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Jupiter # 27: SF Magazine January 2010: Jupiter XXVII: Praxidike

01/02/2010. 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). 4.99 PDF for 4 issues (requires 1.5mb in mailbox).

Ian Redman and the editorial team at 'Jupiter Magazine' are a right miserable bunch! Here I am, stuck in the middle of a winter of snow, ice, sleet and rain wishing for something to bash about as a release for my SAD feelings and they've given me nothing to complain about! In fact, quite the opposite. 'Jupiter 27' is a very good read and continues the tradition of substance and quality set by previous editions of the magazine.

First of all, the cover artwork by Paul Drummond is quite evocative. Here we have a young female backpacker going through a Stargate device into another world, an unknown planet of excitement and anticipation. What lies beyond? In a way, this is an entry into the magazine itself. On reading the pages, you are taken to strange new worlds.

The first story is certainly strange. 'Bone Song' by Garrick Fincham begins with a journey. Two entities travel to a planet and then we are taken to an underground hive where humans are nurtured by maternal three-limbed robotic creatures. As the story progresses we find that these humans, while acting emotionally as humans, are somewhat different and have been reared for a purpose.

The stasis is broken when one of them decides to venture outside. He finds a cold wasteland (something similar to Britain in early January 2010) and accompanied by his maternal robot, the future is open to him. What is his purpose?

We then arrive at 'Unlikely Messiah' by WR Mitchell who comes from Wishaw in Scotland. (Wishaw a market town? The contributor description stretches my imagination a little and I'm a Scotsman). Regardless, this is an excellent story, one I really enjoyed from start to finish. It tells the tale of an unfortunate interstellar trader by the name of Fung, his deceased companion and the ship's computer. Falling into a wormhole, they are propelled to a planet 10 times farther out into the galaxy than humans have ever travelled before. His spaceship crashes and the injuries sustained will kill him in a couple of hours.

On this planet of snapping, crawling and biting things he is saved by what could only be described as civilised telepathic werewolves. As he tries to repair the ship, Fung develops a relationship with these beings and even begins to like one of them, a youngster nicknamed Ted. He is invited to their village, engaging in a fine repast of vegetarian stew. Then, on the outskirts of the village, he sees things that maybe he shouldn't have seen. Later, he observes the eyes of the werewolves turn red. Bloody hell! I must say, you couldn't ask for better descriptions and dialogue! Very well told!

A good point about 'Jupiter' is that you often get a series of stories running through the magazine, the 'Roadrunner' stories coming to mind. This issue sees the welcome return of The Axiom Few in a story called 'The Voidant Lance' written by Hew Langridge. Come on, Channel 4, there's a series waiting to be made here.

The setting is London in the year 2057. Archer, Geek and the gang discover that an alien device is on its way to crash into the Earth resulting in an apocalypse which would devastate the planet and cause billions of deaths. They have a plan which involves shifting everyone on Earth a little bit into the future but Archer's son, Lloyd, arrives on the scene and tries to stop them. Quite badly disfigured by genetic mishaps, the boy has a warning to deliver. Curiously, the arrival of a son he did not know he had helps Archer to come to terms with the problems he has with his own father.

Delving into the plot in greater detail would be a spoiler. Take it from me, this is an electric story and to the editor, make sure you get more of the Axiom Few in the future!

'Swimming In the FastWarm Current' from Lee Russell is a story about Spinner the Dolphin. He's a bit of a rebel and likes to swim out on his own. The colony of dolphins act like humans and even have conversations which I presume are telepathic in nature. Dangers lurk in the form of great white sharks but there are also warm waters near the shore where unusual things seem to happen.

Against the wishes of the group's leader, Spinner decides to explore the coastal waters. He finds something unusual and he'll never be the same. An engaging story, swimmingly good!

Four stories all with merit making it difficult to choose a favourite which is a plus rather than a minus. Maybe the next issue of 'Jupiter' will give me more to complain about but considering it will be springtime by then, it will probably be just the same old excellent review as usual.

Rod MacDonald

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