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Jupiter Hardcover – January, 2001

3.8 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews
Book 8 of 19 in the Grand Tour Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

He made planetfall on Venus and all but colonized Mars, so it's not surprising that SF don Ben Bova finally set his sights on our solar system's swirling, red-eyed sovereign.

As with his previous planetary exploration books, Jupiter plants you right in the heart of the action, witness to the speculative science and political intrigue--and in this case, religious machination--that surround a fast-paced, dangerous, and technically fleshed-out mission. Our unlikely hero on this touchdown is an earnest, likeable, hard-working grad student named Grant Archer, a frustrated astrophysicist who's been shanghaied aboard Jupiter's Gold space station to fulfill a ROTC-style public-service commitment. What's worse, this devout young man has been ordered by the New Morality--the American flavor of the conservative religious order that runs Earth nowadays--to spy on some suspicious research involving alleged Jovian life forms.

Bova begins his book with an A.C. Clarke quote: "The rash assertion that 'God made man in His own image' is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths." This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about where this book's going, and who, respectively, will be wearing the white and the black hats (unfortunately, some of the characterizations don't get much deeper). That the central protagonist is both a Christian and a scientist makes for some fertile character development, but Bova's not exactly gunning for God here--he's happy just to blast away at narrow-minded ideologues and other assorted religious fanatics. (But that, of course, is about as easy as making teenagers depressed.) --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

In continuing to explore the marvels of the solar system, Bova (Venus) tracks the metamorphosis of his protagonist, Grant Archer, from a selfish, petulant grad student into a man who does what's right despite massive pressures. Sent to study on Jupiter's orbital space station, rather than the more desirable lunar colony, astrophysicist Archer resents everyone and complains about his bad luck; he isn't even allowed to study in his field of expertise. The New Morality, the ultrareligious creationist group who controls the U.S., has given him the additional task of spying on the station's untrustworthy scientists who are suspected of looking for Jovian life. The mere existence of extraterrestrials would conflict with New Morality doctrine. Grant is a true believer, but he's also a scientist resentful of the New Morality's control over his life. When he's given a chance to aid in the Jovian research, he jumps at it, even though it means horrifying modifications to his body and repeated drownings. This easy read provides solid action and wonder with credible alien life forms and inspired technology for exploring the Jovian depths. Jupiter is a new favorite destination for sci-fi exploration, and Bova's take on the planet is unique and enticing. (Jan. 1) Forecast: Bova is one of the more popular SF writersAhe's won six HugosAand fans of Venus will delight in the continuation of the series, which gets a push in the Nov. issue of Locus, with Bova as the cover interview. Heavenly sales could ensue.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (January 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312872178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312872175
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,032,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jupiter (2001) is the second SF novel in the Planet Novel series, following Venus. In this volume, Grant Archer graduated with a degree in Astrophysics and expected to spend his two years of Public Service at Farside Observatory studying black holes. His wife would be serving with the Peacekeepers on Earth, but he should be able to spend his furloughs with her. Then the New Morality changed his Public Service tour to four years on Thomas Gold station orbiting around the planet Jupiter.

Grant appeals his assignment through New Morality channels to regional director Ellis Beech. There Grant is told that something unusual is occurring at the station and that he is to report any such suspicious actions to Beech. Grant is a Believer, but he doesn't fancy himself as a spy. However, he realizes that Beech could easily assign him to some obnoxious manual labor job and starts agreeing with the director's complaints.

After more than a year in transit, the rundown freighter Oral Roberts finally docks at Gold station. In the boarding tunnel, Grant notices an asymmetrical feature on one side of the torus that he doesn't recognize from his study of the station diagrams. Then he is met by Egon Farland, given a brief tour, and shown to his compartment.

As soon as he can, Grant tries to discover the purpose of the strange arrangement, but the computer gives him a message stating that the subject is not for public dissemination. After he tries several other ways of tracking down the object through the computer, Grant is summoned to the station director's office and told that he has no business trying to access such information. Zhang Wo declares that he has made a bad start on the station and directs him to report to the security office.
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Format: Hardcover
Although he has been around for a while and I have read a lot of science fiction, this is only the second Ben Bova novel I have read, the first being one of his stories for teenagers. What I found with Jupiter is that Bova is a decent author, well-deserving of his longetivity in the genre.
Bova's late 21st Century Earth is an unpleasant place dominated by the New Morality, a futuristic spin-off of the Moral Majority. Protagonist Grant Archer is a religious man who is used as a pawn of the New Morality in its efforts to spy on the Jovian explorers. Archer is sent to a space station above Jupiter and quickly learns there are mysterious goings-on, and as the story develops, he gets more and more involved with these happenings himself, until finally he must go on a high-risk exploration of the big planet itself.
I say that this novel is in the classic style of science fiction because it is reminiscent of such sci-fi giants as Asimov and Clarke. Science and scientific exploration are the most important things, and plot and character are next on the list. Nonetheless, although his characters are not all that well developed, they are not one-dimensional. Archer, in particular, is a conflicted individual, torn between the New Morality who he often agrees with and offers his only chance to go home to his wife and his own feelings that the Jovian explorers are doing a necessary thing.
I recommend this book for fans of hard science fiction, in particular, fans of classic hard science fiction. This book fits well into this genre and will not disappoint those readers.
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Where to begin? I was bored. The characters were unengaging, the science mediocre, the psychology unrealistic, and the plot didn't move forward. I kept waiting for something to happen- and I had to wait for most of the book. This is the first Bova I've read, and I am now unlikely to read anything else of his.

The sad thing is that it could have been so much better. Alien intelligent life on Jupiter is a great premise. But when you write well, you build up to it, creating mystery. The answer of intelligent life is given in the first section of the book- so I give nothing away other than what Bova gave away when I say that, yes, there is intelligent life on Jupiter. That is what the characters are searching the entire book for, hoping against hope to find, sacrificing life and limb to discover.

But perhaps the book is about character development after all, and not the plot? Not so. For the second great premise of the book is a future world controlled by fundamentalists of all stripes, and, in the US, by the Religious Right. Great idea. I'm intrigued. But it quickly becomes apparent that Bova just hates religious types. There is not a round character in the bunch. He appears to only be aware of conservative Christians as caricatures, and even Grant, the main character with religious doubts and a commitment to science, does not come across as believable. I am a science teacher, and also a Christian. And I have *never* heard in real life the kind of things coming out of the mouths of Bova's religious characters. They speak exactly like what Hollywood thinks Christians talk like, without actually an awareness of the Bible that they supposedly follow.

I am personally very much against fundamentalist agendas, of any sort.
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