He made planetfall on Venus
and all but colonized Mars
, so it's not surprising that SF don Ben Bova finally set his sights on our solar system's swirling, red-eyed sovereign.
As with his previous planetary exploration books, Jupiter plants you right in the heart of the action, witness to the speculative science and political intrigue--and in this case, religious machination--that surround a fast-paced, dangerous, and technically fleshed-out mission. Our unlikely hero on this touchdown is an earnest, likeable, hard-working grad student named Grant Archer, a frustrated astrophysicist who's been shanghaied aboard Jupiter's Gold space station to fulfill a ROTC-style public-service commitment. What's worse, this devout young man has been ordered by the New Morality--the American flavor of the conservative religious order that runs Earth nowadays--to spy on some suspicious research involving alleged Jovian life forms.
Bova begins his book with an A.C. Clarke quote: "The rash assertion that 'God made man in His own image' is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths." This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about where this book's going, and who, respectively, will be wearing the white and the black hats (unfortunately, some of the characterizations don't get much deeper). That the central protagonist is both a Christian and a scientist makes for some fertile character development, but Bova's not exactly gunning for God here--he's happy just to blast away at narrow-minded ideologues and other assorted religious fanatics. (But that, of course, is about as easy as making teenagers depressed.) --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
In continuing to explore the marvels of the solar system, Bova (Venus) tracks the metamorphosis of his protagonist, Grant Archer, from a selfish, petulant grad student into a man who does what's right despite massive pressures. Sent to study on Jupiter's orbital space station, rather than the more desirable lunar colony, astrophysicist Archer resents everyone and complains about his bad luck; he isn't even allowed to study in his field of expertise. The New Morality, the ultrareligious creationist group who controls the U.S., has given him the additional task of spying on the station's untrustworthy scientists who are suspected of looking for Jovian life. The mere existence of extraterrestrials would conflict with New Morality doctrine. Grant is a true believer, but he's also a scientist resentful of the New Morality's control over his life. When he's given a chance to aid in the Jovian research, he jumps at it, even though it means horrifying modifications to his body and repeated drownings. This easy read provides solid action and wonder with credible alien life forms and inspired technology for exploring the Jovian depths. Jupiter is a new favorite destination for sci-fi exploration, and Bova's take on the planet is unique and enticing. (Jan. 1) Forecast: Bova is one of the more popular SF writersAhe's won six HugosAand fans of Venus will delight in the continuation of the series, which gets a push in the Nov. issue of Locus, with Bova as the cover interview. Heavenly sales could ensue.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.