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Mercury (The Grand Tour) Mass Market Paperback – March 7, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After secretly infiltrating a scientific mission on Mercury, a disgraced yet brilliant scientist exacts his revenge on those who framed him in this flawed, yet accessible and fun, hard SF novel, the latest in Bova's Grand Tour series (and the best since 2001's Jupiter). 2005 Audie Award winner Rudnicki is in top form again, handling primary narrative duties with panache-his deep, resonant voice and deliberate cadence grip listeners' attention like a vise. Rudnicki's remarkable ability to subtly modulate his voice allows him to enact male and female characters with equal proficiency, and to shift seamlessly between the various accented dialects of the multinational cast of characters. In supporting roles, Johnson is outstanding, with his skill at dramatizing dialogue being particularly noteworthy; Quirk offers competent, if at times overly-emotive, narration. The characters are the weak point of the audiobook-at times they are megalomaniacal and over-the-top-but the science fictional concepts presented here-skyhooks, solar power satellites, and the near-future exploration and colonizing of our solar system-along with Rudnicki and cast's top-notch performance, are enough to make an otherwise minor novel by the six-time Hugo Award winner into an audiobook well-worth listening to.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Bova's impressive series on human exploration of the Solar System (Venus, 2000; Jupiter, 2001; Saturn, 2003) turns to the planet nearest the Sun. Saito Yamagata wants to build power satellites around Mercury, engineer Dante Alexios has designs for them in hand, and biologist Victor Molina wants to explore Mercury's polar caps, where there may be water, for possible signs of life. Theocrat Bishop Danvers is looking over their shoulders, and visionary Mance Bracknell wants to avenge the sabotage of his power satellites years ago by in turn sabotaging the Mercury project. Their motivations bring the characters to life, and readers may also savor the complex and plausible hardware, and the lethal environment in which humans need it to have any chance of survival. Briskly paced into the bargain, this superior entry in one of the classic hard-sf sagas going is pretty much a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Grand Tour
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765343142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765343147
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,336,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on August 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mercury (2005) is the fourth SF novel in the Planet Novel series, following Saturn. In this novel, Mance Bracknell was exiled from Earth when the Sky Tower that he constructed split at the geostationary level and the lower portion fell on the planet. Coming down to the west of its base at Quito, the tower wrapped around the Earth, with the far end coming down into the mid-Atlantic. Over four million people were killed as it fell.

During the trial, Mance was desolate, blaming himself for the disaster. He became agitated when Elliot Danvers, the New Morality minister at the site, stated that he had reported something like nanomachines being used to construct the tower. Then he became angry when his associate Victor Molina implied that Mance had ignored warnings about this new construction method.

Years after exile to the Belt, Mance learns from Danvers that his fiancee, Lara Tierney, had married Molina. Later he discovers that the Yamagata Corporation had sabotaged the tower. He becomes obsessed with plans of vengeance on Danvers, Molina and Yamagata. After his ship is destroyed by Yamagata assassins, Mance alters his name and face, opens a construction consulting company on Selene, and looks for an opportunity for revenge.

This novel is a study of ambition, vengeance and jealousy as well as loyalty and atonement. The three targets are brought together on Mercury with Mance, in his new identity, setting the stage. First Victor is led to believe that there is life on Mercury and then the plot unfolds.

Recommended for Bova fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of space ventures, ambition and betrayal.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on October 2, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mance Bracknell is the chief engineer on the Sky Tower in Quito, Ecuador - a construction mega-project which will lift payloads to the altitude of geosynchronous orbit via elevator at a cost of pennies per pound instead of the current cost of hundreds of dollars if the load is lifted by standard rocket launch into orbit. But when the tower collapses killing over four million people and causing untold billions of dollars of property damage in a globe-girdling disaster, Mance Bracknell is found guilty of negligent homicide and exiled for life to a criminal penal colony in the asteroid belt. After a serendipitous encounter with an injured scientist fleeing for his life in which he learns the Sky Tower's collapse was the result of terrorist sabotage, Bracknell escapes and wends his way to a scientific outpost on the planet Mercury where he plots his revenge.

The good news is that "Mercury" is a soundly entertaining story that reads like a blockbuster five-star motion picture screenplay. The elements are all there - disaster, a love triangle, explosions, terrorism and sabotage, murder, the inscrutable Oriental tycoon, jealousy, hatred, suicide, right wing fundamentalist religious groups, mobs, courtroom trials and prisoner riots! The bad news is that the science and the setting of the book in the asteroid belt and on the surface of the hostile planet of Mercury is all but incidental to the plot. I can't help but feel that Bova had a plot in mind. All he actually needed to force fit that plot into the "Grand Tour of the Universe" theme was a planet which had virtually no chance of harboring life forms at any stage of development. Mercury fit the bill so Mercury got selected!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. Gammill VINE VOICE on August 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
After reading numerous blurbs about how Ben Bova's novels were a return to the "hard" science fiction popularized by Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke (my personal favorite), I have to say I was really let down by this book. While the science may be more or less sound, the fiction leaves much to be desired.

The main problem is that Mercury is essentially a story about betrayal and vengeance that, almost as an afterthought, happens to take place on or around the planet Mercury. The main revenge plot is spelled out for the reader early on, so there's no real mystery and only a minor bit of suspense to keep the story moving.

Other reviewers have stated that the book is not Bova's best, and I might be willing to give him another try. Hard sci-fi has been on life support (or maybe suspended animation?) for years. I'm just grateful that, as of this writing, we still have Arthur C. Clarke alive and still writing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Simms VINE VOICE on June 20, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Okay, I'm type A compulsive. I've been a Bova fan since Heinlein died; while he is a bit less political now than he was in the 80's and 90's, Bova has also become more predictable.

In trying to do the kind of future history saga others have attempted (Asimov most successfully, I think), Ben seems to have gotten a bit tired with this one. The plot echoes several of the previous ones; character development is kind of lacking. The hard science part is not new; there's quite a bit of repitition from some of the previous planetary stories in the series.

I got the sense he wrote this one becauise he felt he needed to; I guess "Neptune" and "Pluto" will follow (well, maybe not Pluto since it seems to have lost planetary status). And I'll read them because I'll want to finish the series. But this is not thought-provoking, and at best is very light summer time reading in the backyard hammock, or maybe airport reading while waiting for the delayed plane to eventually take off.

(By the way, how come there never seem to be delays in his flights?)
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