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The Precipice (The Asteroid Wars, Book 1) Hardcover – October 26, 2001

Book 8 of 21 in the Grand Tour Series

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Rex Regis by L. E. Modesitt
Rex Regis by L. E. Modesitt
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of some 100 books, most of them either science fiction or science fact, six-time Hugo-winner Bova (Jupiter; Venus) is a longtime exponent of the industrialization of outer space, preferably by privately owned corporations, and here he continues in this vein. Earth is on the brink of disaster; in fact, it may have already toppled over the precipice. As a result of the greenhouse effect, the oceans have risen catastrophically and half of humanity faces immediate starvation. Two very rich industrialists, Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries, believe that they may have the key to the planet's salvation. Using new innovations in fusion and nanotechnology, they want to send an experimental spaceship to the asteroid belt. The goal is to bring back enough raw materials to begin to move Earth's heavy industries into outer space, thus greatly reducing pollution and providing enough capital to transform the world. Randolph, despite his many years as a captain of industry, is still something of a starry-eyed optimist who truly wishes to save the planet. Humphries, however, is made of much more selfish stuff; his primary goals are to destroy Randolph and save only as much of Earth's civilization as he personally can rule. Bova has been writing variations on this novel for decades, and he knows his material well. Unfortunately, his work is often marred by a plodding prose style, somewhat stereotypical characters and deeply ingrained sexism. Still, this novel should appeal to Bova's regular audience, a mixture of traditional hard SF fans, space enthusiasts and libertarians.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The greenhouse effect has caused catastrophic changes to Earth's atmosphere, guaranteeing economic, social, and enviromental collapse in the near future. When Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries enter a business partnership to seek new resources in the Asteroid Belt as the only means of saving the planet, only one of them has Earth's best interests in mind. Bova's latest novel, a series opener, highlights current environmental issues and scientific speculation while simultaneously telling a tale of heroes and villains that should appeal to most fans of hard sf.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Asteroid Wars (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (October 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312848765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312848767
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book got off to a good start, but turned painfully slow and rather boring.
I love this about Ben Bova and I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, space saga's or soap opera's.
AmandaKay Mazurkiewicz
I have yet to meet the Ben Bova novel that I didn't enjoy and, for what it's worth, this is one of the best.
Paul Weiss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on August 27, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Precipice (2001) is the first SF novel of the Asteroid Wars series. In this volume, Earth has reached the greenhouse cliff, the threshold where the world's climate changes drastically in a very short time. Although the greenhouse effect had been hotly debated, the current evidence could not be rebutted. The icecaps were melting and storms tore savagely at human infrastructure.

Dan Randolph is one of the victims of the new weather patterns. Jane Scanwell died trying to rescue people stranded by the flooding of the Tennessee River. Dan had not known how much he loved her until she was no longer there.

Randolph is determined to alleviate the greenhouse effects as much as possible by moving industry into space and providing raw materials from the Belt. Only one asteroid has ever been brought to Earth in the past; of course, the operation bankrupted Sam Gunn, but it was successful. Now Dan needs a less expensive way to mine the Belt and Martin Humphries shows him such a method.

Lyall Duncan has developed a small fusion power source. Unlike most such sources, the Duncan fusion device is small enough to fit into an old cruise missile used as a test vehicle. The results of this test suggest that a large version would be capable of powering a manned vehicle to the Belt in record time.

Although Humphries has offered to underwrite the initial voyage, Dan just doesn't trust him. Humphries has made his billions by merging smaller companies into his Humphries Space Systems and Randolph's company, Astro Manufacturing, seems to be the old Humper's next target.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brent Ziarnick on December 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Continuing the story of Dan Randolph, the hero of Ben's books Privateers and Empire Builders, I found this book to be very enjoyable. Ben Bova writes the clearest, most epic, and most believable near future fiction I've ever encountered. The Precipice is most interesting, though, because it combines storylines from many other books besides the Dan Randolph series, notably Moonbase and Moonwar, allowing me to become reacquainted with some characters I'd long forgot about. Also, Ben's book Venus alludes to the Asteroid War, and since The Precipice is just book one of a chronicle of the War, I'm going to be eagerly awaiting the next books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on January 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Dan Randolph has spent his life in a failed attempt to save the earth from her own errors. Now, global warming has accelerated, the seas are rising, and starvation is a real threat. Worse, politics prevents the earth from taking full advantage of space technologies and Dan's company teeters on the brink of bankruptcy. When a rich, if crooked entrepreneur suggests using fusion ships to mine the asteroid belts, Dan sees a way to finally make a difference, or lose everything.
Set in a near-future earth, author Ben Bova presents a frightfully realistic view of how the world may go. In the face of obvious disaster, the Earth has changed--but not in always constructive ways. The dominant New Morality movement sees anything that changes the present as a threat, and Dan's old enemies unite to prevent him from achieving his dreams. Only by using forbidden nano-technology, and by relying on a wild pilot/thief, can Dan have a chance to achieve his dream.
Bova is a long-time master of science fiction and writes a smooth and convincing tale. Both Dan Randolph and space-jock Pancho Lane are well developed and motivated characters. Bova, however, missed a chance to move his novel up a notch by making villain Martin Humprhies one-dimensional rather than allowing him a misguided heroism of his own.
Unlike many other novels of the near-future dystopia, Bova believes that the heroic individual can make a difference, and that makes THE PRECIPICE an enjoyable read. The novel is the first of THE ASTEROID WARS series, but may be read independently.
Three Stars
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edward Alexander Gerster VINE VOICE on March 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Assuming a "worst case scenario" for global warming, this new "Asteroid Wars" series is fascinating in it's clarity of laying out a possible near-future path for mankind's expansion into space. It is a wonderful work of fiction that makes some timely predictions about the 21st century (and beyond) and how mankind may cope with the many changes that are coming. It follows loosely behind his "Moonwar" series, which brings in settings and a character or two on Selene, the lunar city where much of this novel takes place.

THE PRECIPICE also incorporates and expands on much of the scientific and technological advances that have appeared in Dr. Bova's books over the past decade-including nanotechnology, fusion power, and some very practical approaches to spaceflight within the boundaries of our solar system. A highly recommended novel, followed by THE ROCK RATS, book 2 in the Asteroid Wars series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Newman VINE VOICE on May 14, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really wanted to give this book 3 1/2 stars. Why I chose 4 is that it seems to give a realistic view of the near future where the moon has been settled to the point where it is now an independent nation. The Earth is beginning the cataclysmic effects from global warming. Nanotechnology has evolved to new heights to the point where nanobots can be implanted into humans to enhance the immune system to the point where human bodies no longer grow old. Religious fanatics have banned all such persons from the Earth because they feel that eliminating natural death is tampering with G-d.
Dan Randolph (from some of Bova's previous novels) has become a do-gooder enterprenur who wants to build a fusion powered rocket and begin mining the Asteroid belt for the benefit of humanity. He is teamed with Martin Humphries, the prototypical "evil capitalist" who will provide the funding to make a great deal of money with the ultimate goal of double-crossing Randolph and taking his company.
Randolph plans to use two women pilots to fly his expedition, the tough as nails Pancho (her real name is Pricilla, but she will sic her snake on anyone that calls her that) and Amanda, who is a combination of looks and brains. Humphries has plans to make Amanda his third wife and wants to prevent her from flying to the belt, because of the danger involved.
Why I didn't rate this book higher is because the characters seem to be stiff and the male/female relationships are extremely boring.
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