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Saturn: A Novel of the Ringed Planet- And the Humans Who Explore It (The Grand Tour) Mass Market Paperback – August 26, 2004

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 470 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction (August 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812579429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812579420
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 4.1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,217,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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 Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The science was missing, characters you care about were missing, and an engaging plot was missing.
Bottom line, I don't recommend this book, but if you happen to get it and have nothing better to do, it's an ok way to pass a few hours.
Unlike his previous books, there really is precious little science in this one, fiction or otherwise.
Emil L. Posey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Emil L. Posey on July 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is a disappointment. I don't know if Bova is running out of good plots, he was hurried, or it was just a fluke, but this book doesn't deliver.
Part of Bova's planetary series, it continues a background situation of an Earth under the rule of fundamentalist regimes that have little use for scientific study and even less for individual freedoms. He also brings back a couple of characters, albeit he focuses his story on new ones.
The basic premise is that a huge spacecraft the size of a large asteroid containing a self-sustaining, essentially closed-loop ecosystem along with 10,000 people "serving a cadre of scientists" journeys to Saturn for extended study. The habitat is named Goddard. The principal experiment is kept from the inhabitants though. It is "to test the ability of a self-contained community to survive and develop a viable social system of its own."
During the 25-month voyage a villainous set of ringers planted by a fundamentalist group back on Earth plot to seize political control of the habitat. This group is sophomorically patterned after Hitler and his closest henchmen in the budding Nazi Party. Bova has never been strong on character development, but this group is more shallow than usual.
Bova's strength has always been the science he tantalizingly weaves into his stories. Unlike his previous books, there really is precious little science in this one, fiction or otherwise. It is more a study in seizing political power via subterfuge than it is about science. Even the life form in the Saturnian system is undeveloped and seemingly included merely as a sop to his sci fi fans.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on August 9, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Saturn (2003) is the third SF novel in the Planet Novel series, following Jupiter. In this novel, the Goddard habitat is leaving its lunar orbit and traveling to an orbit around Saturn. The largest minority group aboard the habitat is the scientists sent to study the Saturn system, especially the moon Titan. Although the sponsors are happy to see the last of this ungodly crew, the hidden purpose of the mission is really not to gather planetary data, but as an experiment in human society. The anthropologist James Wilmot is the project chief for this experiment and reports back to New Morality headquarters in Atlanta.

Malcolm Eberly was recruited by the Holy Disciples to accompany the ten thousand persons on the habitat. He is a former swindler who has been released from prison for the trip. He and others of the fundamentalist cadre are supposed to take over the administration and impose an authoritarian government. His primary assistants are Ruth Morgenthau, Sammi Vyborg and Leo Kananga.

Susan Lane, Pancho Lane's sister, decides to leave Selene and travel to Saturn orbit on the Goddard habitat. She is enamored with Eberly. With encouragement from Eberly, she changes her name to Holly Lane.

Two other members of the Saturn mission have been sent by Pancho Lane to keep an eye on Holly. Manuel Gaeta is a stuntman who hopes to the first man on Titan. Kris Cardenas is a Nobel Prize laureate for her work on nanotechnology; she was instrumental in the death of Dan Randolph and has been in self-exile in the Belt. Both are accepted by Eberly, but are having problems with Edouard Urbain, the chief scientist.

Eberly was appointed as Director of the Human Resources Department of the Goddard habitat, with Holly as his assistant.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Snyder on January 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book truly baffles me. I've read a bit of Ben Bova lately, and I can't quite comprehend why he did what he did with this book. I think that what's the best about Bova's books is his attention to scientific detail and his exploration of the sites of our solar system. However, in Saturn, all this stuff takes a back seat to a character story that isn't all that great. In fact, the title "Saturn" is most definitely a misnomer, as this book has very little at all to do with Saturn. In fact, they don't get to Saturn until the latter stages of the books, and don't even really TALK about Saturn until maybe 100 pages into the book.
The real focus of the story is the giant spaceborne habitat "Goddard" which, for some reasons unknown to us, is being sent to Saturn to be a colony there. Why, I'm still not sure. The story mostly follows Susie (Holly) Lane, Pancho Lane's sister come back to life due to a miracle of cryogenics... or something. I wish this was explained a little better, especially after it was set up in detail in The Precipice. The other main character is a recently released convict named Malcolm Eberly who strives to gain political control of the habitat.
To be blunt, the story starts off really slow. I kept waiting for Bova to get to the good stuff (i.e. the science and exploration), but it really never happened. The science takes a back seat, and unfortunately, the character story that drives the book is second-rate, at best. Granted, it did get better towards the end, and there was a bit of suspense added to make me care more for the characters. However, this is not one of Bova's best. Stick to the science next time, Ben.
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