Review: Science Fiction Short Story "The Jupiter Weapon" by Charles L. Fontenay

@msiduri (5750)
United States
December 21, 2016 6:59pm CST
Trella’s night started out bad. First, her boyfriend Mortwick dragged her to this bar in a sleazy part of Ganymeade, then he got so drunk his head dropped onto his arms, leaving her prey to two evil-looking men at a nearby table. Even here, in a terrestrial dome-colony on a Jovian moon, the best thing a girl can do when threatened is go for a phone. One of the goons grabs her. She slaps him for his efforts and begs a square-built man at the bar to intervene. Heavily muscled as a lion, he nevertheless backs away from her. “I can’t,” he tells her in a deep voice. “I can’t help you. I can’t do anything.” The barkeep finally steps in, breaks a bottle over the head of the partner of the guy who’d grabbed Trella, and promptly throws them both out of the bar. He doesn’t want any trouble. Trella checks on the snoozing Mortwick who seems quite undisturbed. The square-built stranger offers to help her get him home. She regards him with contempt, but he points out that no one will disturb her if she’s with him. He’s able to throw Mortwick over his shoulder like a feather pillow and they head out. They leave Mortwick, still passed out, as his apartment, and go somewhere to talk. As they get to chatting, they discover that they’re both on the same flight back to earth (which will take 54 days…) leaving in a few days. Also, coincidentally, the parents of the square-built man used to work with Trella’s boss. His parents crashed years ago on Jupiter, where no human can survive. But he claims he was born and grew up on Jupiter... It’s nice that he was there to help the poor damsel in distress, because the silly little thing sure can’t help herself. And she sure can’t think for herself. On the ship home, she asks the captain, with whom she is acquainted, to act as chaperone for her. She’s in love with this other passenger and she doesn’t trust herself. GAK! And she’s in seventh grade, too, maybe. So like Trella and the ship’s captain discuss this while they’re brushing their hair and dabbing on some lip balm in front of the mirror in the girls’ bathroom just before the bell rings for social studies. The question of whether the square-built man is a human or an android has a resolution, but it is low on the convincing meter. And the infantalization of the character Trella is an indignity that is almost amusing. Born in Brazil, author Charles L Fontenay was an American journalist and editor aside from his science fiction writing. This story is available from Project Gutenberg and as an audiobook from Librivox: _____ Title: “The Jupiter Weapon” Author: Charles L. Fontenay (1917-2007) First published: Amazing Science Fiction Stories March 1959 Source: ISFDB *An earlier version of this review appeared on another site. It has been updated and expanded for its inclusion on myLot.*
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27588
4 people like this
3 responses
@teamfreak16 (41181)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
22 Dec 16
Entirely helpless female characters are not my thing for the most part. Unless it's a well done comedy and is necessary. If that makes any sense.
2 people like this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
22 Dec 16
You're making sense. No, this is played straight. Alas! with a pinch of feetie stomping. *sigh*
2 people like this
@TheSojourner (17454)
• United States
22 Dec 16
That's quite the story.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
22 Dec 16
Yes. It would have been a bit better had Trella had a little moxie, though.
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Dec 16
@msiduri fast forward her to today's world and she would have been written much differently!
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
22 Dec 16
@CoralLevang Oh, yeah. Mortwick would get a boot print in his...er, back pocket for starters.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (57277)
• Los Angeles, California
22 Dec 16
Sounds like a hard boiled noir sci fi style.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
22 Dec 16
There is some of that slant to it, but it is definitely sci fi.
1 person likes this