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Jupiter # 22: SF Magazine October 2008 aka Jupiter 4 XXII: Harpalyke

01/11/2008. Contributed by Rod MacDonald

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pub: Ian Redman, 19 Bedford Road, Yeovil, Somerset BA21 5UG, UK. 56 A5 magazine. ISSN: 1740-2069. Price: £ 2.75 plus postage (UK).

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The 22nd issue of Jupiter arrived with six short stories, all of a good standard with plenty of variation. Now that the autumn chill with wind and rain has descended (unless you're one of the lucky sods on the southern hemisphere) to dampen our mood, this magazine is a good prescription to keep SAD at bay.

We kicked off with 'Gravity's Tears' by Geoff Nelder. This was hilarious to say the least. Written in a fast tempo, there was a compelling urge to turn the pages to see exactly what predicament Emma and Quill would end up in next. This hapless couple, driving in the countryside somewhere near Winnipeg, are assaulted by what seems to be meteors from the August night sky.

Commencing with erratic driving plus a caravan that bounces around and threatens to pull them off the road, matters get worse when an object, possibly from a UFO, makes a hole through their Dodge. If that wasn't enough, some other poor individual becomes entangled in their misfortune, gas tanks explode and people are injured. While this doesn't sound funny, in the context of the story it undoubtedly becomes somewhat farcical. A story to enjoy.

Girl meets boy is the theme of 'A Virtual Affair' by Lawrence Dagstine. Set in the 25th century at a party on an orbital station, we soon begin to realise that maybe these people are not as real as they should be. Then again, it's quite possible that the same could be said for their society. Everything seems to go well with the affair until it comes to procreation and the apparent impossibility of creating children in such circumstances.

Initially I thought this story was a bit twee but it became more interesting and thought-provoking. Although slightly sad in conclusion, it seemed to be a sensitive story, well-written at that. The fact that the girl eventually finds solace is reassuring.

Gareth D. Jones' road stories have eventually run their course with 'Roadbuilder', the last of the five part series. I'll try not to make any puns about transport, which is difficult, but it has been an excellent journey. The people of this quaint land get to grips with computer technology in order to control the road-making machine. Whatever happened to make this a post-apocalypse world we don't really know but the machine has acted to connect disparate communities, strengthening society and advancing communication. However, one wonders how long will be before double yellow lines are painted along the new roads and parking wardens make an appearance?

Über-Professor Schlurpmftxpftpfl is a tentacled alien with a taste for human flesh and Vic is an earthling computer nerd whose girlfriend has been abducted. 'M. R. E.' by Simon Petrie is an absolute hoot, a very easy to read and amusing story. Somewhat reminiscent of 'Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy', the antics of both the alien and the boy make for an enjoyable story, my favourite of the issue. Your burger in a bun will never be the same again!

Two other good stories make up this first-rate issue. 'Jupiter' magazine seems to be getting better and better and I'm sure that with good quality fiction like this, its circulation must be getting larger. In a time of economic crisis, many magazines will go to the wall and only the best will survive. 'Jupiter' hopefully will be one of the latter.

Rod MacDonald

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