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Jupiter, Issue 25, July 2009

Jupiter, Issue 25, July 2009
Jupiter
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A review by Rich Horton

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Jupiter's issue XXV is subtitled Erinome. (As ever, these names of obscure Jovian moons make me feel terribly mythologically ignorant!) The feel of the magazine remains constant (Fantasy is welcome, but SF, even slightly old style SF, dominates), but I thought this was even better than the last issue, which I thought pretty good.

That said, the first couple of stories seem a bit half-baked -- if nicely enough executed. Sam Kepfield's "Radio Free" is about a middle-aged disk jockey who was fired for being too critical of the government and who now runs pirate radio stations, with the help of a pretty young woman, while Homeland Security tries to shut him down. The moralizing is a bit too strident, a bit unconvincing, and the ending is flat and implausible, but the characters are well portrayed. "On the Commodore," by Fet Milner, is a strange piece about sailors on a tide-locked world who venture into the darkside ocean. The problem here is that the setup is interesting -- there could be some good stories set here -- but in the event not much really happens.

"The Oracle," by Kate Kelly, features an aging archaeologist who is vouchsafed one last dramatic find in a future where Naples has been destroyed by a new eruption of Vesuvius. A buried chamber seems to have held an oracle, and certainly the excavators are given visions... The explanation is at once more prosaic and more wonderful than if it were a true oracle -- but perhaps it is, as a nice dark twist at the end suggests. Neil Clift's "The Mariner" might take on a bit too much -- an around the world sailing race, an intelligent bee, a terrible plague. It's not bad stuff -- keeps the interest as you read -- but I didn't quite feel the elements cohered.

My favorite story this issue was the closing piece, "Dusting Tycho," by Vera Sepulveda. A Space Navy veteran musters out in Tycho City, a decaying old city on the Moon. Over several days he makes some friends among the older people living there -- but they have advice for him it takes him a while to absorb. It's a quiet, unspectacular, story, but it builds it theme effectively, and in the end I was moved even as I had known all along where the story was going.

Jupiter has reached a point where it reliably offers steady stories by newer writers. It's doing what we expect from semipro magazines: giving new talent a place to grow. These writers are doing enjoyable work now, and we can expect even better from some of them in the future.

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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