JUPITER XX: TAYGETE

Reviewed by Terry Grimwood

This is the second time I've been asked to review Jupiter magazine and after the positive experience of the previous issue I was concerned that I might be disappointed this time round. I needn't have worried. Jupiter XX is even better than last time, with a selection of imaginative, well-paced tales and an entertaining, beautifully visceral poem, The Steam–Powered Robot by G O Clark, to round off proceedings. A suitably Golden Age-style Michael J King illustration welcomes you in. Shame it's black and white, although I guess that keeps the price down, which is important. Jupiter has a no-nonsense approach which offers no internal illustration, also a shame, but the writing can be visual enough to compensate.

So, let's get down to the heart of the matter, the stories themselves.

For starters we have a haunting, Bradbury-esque tale of time travel and brief but intense love called The Humming Place by Ralph Greco, Jr. in which a band of scientists from the future reveal a momentous secret to a lonely farmer. Gustavo Bondoni's Pride and Joy reveals the human side of the genetically-modified-super-soldier-concept, moving and ultimately reassuring. George Newberry gives us an epic in a nutshell with Descendance, a riveting, mischievous tale of interstellar war, intelligent machines and love at first sight.

Gareth D Jones' Roadmaker series continues with Roadrider, self-contained enough to be enjoyed--and understood--on its own, but a neat episode in a larger tale. Again, an easy-to-read yarn that hammers along at a cracking pace, it contains a satisfying mix of humour, imagination and a cast of affable characters.

The Day Draws Nigh by Sim Waters is a haunting end-of-time story in which humanity makes one last, desperate attempt at immortality (I think this should have been moved into the closing story position). Following hard on its heels is Neil J Beynon's The Mine in which a rough group of fortune hunters scavenge (presumably) the desert-buried ruins of London.

Yes, I missed a story out; Asymptote by Jens Rushing, Tel's choice. Like so much of the fiction in Jupiter XX, this one is redolent with loss. Asymptote is a powerful tale of despair in which a lonely spacefarer is faced with a terrible decision.

So, once more, a fine collection of stories with hardly a weak moment among them. Jupiter is a surprise, modest in design, somewhat unprepossessing yet a sizzling box of delights.

Jupiter edited by Ian Redman, 19 Bedford Road, Yeovil, Somerset, BA21 4UG. A5 56pp, £2.75 or 4/£10.00

Website: - www.jupitersf.co.uk


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