From Publishers Weekly
Too many characters with too many agendas vie for prestige and power en route to Saturn aboard the Space Habitat Goddard in Hugo winner Bova's middling follow-up to Jupiter (2001) and Venus (2002). Ten thousand intellectuals and scientists, mostly people who don't agree with the authoritarian regimes controlled by the religious fundamentalists who've taken over Earth's governments, have volunteered, been asked or been forced to leave on the long one-way journey. Among them are Malcolm Eberly, recruited by the Holy Disciples from a prison in Vienna with strict instructions to ensure the population chooses the path of righteousness. Eberly agrees to his covert task, confident he can impose his own rule, but he finds that gaining control is harder than he thought. Holy Disciple spies continually get in his way, while one of his subordinates murders for a promotion. Blackmail, subterfuge and another planned murder pile on top of Eberly's machinations to rig an election. Though Bova thoroughly explores human motivation and desires, readers will have a hard time figuring out who to root for-is Eberly a good guy or a bad guy?-and an even harder time caring about characters insufficiently fleshed out. Most memorable is the setting, the Goddard, with its echoes of the sailing ships that transported convicts to Botany Bay.
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Bova continues his epic of solar system exploration by taking refugees from Earth's formidable fundamentalist theocracies on the long voyage to Saturn. The theocracies, by the way, continue as monoliths of villainy but are more in the background here than in Jupiter
(2001). Bova's voyagers continue to be well-done archetypes for the most part, hardly as cliche-ridden as the characters in early space-advocacy fiction. The pacing is brisk, and lumps in the exposition are kept under control despite the temptations of yammering on about the technology necessary for the voyage and the wonders of Saturn's system. Regarding the latter, though--now that Arthur C. Clarke has retired and Charles Sheffield has departed, Bova is definitely the man to do justice to the astronomical marvels of the Saturnian system with its enormous potential as a second home for humanity, especially in the complex environments of its moons. Loud, prolonged applause, then, for the strengths of this book. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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