JUPITER VIII: PASIPHAE

Reviewed by Liza Granville

This is a great little magazine, a nice size for reading on long journeys, and Ian Redman deserves congratulations for taking it into its third year of existence. On the whole there's a good selection of work in this edition, with a couple of excellent illustrations, though I must admit to finding the quality of the stories uneven and was a little irritated by frequent editing blips.

The first story, Holy Pictures, is well written with distinctive characters and a very visual quality. Unseen and very wise indigenous beings on newly settled planet is a well-worn theme but Nicola Caines gives it a new twist with her exploration of the power of imagination. My main criticism is that the protagonist is far too 'knowing' for a child. A good read, though. Recommended.

Gustavo Bondoni's Tenth Orbit is an absolute cracker. This is an excellent story, very effective, narrated by something chillingly alien and by that I don't mean humanoid with rearranged features. It's a little repetitive perhaps, but this is consistent with the subject matter. I look forward to seeing more from this author.

Life Sentence is well plotted and beautifully written, a really good multi-layered SF yarn with excellent characterisation. I was impressed by the way Rosie Oliver used personal issues within the narrative. My only criticism--and maybe this isn't justified--is with the issue of the mathematicians' memories filling up. This reduced me to helpless mirth and which I'm sure wasn't intended.

Now for The Other Ruth, by W. R. Mitchell... hmm... potentially a good story, but I think this needs more work. In such a tale it is important to establish believability from the word go, and at this point it failed on lack of background research. The conversations between doctor and patient do not ring true. Brain tumour is never an expression used in this situation. Trust me. I know. This may seem trivial, but if the reader is not convinced at this stage, she/he certainly won't be when it gets to the world standing still for a conversation between the narrator and a being from the far future.

The Midnight Orchestra, by Guy T Martland, is a fascinating story, original and very well thought out. A little editing would have improved the story and made it flow better. There are some odd turns of phrase that jar--'soon the episode washed away with the sands of time' for example, and there is over use of 'which'. Having said that, I genuinely look forward to seeing more work from this author.

Neil Ayres' Remembrance impressed me. This quiet and simply written story is utterly convincing, offering a chilling glimpse of what the future might well hold. The narrative is perfect in its restraint. Underneath lies a very strong emotional charge. I read this story first, and have reread it several times. It haunts me. With its filmic qualities, I really feel that this could--and probably should - be expanded into a larger work. Highly recommended.

Cockroach Summer, by David Turnbull, is a very enjoyable read. It's a straightforward 'proper' story with a most unpleasant, highly satisfying ending. Excellent characterisation--Dad, with his forced optimism, is particularly memorable. Little Ben is most alarming. Good dialogue... and that bloody click-clack refrain is very apt. Superb ending.

It's easy to shy away from commenting on poetry. I'm going to make myself unpopular instead. Poetry is not an interesting concept laid out in a 'poetic' form. Generally speaking, it is a distillation of ideas. I think that some of the works presented as poetry in this issue are simply ultra short pieces of prose. Does it matter? Perhaps not, but however we label them, I don't think they measured up to the fiction.

Exhibit is clever, but is little more than a list; the other work--Suspended - by Aurelio Rico Lopez III is more interesting, but might have been more interesting still if written as a short descriptive paragraph.

Escena Gira does nothing at all for me though I note that J. Stern has been well published and won a prize some years ago. To me this springs from the school of cutting up random texts/words and rearranging them on the page in no particular order. Perhaps I simply don't get it.

The piece Beyond Ultraviolet, by Kristine Ong Muslim, stands out from the rest. It's a little clumsy in places--could do with a final polish--but is generally pleasing and raises interesting questions about our own selective vision. Her other pieces--D-108, Silicon Gods, Numerical Solution Methods of Finite Space--need more work. Some of the lines are clumsily written and jar. Overall there's a need to pare down and look at the flow of words. Reading the poems aloud might help.

As I said at the beginning, a good magazine and in spite of my criticisms I enjoyed it immensely. Long may it continue.

Jupiter edited by Ian Redman, 23 College Green, Yeovil, Somerset, BA21 4JR, UK. A5, 56pp, £2.50 or £9/4.

Website: - www.jupitersf.co.uk


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