The Jupiter Theft

The Jupiter Theft

by Donald Moffitt

Within hours after the Lunar observatory picked up a strange new X-ray source in Cygnus, the disastrous picture was clear.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 3.81
  • Pages: 375
  • Publish Date: October 12th 1986 by Del Rey
  • Isbn10: 0345255054
  • Isbn13: 9780345255051

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The Jupiter Theft is the second book Ive read by Donald Moffitt. I hadnt heard of Donald Moffitt before stumbling upon Children of Men. And I hadnt heard of The Jupiter Theft until I was gathering information on books based on the lesser-loved planetary bodies in science fiction. I mean, how many times have you read about aliens stopping in to thieve a planet from our solar system?! All the aliens in the book were well-imagined. Overall, The Jupiter Theft is an imaginative science fiction adventure set in a future thats only slightly off from our current one.

Fun science-fiction novel that pulled me in with elements of space opera (risky missions! freaky aliens!), hard-science sci-fi (plausible artificial gravity limitations!

It's obviously going to be hard for a book to keep you completely onside when you're in the frankly-ludicrous mindset of feeling sorry for gas giant, but there we have it But the main issue that really got to me is one that means I struggle with a lot of sci-fi, classic or modern. Towards the end, the large group of astronauts that had been sent to Jupiter to investigate, have been captured and are being held captive in the alien zoo, where they keep samples of creatures that inhabited the planets and systems they visited/destroyed. But they've all been left naked and unprovisioned because the aliens, who aren't evil exactly, don't realise what humans need. A primitive way of speaking to the aliens has been worked out, and the nominal head of the captured group asks the protagonists to find and tell the aliens they're happy to go with them, but need supplies. A group of *qualified astronauts* are captured on an alien spacecraft, naked, reduced to the status of zoo exhibits, know for sure they won't see Earth ever again, have maybe one chance to get a message to their quasi-captors, and their priority is to make sure they can have casual sex without worrying?

Spoilers below The central concept is an alien society which is using gas giant planets as fuel for interstellar travel. From there, a considerable part of the story is about most of the human crew being treated like zoo animals, how crew factions fight over what to do, and the crew's concerns if the exit of Jupiter from the solar system will harm Earth.

It was hard to weigh up overall: On one hand the dystopian future is rich and interesting on the other this gets completely ignored in the surprise optimistic ending.

This is a fun little book full of lots of hard science (or some real solid attempts at it), traditional SF characters, some backstabbing, a hero and a liberal dose of Red Scare.

His aliens also come across as genuinely original, not as carbon-copies of human beings with a few odd characteristics, and he has given considerable thought to the linguistics of communicating with a species with entirely different vocal arrangements. The cover of the book gives a little bit away, however: The enormous alien convoy was a world unto itself what could it possibly want from a lifeless planet? The technology and alien characters are where a lot of color comes in. Its a satisfactory ending, but it leaves a few threads untied and it also fails ultimately to justify the entire book as a discussion of the human condition. Its very hard to express why without going into spoilers, but the book loses its sense of purpose in the final pages and just seems to end because Moffitt was out of ideas.

The other star I took from my rating of The Jupiter Theft came away due to the peppering of sexism that moved me from good-natured eye-rolling to frowning by about halfway through the book. Descriptions of female characters throughout the book never fail to comment on breast size, and it was about the point when a female character was encouraged to share herself around among the male crew on the spaceship that I took a break from reading.

It's an interesting take on the basic alien invasion story with the twist being that the aliens aren't at all interested in Earth.

A former public relations executive, industrial filmmaker, and ghostwriter, he has been writing fiction on and off for more than twenty years under an assortment of pen names, including his own, chiefly espionage novels and adventure stories in international settings.