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Jupiter, Issue 26, October 2009

Jupiter, Issue 26, October 2009
Jupiter
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A review by Rich Horton

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Jupiter's issue XXVI is subtitled Isonoe. As I have mentioned before, this magazine has a very consistent feel -- SF, indeed slightly old style SF, is the dominant mode here.. Alas, as one continuously reviews the same 'zine, one is bound to be disappointed sometimes, and this struck me as a bit of a down issue for Jupiter.

The opening story, "The Space Sphinx" by Edward Rodosek, is a novelette told by a man who came to a colony planet as its chief "hunter," protecting the colony from the dangerous local fauna. He tells the story of his successor, who met and married a mysterious local woman only to lose her, apparently, to some alien creature, then disappeared himself. The final answer to the mystery is predictable but all in all it could have made a pleasant enough piece, but it suffers from a slightly creaky structure (the real story is told at two removes: the nominal POV character is a newswoman, and she is told the story by the older hunter, but the story is truly about the younger hunter), and from some clunkiness to the prose and characters. Next comes another novelette, "The Octagon", at 10,000 words or so one of the longest stories I have seen at Jupiter. It's about a future Survivor-like reality show, set on a dangerous alien planet with the predictable twist that the losers don't just get kicked off the island, they die. (This twist goes back decades, of course, at least to stories like "Rollerball Murder" and its derived movie.) David Conyers tells his story well enough, but it's never really new or convincing, and the overly cynical treatment of the characters kept me too much at a distance.

The other two stories are shorter. Rosie Oliver's "Cold Pressure" is a scientific mystery in which the owner of an advanced future ship is swept overboard and finds something odd and remarkable deep under water: a man lost for a long time, protected by an unusual air bubble. I found it a rather slight work, but pleasant enough. "In the Shadows of Hemera", by Will Styler, tells the story of a doomed mission to Pluto from the point of view of the electronic "diary" of one of the lost astronauts. It winds to a mildly unexpected conclusion -- again, a not bad but not terribly novel story.

There is also a nice short poem from G.O. Clark. As I said last time, Jupiter has reached a point where it reliably offers steady stories by newer writers. It's doing what we expect from semi-pro magazines: giving new talent a place to grow. This wasn't the best issue of the magazine, but in style and focus it is pretty representative.

Copyright © 2010 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


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