JUPITER XV: ADRASTEA

Reviewed by Sue Phillips

Jupiter is a nicely turned out small press magazine dedicated to science fiction. Fiction, poetry and reviews are generally considered for publication. Items are usually brief due to the limited space available, but the rule has been stretched slightly to accommodate Spaceflight by Tyler Keevil, which is 12500 words. This was a good move. The narrative is well crafted and moving. The title, apparently uninspired, fits well with the subject matter, although the piece deserved something with more panache. “Space” is a dimension accessed by travelling close to a black hole. It is outside of the reality we are accustomed to and where electronic technology is useless. Vessels that traverse it must be carried along by the strength of the pilot's will and nothing else. This was a neat idea that might have the makings of a full-length novel.

The tale that follows, by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith, has a far more imaginative title - The Cross Gendered Horse with Wings - but little else to compare as regards quality. The plot revolves around an injured young winged horse that has (inexplicably) been brought to a successful stud farm for treatment to injured legs. The owner, attractive and female, acknowledges that the animal is male; but treats it as female and calls it Peggy (short for Pegasus, itself a male name). This appears to be the only factor to support the story's title. The colt's wings were the result of a secret US government experiment, although I may have misconstrued this--the plot confused me in places, as did the reason for its existence. I read some parts with a vision in my head of infectious laughter as text was worked on. I would like to have joined in; but the humour, if such it was, didn't quite work for me. The poignant ending did.

Living Amongst the Lizards by Lawrence R. Dagstine begins almost lyrically with lovely descriptions and a style that engages the reader at once. The story takes place on a planet where the survivor of a spaceship crash must live out his days alone under alien skies. It would have worked rather better had the author been a little more aware of the nutritional needs of the human body as he seems to think the only requirement is meat. A pity, because apart from this, the story was quite good.

Skinz by Michael Sutherland painted a dark picture of life where extra terrestrial “cuckoos” were placed with families to be brought up by surrogate parents unaware of their situation. As with the bird, siblings were disposed of so that the parents' entire focus would be on the impostor. Who, though, was the real impostor? The protagonists were never what they seemed and the plot unfolded with several neat twists. A well formulated theme that carried through to an engaging conclusion.

Perhaps inspired by the film Starship Troopers, the very brief Dogstar Three by Christopher DJC Racknor had a clear anti war theme tempered by a world-weary understanding that this would never be allowed license by the powers in control.

Jim Steel's Orion Rising is an elegantly crafted piece separated into sections numbered phonetically--Won, Too, Tree and so on. It concerns a hunter who becomes the prey, but refuses to give in without a fight. I liked this last story as much as the first. Everything worked and was as believable as true fiction should be.

All in all Jupiter #15 is definitely worth the cover price with the excellent far outweighing the less than perfect.

Jupiter edited by Ian Redman, 19 Bedford Road, Yeovil, Somerset, BA21 4UG, UK. A5, 56pp, £2.75 or £10/4.

Website: - www.jupitersf.co.uk


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