with an introduction by James Lovegrove
(PS Publishing, £8, 104 pages, signed limited edition paperback; hardback
edition also available, published April 2003.)
All of a sudden one evening, Jupiter appears in extreme close-up, blotting
out half the night sky. How would you react to such an Jupiter Magnified follows
seven months in the life of Stina Ekman, Swedish poet, as she tries
to use this bizarre apparition to jump-start her stalled project, "Poems
Would you theorise? Go mad? Join a cult?
Adam Roberts cheekily supplements this seventy-page novella with Stina's
finished opus, and I found that the poetry said more about the story's
theme than the story itself did. In 25 reflective pieces (pun intended),
Roberts examines through his protagonist the phenomenon of light. Some
of these poems have more of the technical than technique about them,
but some of them are quite illuminating -- the image of a fly rubbing
its eyes in wonder is a particular gem. The story too is an exercise
in reflection, as Stina tries to reconcile her old, unfulfilled life
-- and her old, unfulfilled project -- to the novelty of Jupiter's image.
As the reader may expect of Roberts, it's all beautifully written, and
the characterisation is excellent.
The reader shouldn't, however, expect a definite explanation for the
titular phenomenon, and Roberts seems to mock such an expectation by
throwing in a few theories on the matter from the "scientific community",
all of them just a little too fanciful. I got a chuckle out of these
rationalisations -- I suppose the unannounced arrival of Jupiter's baleful
red eye overhead is one of those things we just shouldn't try to explain
away. In any case it might detract from the wonder of the novella's
device to be able to pin it down to anything concrete.
As enigmatic as its title suggests, Jupiter Magnified is about
the fiction first, and the science second, and that suits this reviewer
Review by John Toon.
Elsewhere in infinity