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Jupiter, Issue 32, April 2011

Jupiter, Issue 32, April 2011
Jupiter
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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Another solid issue for Jupiter. The thirty-second issue is subtitled Eurydome, as ever after a moon of Jupiter. This episode, besides the usual list of 5 stories, features 3 poems, 2 by veteran SF poet G.O. Clark, and one by Chris Oliver. Each is readable, a bit clever, thoughtful -- and, like almost every SF poem I've read, fairly negligible as to the holy fire of great poetry.

The stories are on the whole a solid bunch, as I said, but as with the last issue I reviewed here, a bit short of outstanding. Rod Slatter's "A Binary Form" opens the issue. It's a planetary exploration story, with a fairly typical mismatched duo of main characters: a sexist but somewhat competent rich man, and the hard-bitten, somewhat cynical, xenoplanetoligist he has hired. They end up in trouble -- but also on the verge of an amazing discovery. There are no surprises here, but the story is decent entertainment. D. J. Swatski's "Spider Dreams" isn't as good -- it tells of a woman being treated for arachnophobia by induced dreams, with AI help, that send her into a world of giant spiders. The central idea was OK if rather trivial, but the working out didn't really hold the interest, and the story has a half-jokey coda that simply clanked for me.

Perhaps the most interesting piece is "Guardian Angel," by C.J. Paget. This concerns Agnes, a young woman living alone with her grandmother, in a dead end sort of life, who thinks she's going mad because she hears a voice in her head. We soon learn that the voice is real, coming from a woman in orbit, who has access to advanced technology that can, for example, cure cancer -- and who has a surprising history, and a surprising job -- and a special reason to contact Agnes. Agnes and Tanirt (the woman in orbit) are nicely realized characters, and the story behind Tanirt is fairly interesting. Steve McGarrity's "I, Human," concerns a woman recruited into an "animal liberation" group -- with the goal of liberating extraterrestrial animals from an Earth zoo. But of course the alien beings have their own surprises... not a bad concept, and not a bad story, but a bit off focus to me. Finally, "Product Placement," by Nicola Caines, is a satirical story about a food company including tiny robots as a premium in cereal packages. But what if the robots don't want to just be toys? OK stuff, but a bit underdeveloped.

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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