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Jupiter, Issue 23, January 2009

Jupiter, Issue 23, January 2009
Jupiter
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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Jupiter's first 2009 issue is subtitled Kalyke, as always after one of the big planet's moons. The magazine continues much as before, all science fiction, mostly fairly unassuming readable work. As I've said before, there is a certain old-fashioned feel to the ideas behind many of the stories, not always a bad thing, though on occasion here I did feel too strongly that I'd seen all this before.

Let's go story by story. Lee Moan's "The Weight of Shadows" tells of a young woman from Earth who has gone to another planet to care for children orphaned by an ongoing war between the "watusi" and the "rifiri", rival races of aliens. The woman's efforts are noble, and the resolution, based on the meaning of the "shadows" of the title, is intriguing, but I admit I wondered why humans were needed to run orphanages ... Not a bad story, but not enough here is really new. In Huw Langridge's "The Darken Loop" a group of freelance scientists is urged by an AI to make use of an unexpected means of a sort of time travel to save the girlfriend of one of them. As with many time travel stories, paradoxes are a bit of a problem, not too badly navigated here. Interesting work, on the whole.

"Thicker than Water" by Ian Sales is set on a now nearly isolated colony on Saturn's moon Tethys. They are at war with Titan, prompted mostly by the dire situations in the outer planets. Major Gina Priest is involved in the capture and interrogation of two soldiers from Titan, and then she learns something shocking about her own past. I was not really convinced in this case, either by the motivations of anyone involved, nor by the potentially interesting conclusion, which is not sufficiently a part of the rest of the story. "The Rule of Law" by Elaine Graham-Leigh might be the best story here. Earth in the future has been ruled by a sort of new Roman Empire, and has also been allied with the Gargarin, aliens who are at war with the Chi!me. All this is forced to a change when the Gargarin decide to surrender, much to the distaste of a particular Gargarin who comes to Marcella, this story's protagonist, with a proposition. Her reaction is all about realpolitik, and it's quite interesting, but I felt the story a bit unfinished.

"Notes from the Apocalypse," by Michael Pepper, is not surprisingly a post-apocalyptic tale, and again I really felt it too familiar. There just wasn't enough new in this story of a small band of survivors dealing with the lawless times after the world ends. And the conclusion simply failed to make me believe it. The final story is a short-short by John Rogers, "The Bridge of the Compass Rose", an effective portrayal of an old space captain's reaction to the imminent scrapping of his old ship -- at only 500 words not a lot happens, and again not much really new, but it's a nice 500 words.

Copyright © 2009 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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