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Jupiter, Issue 22, October 2008

Jupiter, Issue 22, October 2008
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

Here's the fourth issue of Jupiter for 2008. It maintains a regular quarterly schedule, very impressive for a small press 'zine. This issue is subtitled Harpalyke, as usual after one of Jupiter's many moons.

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. "Roadbuilder" is the final story in the series. It rather discursively investigates the potential fallout of discovering and reactivating the control center for the road-building machines. It's pleasant work, clearly a summing up effort.

Geoff Nelder's "Gravity's Tears" has a young couple driving in remote Western Canada when all of a sudden an horrific meteorite shower occurs. It seems that something -- an alien spaceship? -- has disrupted the Perseid swarm so that instead of meteors burning up in the atmosphere, pebble-sized meteorites are reaching the ground. I'm not sure I buy the science, but it must be said that Nelder's real interest was in the reaction of the characters to the crisis. And I'm not entirely sure I was convinced by that either. Lawrence Dagstine's "A Virtual Affair" was a bit more successful -- also a love story, here about an entirely virtual man who falls in love with a woman, and how their love affair proceeded. The idea is interesting (if again far from believable), and it's worked out rather nicely.

Simon Petrie's "M. R. E." is an amusing mordant piece about aliens who abduct humans for food, and about the attempt of a young man to rescue his girlfriend from them. Carmelo Rafala's "Boxboy" is a darker story about a mutant child with telekinetic powers. The authorities are trying to harness them, and he cooperates in order to please the woman doctor with whom he has bonded. But when another doctor pushes him... Rafala resolves things starkly and logically. Finally, "Requiem for a Butterfly" by David Vickery tells of a time traveler who defies the rules against altering the past when he travels back to the 14th Century and feeds and cures a peasant family as well as encouraging rebellious thoughts against feudalism. I didn't quite buy the characters -- period authentic they're not, I'd say -- but I thought the ending clever, and the central idea was at least worth examining.

I've said repeatedly that the unifying characteristic of the stories in Jupiter is a certain old-fashioned attitude -- the plots and the science fictional ideas are consistently fairly familiar. (As here, with stories echoing at some remove "Day Million", "To Serve Man", and Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series.) And I reiterate, that while I wouldn't want such stories to be the only ones I read, I'm happy enough to have them part of my SF reading menu.

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

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