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Jupiter, Issue 27, January 2010

Jupiter, Issue 27, January 2010
Jupiter
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A review by Rich Horton

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Jupiter's issue XXVII is subtitled Praxidike. I only mention that because I'm always delighted to be introduced to another moon of Jupiter. My consistent theme in these reviews is the generally "old-fashioned" feel of this magazine, which I think continues here, perhaps even could be emphasized.

For example, "Unlikely Messiah," by W.T. Mitchell, notable first for being one of the longest stories, perhaps the longest, Jupiter has ever published. (Let me note first that I am all for this magazine -- or any! -- publishing more stories of greater length, while issuing a caveat that this particular story probably would have benefited by being cut.) The setup is very familiar -- a spaceship has crashlanded on an alien planet. The survivor is saved by the supposedly primitive natives. The kicker is that the natives look like werewolves (or "Werwulfs", as spelled here). This leads to a sort of biological mystery, that is resolved in OK fashion. As I hinted, it might have worked better overall if shorter -- the mystery at the heart of things just doesn't support a novelette of this size.

Huw Langridge offers "The Voidant Lance," one of a series of stories he's written about a shadowy organization called Axiom Few. In this piece the hero, Archer, along with his fellows at Axiom Few, must defend Earth against an attack from space. It's decent enough work, but nothing spectacular. Lee Russell's "Swimming in the FastWarm Current" is rather nice, if again fairly conventional. The hero, Spinner, is a dolphin-like creature, placed in opposition to an older male who insists they need to stay out of the title current. But Spinner falls under the spell of a mysterious older creature, and in the end realizes a rather different destiny. The revealed history is enjoyable. Similar, in some ways, is "Bone Song," by Garrett Fincham, probably my favorite story this issue. Much as with Russell's story, the hero is an iconoclastic young male, in love with a potentially similarly iconoclastic young female. This hero, Wember, is part of a society on another planet that for generations has been building chambers for colonization by others of their species. But these colonists have not appeared. Wember rebels against the leader of this effort, and is rewarded by banishment. But in his banishment he learns his real destiny. What I particularly liked here was the revelation of the real nature of Wember's species -- something nicely unexpected.

Jupiter remains a consistent little magazine. A good source of generally old-fashioned science fiction, and a good place to see writers at the beginning of their careers. The stories aren't always as well-written as I could prefer -- but that's what you expect with such new writers. These aren't potential award nominees just yet, but they are doing entertaining work and may improve to really excite us.

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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