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Jupiter, Issue 36, April 2012
      Jupiter, Issue 37, July 2012

Jupiter, Issue 36, April 2012
Jupiter, Issue 37, July 2012
Jupiter
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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The moons of Jupiter for the 36th and 37th issues of Jupiter, are Sponde and Kale. Sponde's cover, a robot or someone in space armor, is by Australian writer David Conyers, who is also associated with the Irish magazine Albedo One. Kale's cover, by Sam Mardon, also involves space armor: as a man is shown outside an exploding spaceship. Both enjoyable enough illustrations, and both representative of the somewhat old-fashioned and very much pure SF orientation of the magazine. I thought #36 a fairly ordinary issue, but #37 was one of the better Jupiter issues I've seen.

I'll begin with Sponde, #36, and its most impressive story, "LEAD," by Alexander Hay. LEAD stands for Low Economic Activity Designate, which is to say "low level offenders, the unemployed, the educationally unrealised and selected special interest groups, like ASBOs and unproductive immigrants." LEADs are subject to rounding up for allocation to foreign businesses as cheap labor. The story follows a couple of workers for an organisation rounding up the LEADs as well as some of the LEADs themselves, as a riot breaks out, and the putative lead (no pun intended) character must suppress it. This is over the top satire in classic Galaxy mode, and it's mordantly effective.

The rest of the issue doesn't work as well. That said, Michael Sutherland's "The Photograph" is rather interesting, about a man given custody of a photograph by an old woman, who warns him of the danger of even looking at it. It's a picture of Orthon, a supposed alien visitor described in the George Adamski's book Flying Saucers Have Landed. (A real book, by the way.) Naturally our hero can't resist looking at the book, with consequences viewed rather paradoxically in this story. Greg McColm's "Footprint" is about a science team on Mars, who discover some decidedly unusual "gold moss" and are torn between further investigation and corporate orders to ignore it. The story never quite convinced me, nor did it ignite my sense of wonder. Neal Clift's "The Zenith" is an adventure tale of disaster in an alien ocean, in which the title ship is breached by a dangerous predator. Minor work. Finally, Dean Giles's "The Post-human Condition" deals with a conflict between "normal" humans traveling to Gliese-581 and the AIs and "posthumans" left behind, who may have tried to follow them. An interesting idea, really, but not quite involving enough as presented here.

Issue #37, Kale, opens with "Apples," by Krishan Coupland. This is a post-apocalypse story, with a significant title and a significantly named male protagonist (Adam). (Though the female protagonist is Clare.) It seems that Adam and Clare have been raised alone, and separately, by what appear to be robots of some sort, or artificial people, after "the Shake," which destroyed the Old-Timers world. Adam is harried by the creature he calls Father in the direction of Clare... but when they meet at last things don't click. It's a strange little story, not quite fully satisfying but interesting for defying expectations. Next is Aliya Whiteley's "Midnight, Midnight," a brief piece about an alien working in a convenience store, in support of his people's plan... but not happy in his role. It's not a great story, but it does effectively portray the ground down state of both the alien worker and his addicted customers.

Douglas Thompson's "Centauri" works a familiar vein -- Earth-based explorers investigating mysterious structures on an alien planet. In this case the explorers are women, sent there by a teleportation system that (analogous to Algis Budrys's Rogue Moon) sends a sort of copy. The results -- the aliens they meet, and the consequent misunderstandings -- aren't much new, but the telling, and the alternation between the explorers point of view and that of the mission leader, is well enough done. "Avert," by Chris Bailey, opens with a man meeting himself. An interesting enough beginning, though the story doesn't really work with the questions of identity that implies. Instead, we learn that this man is an astronaut. The future he lives in involves a successfully colonized Solar System -- and indeed, he's based on Mars, where his Argentinian fellows are making the planet livable. His story is that he was recruited to take an experimental ship to the edge of the Solar System. And there he stopped, and came back. And, it turns out, came back again. It seems humans have been confined in the Solar System. It's an old idea (again) but Bailey's reasons are at least slightly different than usual, and the denouement resolves the effects of that confinement sensibly. Finally, Jack Ford's "The Blog of Revelations" is a somewhat snarky story about a blogger who somehow becomes a religious figure to aliens, who invade Earth and promise to set him up as ruler. Kind of a "be careful what you wish for" piece -- what if we really acted on the off the cuff complaints of a typical blogger? As such, it's kind of weak tea.

Copyright © 2012 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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