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Jupiter, Issue 28, April 2010 / Issue 29, July 2010

Jupiter, Issue 28, April 2010
Jupiter, Issue 29, July 2010
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

So here are the two latest issues of the nice British pure SF magazine Jupiter. Issue XXVIII is subtitled Autonoe and XXIX is subtitled Thyone. I wonder what the subtitles will be in the happy event that Jupiter publishes more than 63 issues. Assuming no further moons of Jupiter (the planet) have been discovered by then, perhaps editor Ian Redman will turn to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids?

I think the April issue, Autonoe (XXVIII), is one of the strongest numbers of this magazine to date. There are four stories. The first and last have some neat central ideas, but don't quite work. Timothy Miller's "The Colour Seven" uses the language of fantasy to tell what ultimately appears to be an SF story. It has a YA feel, featuring a young "aspirant," Avery, who is not very good at the traditional quasi-magical methods of attacking the alien thorazine who menace his city (and world). But it turns out Avery has a special talent... well, we've seen this before. I liked the setup, and the different feel to the story, but felt the working out was only too routine. And, though this may be nitpicking, I was bothered by prose details such as using the word "magi" as singular. Gary Budgen's "Clown in Apus" is odder. Its central character is a cynical journalist, covering a scientific event, the creation of a new universe, that for some reason is being staged at a zoo. But things go pear-shaped, and it seems that all the people at the zoo are somehow trapped inside something -- perhaps the new universe -- which does strange things to time. This is a pretty interesting idea, and the characters -- the journalist, a woman he'd long been attracted to, a man who tries to take charge once the situation is clear -- are pretty well handled as well. But the (admittedly tricky) scientific idea at the heart of the story never quite convinced me, and the plot of the story ends up just petering out, not quite satisfying. But for all that a good effort.

The other two stories worked much better all the way through. Simon Kewin's "22nd Century Genie" concerns Simms, a man who searches for authentic DNA samples of famous people, so that his clients can clone them. Apparently this is illegal, and the clones have lots of problems, and indeed Simms' ex-wife runs a "Refuge" for damaged clones. Simms' latest assignment is to retrieve the DNA of The Beatles -- and in the way of such stories, his ex turns up as well, with a secret. Promising enough material, then Kewin twists things rather unexpectedly at the end -- I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with the direction the story took, but it is original and quite moving. Finally, Ian Sales's "A Cold Dish" is not as original, nor as moving, but it's a fun pure SF piece, a story of old wars and revenge in the moons of Saturn, with alien artefacts thrown in.

The July issue, Thyone (XXIX), had some nice stuff as well -- taken as a whole, it's as good an issue as Autonoe. Rosie Oliver opens with "Agents of Repai,r, another story set in the moons of the outer Solar System, this time Jupiter's moon Callisto. The story is old from the point of view of a repair AI, who comes to realize that another AI on the moon has gone rogue, and is attempting to kill the human colony. The "good" AI tries desperately to counter the rogue, and to attract the attention of some humans to help. Decent adventure, and a nice dark conclusion. The next piece, "Hybrid" by Emma Knight, is a first sale. It has an intriguing central idea: a post-human creature of some sort has become obsessed with his mental contact with a 21st Century woman. Knight does a good job of slowly letting us realize how odd her main character is, though the story doesn't quite sell its conclusion.

Mike Wood's "The Bottle Garden" is about Kyra, a girl of a decaying aristocratic family who is in love with an energetic lower class man. Her mother is against any such match, despite their dwindling fortunes. When radical economic change comes, how will Kyra react? Or her putative lover? Potentially worthwhile elements never quite cohered for me in this one. "Oil on Canvas" by Nigel Fisher is a quiet story in which a human artist encounters an artist of a mysterious alien race, one that for some reason did not join the Union of Seven, an alliance of the other seven known races (humans included). The theme of the story is simple enough, readily guessed: can two artists find understanding when diplomats couldn't? It works OK, though not brilliantly -- for one thing, I'd have liked the alien (and in particular its art) to be more alien; for another, I thought the moral painted a little too overtly. The last story is "The Earth Beneath My Feet," by James Lecky. As Earth decays, people with strong psi powers are recruited to use their mental abilities to explore different planets, looking for a like colony planet. Alas, the planets they find are hopeless, and the travel tends to drive the mental astronauts insane. Two of these people are recruited for a desperate long distance journey, despite the terrible risk to them. It's nicely done, and ends with on a quiet and effectively sad note.

Jupiter remains a consistent little magazine, as I've said before. Working in mostly traditional SF forms, the stories these two issues are a mix of pretty solid pieces with some that fail but in a promising way (particularly as some of the weaker stories are by new writers). Worth a look.

Copyright © 2010 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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