Jupiter XXXV Orthosie
£2.75, £10 for four issues
also available as download PDF and Kindle
Editor: Ian Redman
Another edition of Jupiter, number 35 no less, and a testament to reliability and quality! The magazine is still going strong almost a decade after commencing which proves that it's now part of the establishment. The people behind Jupiter don't make money from the venture and they are certainly not living it up in the Bahamas on the proceeds. They do it simply because they love Science Fiction and are dedicated to the production of good quality stories. Writers do not get paid but getting published in Jupiter is certainly a claim to fame and there is no shortage of willing contributors coming forward. Half a dozen short stories are on offer here. They are certainly worth reading!
The opening piece, Expectant Green by David Conyers and John Kenny, was very well written. The attention of the reader was hooked by the first couple of paragraphs and from then on it was compelling stuff right through to the end of this adventure story. Francesca's youthful spirit had been deflated because her mother's death had forced her to leave home on Mars to join her father on the planet Morrocoy. Not only was this a rather steamy hot world, uncomfortable even on a mild day, the religiously imposed restrictions on technology meant that there wasn't much in the way of entertainment.
Her father was absent minded but focused on alien anthropology. Convinced that there was a form of insect life on the planet, his efforts to find it had been squashed over the years by all manner of setbacks. With his goal in sight, Francesca was being dragged into the jungle. Unfortunately there seemed to be plenty of shady characters on Morrocoy and as luck would have it they became involved in the search. Atmospheric and engaging, this well told story is a delight to read.
Rod Slatter's fiction, Full Scale Invasion, almost took me back to the 1950s. Told from the point of view of a child, it related the events when a flying saucer landed and aliens emerged. Grandad was a bit of a boffin and had all sorts of electronic devices in his basement. He wasn't going to run away. The authorities cordoned off all the area and the battle ensued. Eventually meeting one of their surviving species, something similar to an aphid, they hold an interesting conversation. It's not what they were expecting. Exciting stuff!
The Planetarium by Steve McGarrity was an exceptionally good story. Jocelyn and Rebecca, two sisters with contrasting lifestyles, meet up at a dinner held at an astronomical conference. Everything in Rebecca's life appeared to be successful, smooth and polished whereas Jocelyn was more down-to-earth. With this domestic drama taking place, something else was happening. A supernova!
What made this story was the accuracy of events. Obviously the author knows his astronomy, making everything accurate and believable. A supernova in the galaxy, at least one brightly observable from Earth, is a rare occurrence but what happens if others follow in quick succession? What does this mean? Amidst these events of world shattering importance, people are affected enough to think of their own lives, realising that they are not alone.
The Planetarium's dialogue seemed to flow naturally, making the characters three-dimensional, and the interactions between the various people that cropped up were competently related to the reader. Yes, this was a very good story!
Andrew Fairhurst's "Origin Story, A Day in the Life" continued the theme of females playing leading parts in the stories. Maggie, a busy woman with a young child to care for, is not overly impressed when a door-to-door salesman calls. He isn't the run-of-the-mill salesman but she doesn't seem to notice this. What does he have on offer? Something mind blowing! This is an old-fashioned story with a modern feeling to it, a readable tale with a twist!
Cyndy Edwards Lively's story, Strike, could have been set at any time in history but the setting was a distant planet where the element lithium was mined. Conditions for workers were dreadful as cutbacks were made. Remind you of something? Things began to get so bad that a strike was called but the company wasn't going to take it lying down. Told from the point of view of a young female worker, it is a harrowing story, immediate in its effect and close to reality. It's the hope that future generations will not have to go through such hardships but maybe that's a false hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel here, not a shining light but a light nevertheless. A very effective story with good characterisation and description.
Finally, Golden Dragonfly by Chris Steer. A strange story with a setting which escaped rationalisation, it took the reader to a planet with lifeforms that seemed to be a cross between the mechanical and biological. A sole explorer spends days trying to figure out what was going on. Mechanical creatures, humanoid in form, begin to rot and decay, but seem to be regenerated when the essence of their being is transferred to another body. Strangely, there is a supply of mechanical bodies hanging up in a disused factory.
Almost dreamlike in nature, there's lots of hidden meanings behind the events in Golden Dragonfly. According to the author biographies, this is the first published story from Chris Steer. I certainly don't think it will be the last.
Well, the editor has outdone himself in producing a good magazine packed with outstanding fiction. Seriously, the stories in this issue have a high standard. There's nothing much more you can say about them than that. If you don't take my word for it, why not download a copy to see for yourself. Also, in all the excitement about the fiction, the artwork by Sam Mardon must not be forgotten. He has produced a really fine cover and good luck to his efforts in making an Edgar Allan Poe animated movie.