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Jupiter XXIII: Kalyke by Ian Redman
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Jupiter XXIII: Kalyke

by Ian Redman

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Jupiter is a small UK science fiction magazine which is around for more than 5 years - no advertisements, no glossy covers (short of the anniversary issue last year) - the cover actually looks like the pages of magazine itself - black and white and on the same paper (and even like this with impressive covers), stapled and so on. It's the last magazine you would think to be professional and you would be wrong. And honestly - I like it just as it is.

Every issue has a separate title - one of the moons of Jupiter with the numbering of the issues being the same as the number of the moon which is used as a name. (What will Mr Redman do when there are no more moons names to be used? Last time I checked there were only 63 which means that in 10 years either the astronomers should find another one or the naming convention should be changed.) The current one is Kalyke also known as Jupiter XXIII.

The first issue for 2009 contains 6 stories and as in any issue there is none that can be defined as anything different from Science Fiction.

The issue opens with 'The Weight of Shadows' by Lee Moan where a young woman, Ellie Parker, is keeping an orphanage on the Saturn's moon Janus. The children there belong to one of the tribes - watusi and the world around them is in the middle of a civil war. The back story of the world and of Miss Ellie is shown in all possible ways - and even when it is in the middle of the real story, it does not disturb or bore. And the children of Janus, although different, are still children and the choices everyone makes have their consequences. And some of them can be deadly. The end of the story could be considered expected from some of the earlier actions but the story could have gone in any way. I, for one, loved the way it ended.

And from Janus, we move to the London of 2052 with 'The Darken Loop' by Huw Langridge. The story starts with a very mundane setting of a young woman arriving with a train on the London Waterloo station and going to a job interview (and I actually smiled at it - the second part of last week, I was catching a train at the very same station every morning) and decides to make a detour and get herself a coffee. And with this introduction, we head up for the real story - a conscious AI, time travel(in a way) and parallel worlds. Add to this love and betrayal and it starts to shape up. Beautifully crafted, all the way to the end which repeats the beginning... or does it?

And after London, we return back to the Saturn moons in 'Thicker Than Water' by Ian Sales - except that this time it is Thetys. Gina is the commanding officer of the people that guard the moon and her crew captures a pair of Titans (people from the moon Titan). Something bad had happened in the past and most of the other worlds, including Earth, had shielded themselves... and Thetysians are protecting something on the moon... that everyone else wants. Thus the Titans that try to get to the surface. And while we are following the fate of the Titans, Gina needs to finally understand who she is... and to make some tough choices. The world is well-built and the story flows naturally (even considering the luckiness at some moments). And short of the last 2 paragraphs (the last one being just a sentence), I loved the story. I am almost sure what the very end was about (there was something like a warning for it earlier in the story) but I am not sure it had to be there at all... It's almost amusing that both stories on Saturn moons were about family and tough choices concerning them... and yet they were totally different.

And if you are tired from traveling, let's stop on Earth for a while with 'The Rule of Law' by Elaine Graham-Leigh, shall we? Or at least something that might be Earth... even if they call it Terra and it is somewhere in the future. We are not alone in the galaxy and (what a surprise) there is a war in space. The surprise though is that the terrans are keeping out of the war's way. The story flows backwards - the real end is what starts the story and then we get what lead to it. Which did not make it a boring read in any way. Marcella, the caption of a small ship, is contacted by Sherenka, highly ranked individual from one of the exterrenial races, Gargarin. It's not only unexpected, it is not considered as a possibility before this, nor anyone ever expected the request that Sherenka makes. And this request starts a series of events that lead to the end of a war, the end of more than one empire and back to the start of the story and the choices that some people need to make. We never see anything about the second race but we learn more than enough about the Gargarin and their way with a race they conquered once. I would love to read more about these worlds...

And if you did not like the Earth in the previous story, the one in 'Notes from the Apocalypse' by Michael Pepper is even darker. The Big Event happened (noone ever says which one... but it had been destructive enough). People die, people run even though they have nowhere to run, the bad times showing the worst in some and the best in others. And 4 people traveling together - an old man, a 10 years old girl, a small and fat guy and the narrator. Searching a way to survive and why not a better place. The partial back stories and their travel is showing a devastated world (and still no hint of what had happened exactly). And then comes the end... which is so open to interpretations that I would expect it to have more explanations than readers. I would love to know what the author thought though....

And at the end of the issue, almost as an afterthought came 'The Bridge of the Compass Rose' by John Rogers - the shortest and the most emotional story in the issue. Great work by the editor for placing the story at the end of this issue... Written in the 'you' form that usually annoys me, it seems to be the right form for it. It's the type of stories that I usually dislike and rarely even finish. But something here is different - it's dreamy and at the same time packed with the actions of the past; the past and the future are so tangled with the now and here that in some moments it's hard to separate them. And the end.... which was full of hope and at the same time as sad as an end can get. The whole story is a line of emotions... and even though it can be described with a sentence, I prefer not to - it's short enough as it is. ( )
  AnnieMod | Jul 13, 2009 |
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