Friday, March 03, 2006


Ben Bova

Book Cover

A novel of one of the strangest places imaginable, a place where hydrogen flows as a liquid, a place with a lightless ocean ten times wider than the entire earth, a place where cyclones larger than planets rage for centuries at a time.

Grant Archer merely wanted to study astrophysics, to work quietly as an astronomer on the far side of the moon. But the forces of the New Morality, the coalition of censorious do-gooders who run twenty-first century America, have other plans for him.

To his distress, Grant is torn from his young bride and sent to a research station in orbit around Jupiter, charged with the task of spying on the scientists who work there. Their work may lead to the disvoery of higher life forms in the Jovian system—a discovery whose implications might destabilize the theocratic power structure back on earth.

What Grant's would-be controllers don't know is that his loyalty to science may be greater than his desire for a quiet life. But that loyalty will be tested in a mission as dangerous as any ever undertaken.

Meanwhile, what lurks in the middle reaches of Jupiter's vast atmosphere is more than any faction has counted on...and stranger than anyone could possibly have imagined.

Wow! I really enjoyed this entrant in Bova's "Grand Tour."

He sets up several interesting problems

  • A powerful conservative religious coalition limiting science
  • Scientific obsession to the point of danger
  • Possibility of intelligent life on Jupiter
  • A young Christian scientist whose faith is challenged by the work he's doing

I wasn't sure what to expect. Other books by Bova didn't lead me to think he was particularly interested in promoting religious faith - I was afraid this book might caricature believers, and "save" the scientist by leading him away from his faith - but Bova didn't do that. Even the religious villains were not painted as completely evil. The the hero, Grant Archer, is not led away from his faith - rather the opposite. Very enjoyable, thoughtful and worth reading!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Empire Builders

Ben Bova

Book Cover

Imagine that the economics of the world is determined by seven major companies, and scientists have recently discovered that the greenhouse effect is not just a theory but a ``cliff'' ready to overwhelm the coastal cities with a tidal wave of undreamed proportions. A global economic cartel is desperate to keep this information from the public, since it could hurt their attempts to gain control of the seven influential industrial powers. In addition, the Mafia wants a piece of the action. Enter Dan Randolph, whose job it is to keep Earth from destroying itself.

This was lots of fun! At some point I stopped considering Bova - maybe a good thing, because now I can enjoy catching up. Definitely latter-day Heinlein stuff. Not everything is great, but it was good to see he takes things like Global Warming very seriously. Amazing coincidence in presenting New Orleans as the poster child for the victim of coastal flooding.