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Jupiter, Issue 30, October 2010

Jupiter, Issue 30, October 2010
Jupiter
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A review by Rich Horton

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Jupiter's thirtieth issue is subtitled Hermippe, as ever after a moon of Jupiter. I have wondered for some time what the subtitles will be in the happy event that Jupiter publishes more than 63 issues (currently the known number of the planet's moons). In his editorial this month, Ian Redman reveals something I hadn't known: the last thirteen moons have yet to be named, so that Issue LI might need to be called S/2000 JII. Perhaps they will get their names in the next five years!

I thought the previous two issues of the magazine among the strongest in its tenure. Alas, this issue doesn't work as well. It features four stories, plus four linked sonnets. The sonnets are by Ian Sales, and are collectively entitled "Jupiter Quartet," with the individual poems named for the Galilean satellites. They are the most interesting pieces in the issue. Some play with the classical sources of the names of the moons, or with the moons' physical natures, or refer to other mythical systems.

As for the stories, they are generally decent, but none stood out for me. I thought David Conyers's "The Uncertainty Bridge" the most intriguing, but I don't feel it quite managed to work. It's about a young man in a plague-riven area whose sister is the latest to take ill. Somehow he survives, though, only to learn a terrible secret behind the plague, and his resistance. Louis B. Shalako's "The Stud Farm" takes on an idea that's been examined before: aliens have conquered Earth, and humans are kept by them as riding animals -- very much like horses. Compare, for example, Carol Emshwiller's Philip K. Dick Award-winner The Mount (2002). In this story the main character is an adolescent, and the story, somewhat predictably, shows his first experience with one of his responsibilities, signaled by the title. We also get a brief picture of the alien-dominated society he lives in. It's not bad work, but not particularly special, either.

"Stippleback", by Colin P. Davies, tells of the attempt at revenge of the one survivor of a group of aliens who have been exterminated by an oppressive human ruler. His encounter with a helpful human changes his attitudes slightly. This is one of those pieces that I think would work better as part of a larger story. Finally, Jude Coulter-Pultz offers "No Man's Land," about an expedition investigating the disappearance of colonists from an alien planet. Could it be that there were unexpected local sentients? The setup is interesting, and the resolution cynically promising, but the execution of the story simply failed to convince me.

Copyright © 2011 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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