Shadow Comet. His twin sister Yana is also a midshipman, as is his older brother Carlo. His mother Diocletia is the Comet’s captain; his father Mavry Malone is first mate. The final member of the bridge crew is Tycho’s grandfather Huff Hashoone—a former pirate whose body is half-metal. The position of captain is handed down from one generation to the next. Tycho, Yana and Carlo all dream of being the next captain – but only one of them will succeed.
Like siblings everywhere, the Hashoone kids have to cooperate even as they compete. They want their parents’ attention and resent their control over their lives. They dream of glory and worry if they can measure up to their family name. They resent each other and bicker and quarrel—and band together against common threats. They just happen to do all this on airless moons and aboard space stations and amid tumbling asteroids.
The Jupiter Pirates is equal parts high-seas adventure and space opera, a combination of two things I loved as a kid. It has space pirates with tattoos and carbines, who most definitely say “Arrr” (though there are no parrots—at least not yet). Its starships wheel and tumble rather than moving in straight lines as physics would prefer. But in writing the book, I kept Luke Skywalker and Long John Silver in mind: If The Jupiter Pirates connects with readers, it won’t be because of starships or pirates. It’ll be because readers root for Tycho, knowing firsthand or remembering or anticipating what it’s like to be twelve and wondering if you’re up to the challenges awaiting you. It’ll be because they admire Yana’s refusal to back down from anything or anybody. It’ll be because they wish they had Diocletia to demand the best from them and somehow get it.
I’m so excited to see The Jupiter Pirates in bookstores and readers’ hands. I can’t wait for readers to see the homestead I’ve dreamed up in an old mine on the moon Callisto. I hope they’ll like the judge presiding—complete with powdered wig – over a crowded courtroom on a forlorn asteroid. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll thrill to the Comet’s crew strapping on pistols and exploring the pitch-black corridors of an enemy pirate ship.
But most of all I’m excited for readers to meet the people I’ve imagined—Tycho and Yana and Carlo, Diocletia and Mavry and Huff, Vesuvia and Thoadbone Mox. They’re not real, but I’ve come to care about them and worry about what fates await them. They’re my creations, yes, but sometimes they feel like something more—like family.
Jason Fry lives in Brooklyn with his wife Emily and his son Joshua. Find out more about The Jupiter Pirates at jupiterpirates.com or on Facebook.