JUPITER XI: CARME

Reviewed by Edward St. Boniface

BILLY AND THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL by Peter Tennant

Billy Boone finds an unexpected visitor to be the fulfilment of all his dreams –and nightmares- when the visitor (actually a Rigellian Visitor) simply turns up at his door asking for the simple arrangement of a meeting with the political elite of the planet. However, it turns out not to be quite so easy. A pompous minor government official is convinced by telepathic display, but finds suspiciously rational explanations for the observations of himself and his office in surveillance devices the office is stuffed with. Connections cannot be made and Billy Boone doubts his own sanity in the end until the alien intelligence is taken away. A brilliant twist at the end however punctuates and rather cruelly gives definite shape to what easily could have been Billy's multiple and infectious UFO-obsessional hallucination, and makes the story a subtle, inevitably logical pattern to what at first seems almost a random series of incidents. ET, you'd better go home right this nanosecond...

THE PIONEER'S LAMENT by Mark Ward

A genuinely nasty psychological experiment in the spirit of Frank Herbert's Destination Void afflicts the Mars-bound astronauts on an advance-colonisation flight in this tale, and although the suspense is lessened a bit by the giveaway beginning, the slow progression towards the final realisation of the crew that all is not what it seems has a real sense of horror and misery in it. I'm not sure an organisation like NASA would be quite so ruthlessly Darwinian, but it comes close to plausibility for some kind of out-of-control psychological test case and demonstrates that, in space, the screaming (and retching) is definitely more hellish.

THE STEALING SKY by Alexander Zelenyj

A dreamy, haunted man searches for meaning in the sky in the Canadian arctic in this eerie story, searching for some unknown, intangible extraterrestrial enemy. Zelenyj creates an authentic sense of isolation and mental 'white out' as the unnamed narrator loses his physical and psychic bearings so that the landscape through which he wanders becomes his own labyrinthine mind-trap of distorted memories and blizzards of disrupted fragmentary impressions. Does he really see extraterrestrial craft, aurora effects or is he merely in a trance lying in his survival shack among the cans and detritus that are his only anchor to a reality fast warping around him? And will the oncoming, terrifying primal mother-storm overwhelm his iron will at last?

LEAKY VESSELS, OR ANDROIDS OF THE MIND by Neil K. Henderson

Proton the Android gets all the dirtiest jobs--farming bad-tempered molluscoids and getting ripped apart undersea for his pains in all undignified manners. This is a fun, but somewhat repetitive droid variation on the theme of Diogenes--the slave with more intelligence than his masters forced to endure the continually outrageous and fickle demands of their service. However, despite the bitchy and ironical tone there is not much genuine philosophising or insight; rather a catalogue of mechanical complaints which only come to a vague story. I like Proton but he is like the tiresome guy in the pub or the relative down on their luck with a 'how did I endure my unbelievable suffering' story that never changes. Get an upgrade and move yer chassis on to a better cybercosm, Proton!

PRIMITIVE HUNT, DAY THREE by Monte Davis

Son, Dad, Matty the trusty guide, Ruben and various disposable tribes-things again find themselves squaring up to the xeno-beasties in the latest instalment of the ray-gun safari. I feel Davis missed an opportunity here--the daughter of a local chief is abducted by a peculiarly nasty monster (why do these peoploids live in proximity to such appalling dangers in the first place?) and then never mentioned again--there seems little incentive for Matty to risk her life or those of her clients for a lost cause. It's fun and there are moments of genuine fear, but the boy's own adventure-style charging irresponsibly into other beings' tragedies and perils shooting in every direction and largely worsening the situations they encounter seems selfish and wilfully blind at best. Are there no responsible space rangers or other interplanetary cops to be relied on?

DOGMA by Lee P. Bentley

King Charles II reincarnates as--a King Charles Spaniel, and becomes aware that he was expecting a certain human body and has been astrally shanghaied into that of a pooch. The pooch duly turns up at the intended body's house –the body inconveniently inhabited for its lifetime by another spirit content to stay there- and calmly demands to be adopted. It has a king's will and hauteur of course, and will not brook dissent. What is the hapless narrator to do? And the dog undeniably has style and you can't let quality walk away too easily. This is territory fraught with potential disaster but I found I really enjoyed it. Bentley gets the arrogance of the king-as-dog just right and although the whole situation is absurd, it just about works. There's room for more here and I'd like to read more by this writer!

SMALL TALK by Kristine Ong Muslim

In the shortest and best story in the magazine, an indeterminate omniscience argues bitchily with a companion over the insignificance of humanity as the current universe draws closer to a critical mass-collapse or 'Snap' as the omnibeing calls it. KOM has a marvellous way with words and the cosmically sarcastic tone is incisive, illuminating and has a real sense of sardonic, transcendent vision looking down on the sad pathetic mess that is the human (and organic) condition. It is anecdotal but there is real promise here for a storyteller and novelist of originality and power in a science fiction milieu too often stunted by derivative and long-sterilised ideas. More, please!

The magazine's cover illustration is by Anselmo Alliegro and internal artwork is by Monte Davis.

Jupiter edited by Ian Redman, 19 Bedford Road, Yeovil, Somerset, BA21 4UG, UK. A5, 56pp, £2.50 or £9/4.

Website: - www.jupitersf.co.uk


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