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Power Play Hardcover – January 3, 2012

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Dr. Jake Ross survived his childhood by avoiding conflict. During a class trip, he fell in love with science and escaped the neighborhood bullies by visiting the planetarium incessantly. Dr. Cardwell, the planetarium’s director, took Jake under his wing, eventually helping him win a scholarship to study astronomy in college. Now grown, Jake simply wants to live quietly as a researcher and professor of astronomy. Dr. Cardwell, however, envisions Jake as the next science advisor to Frank Tomlinson, a man with aspirations for the U.S. Senate. Unbeknownst to Jake, Jake happens to be sitting on the key to political victory, MHD power generation. MHD is a new and incredibly powerful form of energy. When Tomlinson’s opponent learns of MHD’s potential powers, Jake finds himself in the middle of a supercharged political fight. Will Jake choose the life he has always known or jump headfirst into designing cutting-edge scientific policy? Unpredictable at every turn, Bova’s new novel is sexy, intriguing, and timely. --Alison Downs


“Unpredictable at every turn, [Power Play] is sexy, intriguing, and timely.” —Booklist

Power Play features a strong, plot-driven story; snappy dialog; and characters, uncluttered by backstory drama, whose personalities still leap off the page.” —Library Journal

“Bova proves himself equal to the task of showing how adversity can temper character in unforeseen ways.” —The New York Times

“Bova gets better and better, combining plausible science with increasingly complex fiction.” —Los Angeles Daily News

“A cautionary but hopeful thriller . . . Modern twists and a genuinely surprising ending.” —Publishers Weekly on The Green Trap

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765317869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765317865
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,514,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By eatspumpkins on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading Ben Bova's books for almost thirty years; this one was so bad that it caused me to write my first review on Amazon. Bova's stories have usually had enough sci-fi novelty to make up for the weak characters. This time the characters were especially weak and one-dimensional, and the story completely unable to compensate in any way.

When his stories are set in some marginally future time, and in more exotic environments, we can rationalize some of his characters' simplistic behaviors. In this case, however, the story is in a more-or-less contemporary time and more-or-less familiar locale, so we have reasonable expectations about how people think, behave and talk. Those expectations aren't met and the experience is jarring. The attempts at foreshadowing feel like what you would get from a first-time writer who had just heard about the technique from a night-school course on creative writing. You could just about understand the entire just by reading nothing but chapter titles.

I don't find it easy to be harshly critical of someone who has been a long-standing source of thought-provoking and enjoyable entertainment, but I do feel that each work by an author should be judged on its own merits. This one suggests an author in his late seventies trying to write about 30-year-olds with only the vaguest idea of what a current 30-year-old thinks and does. Without his track record, this book would barely have been publishable as a supermarket checkout thriller. The only thing that got me to finish it was a morbid fascination with this complete failure of writing, editing and publishing decision-making.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Neil G. Matthews on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What a disappointment. Two dimensional characters, with the main character - an astronomy professor, behaving like an adolescent despite being up for tenure. The most interesting part of the story was the description of the transition of magnetohydrodynamic power generation development from a laboratory trial into a pilot production plant and how the reliability problems were gradually overcome. Unfortunately that ended up being a backdrop to the main story - despite a brief teaser (which went nowhere) about how the plant's efficiency could be greatly improved through co-generation with a traditional gas turbine powered generator.

Perhaps not being from the USA, the political side of the story - how a 3 term incumbent senator is challenged for his seat, held less appeal for me, but the whole story was just so juvenile and lacked any real excitement. So many missed opportunities... Ben Bova can write far better than this!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Adjunct astronomy professor Dr. Jake Ross met his mentor Dr. Leverett Caldwell when he was in middle school on a field trip to James A, Van Allen Museum of science. Lev suggest Jake accept the position of science advisor to senatorial candidate Frank Tomlinson, who is making a run against incumbent Senator Leeds. Tomlinson fantasizes that he is JFK so he needs his moon mission. He chooses magnetohydrodynamics as a cheaper yet more effective way to generate electricity. Tomlinson makes the offer and Toss accepts.

Leeds sends his henchmen Ignacio "Nacho" Perez; and Benito "Monster" Falciglia to persuade Ross he can obtain tenure if he joins the right team by sabotaging his boss' support to MHD. Ross refuses but also fears his employer is rushing things as MHD is not ready for prime time with potentially dangerous safety issues to resolve.

Power Play is an interesting political-economic thriller starring a dedicated likable hero who finds himself at the center of senatorial electoral hardball (Chris Matthews' style). The support cast is inane with females sleeping around and goons acting like comic book rejects. Still, with a strong premise in which many in power prefer MHD to fail, fans will enjoy Ross' growing awareness of what counts in DC and who is expendable.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By fastreader on February 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While Ben Bova is best known for his science fiction stories he brings the same expertise that he uses to forge those stories, to any story he writes.

This story fits in that category as the main science fiction aspect is something called magnetohydrodynamics or MHD for short, which is a higher efficiency method of generating electricity.

Jake Ross, or more accurately, Dr Jacob Ross's life was plugging along very nicely thank you. He was teaching astronomy and on his way to tenure at the state university and although his wife had died a year earlier in a car accident he felt that he was dealing with that as well as could be expected.

When his mentor, Dr. Leverett Cardwell ,suggested he meet with Frank Tomlinson who he said may be running for Senator in the next election Jake is hesitant to get involved in politics. Cardwell had been invited to attend as a potential science advisor to Tomlinson but he felt that Jake would be a better candidate.

Jake meets with Tomlinson and agrees to be his science advisor and is tasked by Tomlinson to come up with a scientific improvement as part of his platform. Jake investigates at the university and comes up with MHD which will create electricity at a lower cost and safely use high sulphur content coal which is currently not being used within the state due to emission problems.

The encumbant senator, Senator Leeds soon brings dirty politics into the picture putting Jake and his friends in danger. Gambling and drug connections to Senator Leeds and 3 murders during the campaign seem to be helping the Tomlinson campaign, however danger creeps ever closer to Jake.
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