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Jupiter, Issue 20, April 2008
      Jupiter, Issue 21, July 2008

Jupiter, Issue 20, April 2008
Jupiter, Issue 21, July 2008
Jupiter
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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Continuing my review project of Jupiter -- these two issues make four in a row for me to be reviewed here, an entire year. So I begin to get a real sense of the nature of the magazine. It's a distinctly Science Fiction-oriented publication, and moreover, the SF featured tends to have a slightly old-fashioned feel. As with many small press publications, the stories are generally short -- I've only seen one story over 10,000 words so far. The presentation is simple -- fairly low budget -- but clean and attractive. As a special feature for the fifth anniversary, issue XXI has a color cover, and rather a nice one, by Jesse Speak. (I also enjoyed the black and white cover for XX, by Michael King.) There is typically one poem per issue, and very occasionally another feature -- but mostly we're talking lots of fiction. I've also figured out the names given to the issues: XX is called Taygete, and XXI Chaldene. Someone more alert than I would probably have picked this up right away, but I had to resort to Google: these are the moons of Jupiter, in numerical order. I hope this means we can expect at least 63 issues of this magazine! (And perhaps by then, 10 years or so down the line, enough more moons will have been discovered to continue Jupiter's run.)

A continuing series of stories that I've enjoyed is by Gareth D. Jones, about the effect of an automated road-building machine that was accidentally (it seems) activated in an apparent post-holocaust type of world. The third and fourth stories appear in these two issues: "Roadrider" and "Roadruler." In "Roadrider" some adventurous men discover the source of the machine, as the links between various cities are enhanced. And in "Roadruler" a political dimension is introduced, as the potential abuses of the road use system are lightly touched on; as well as the stresses of uniting several villages under a single ruler. These remain enjoyable, but they have become a bit sketchy, and not quite unified enough as stories.

In issue XX I also enjoyed Ralph Greco, Jr.'s "The Humming Place," in which a simple farmer meets visitors from the future; Gustavo Bondoni's "Pride and Joy," in which a woman tries to find the baby taken away from her by a government trying to fight a war; and George Newberry's "Descendance," about an AI that had been running a ship trying to reintegrate into society after the war is over. I didn't find the other stories as successful: Jens Rushing's "Asymptote" is a brief piece about a man who seems to have ruined his relationship with his best friends: a man and a woman, and the disastrous space flight that result; Sim Waters's "The Day Draws Nigh" is a fairly familiar depiction of the end of the universe; and Neil J. Bynon's "The Mine" has a group of speculators trying to find buried treasure in the ruins of (apparently) our civilization.

Issue XXI was highlighted by James Lecky's "Deepest Black," about a person who was apparently created by a corporation for special purposes, and who has tried to come to terms with his alienating but also potentially transcendent abilities over the years; and by Mike Wood's "Fred and Ginger," a sweet story about a man pursuing a lost love across worlds and time dilation issues. Terry Grimwood's "Epeius's Egg" concerns seductively attractive mysterious eggs offered for sale -- the resolution is fairly well done but quite predictable. And Christopher Lockhart, in "The Big Picture," tells of a soldier marooned on a disputed planet, who never realizes what we learn about his nature.

As I've said before, the unifying characteristic of the stories in Jupiter is a certain old-fashioned attitude -- the plots and the science fictional ides seem redolent of the 50s fairly often. (Only Lecky's "Deepest Black" has a 2008 feel to me.) But this isn't always bad -- the best of these stories, though never quite outstanding, are sound entertainment.

Copyright © 2008 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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