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Power Play Hardcover – January 3, 2012


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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: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,916,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

“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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Customer Reviews

Of course it's a story about politics, but it comes off as a thinly veiled rant on the author's own political beliefs.
Amazon Customer
The only thing that got me to finish it was a morbid fascination with this complete failure of writing, editing and publishing decision-making.
eatspumpkins
Two dimensional characters, with the main character - an astronomy professor, behaving like an adolescent despite being up for tenure.
Neil G. Matthews

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 Avid Reader on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm not exactly sure how this qualifies as a "techno-thriller" as it is being primed. It is essentially a VERY unrealistic, boring story with unrealistic characters and unrealistic means and motives. I would hazard to add "amateurish" if prssed. First there's Jake, a scientist who don't know nuttin about politics, women or life. The odds that a handsome college professor is politically or romantically naive is near zero yet he seems a babe lost in the real world. He wants to help Frank (rich, nice Republican) running for the Senate by providing a science issue. Of course there's the bad guy, Senator Leeds, who is blackmailing the head of the project his opponent seeks to use (a new form of carbon-free energy using coal.)

It's never explained WHY the Senator opposes clean, cheap fuel or more to the point, why he wouldn't make it his own issue. Jake is threatened by a figure from his pitiful past, his gal pal(s) can't be trusted and meanwhile, the reader waits patiently for SOMETHING to happen. Bova commits the cardinal literary sin - he bores.

A phony action ending is appended to the terse writing but it can't save the day. Bova needs to add some imagination or return to science fiction and leave techno-thrillers to the pros. My Grade - C-
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