- Series: Star Quest Trilogy (Book 3)
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition first Printing edition (December 26, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765379546
- ISBN-13: 978-0765379542
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Survival: A Novel (Star Quest Trilogy) Hardcover – December 26, 2017
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“A page-turner.”―Manhattan Book Review
“[Bova’s] excellence at combining hard science with believable characters and an attention-grabbing plot makes him one of the genre’s most accessible and entertaining storytellers.” ―Library Journal
“Impressive.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Titan
“A guaranteed crowd-pleaser!” ―Booklist on Mercury
About the Author
BEN BOVA is a six-time winner of the Hugo Award, a former editor of Analog, former editorial director of Omni, and a past president of both the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction. He lives in Florida.
Top customer reviews
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A team of explorers from Earth has been in transit for over two thousand years. Now, they have finally reached their objective: a planet known as "oh-four". The mission of the explorers is to identify planets that are in the path of an approaching "death wave"; a huge pulse of gamma radiation originating at the center of the galaxy. This wave will wipe out all organic life forms in its path. Led by Alexander Ignatiev, the explorers hope to save those on oh-four.
But the inhabitants of oh-four are not mortal beings; rather, they are a race of intelligent machines who have evolved to levels of intelligence far beyond any human. To make matters even more interesting (and dangerous), the machines proceed to imprison the explorers with the intent of exposing them to the oncoming death ray. The machines have no intent on protecting the humans. Moreover, the intent is to let them die. It is up to Ignatiev and the crew of his ship, Intrepid, to find a way to save themselves before the death ray arrives. Will they succeed, or will the death ray consume them?
I'm a big fan of Ben Bova's books, and I enjoy his blend of fiction and hard science. The story in "Survival" is loaded with well-developed characters and an interesting story that is full of action. I enjoyed the previous books in this series ("Death Ray" and "Apes & Angels"), and "Survival" ties up everything. Highly recommended.
I was disappointed that the maximum ability for miraculous deeds wasn’t addressed more. Maybe that will be the basis for a sequel.
So Ignatiev is sent out on another such mission, but we are told in passing that between these missions, humans encountered an alien race of intelligent machines, and have allied with them to save endangered planets. Since this sounds like a much more interesting story than the one I was reading, I was baffled that the author would skip over it in a matter of a few sentences. It was only when I came here to read some other reviews before posting my own that I discovered that this is actually book #4 out of a series, which nothing on the cover of this book had warned me about. Presumably that more interesting tale is told in one of those.
Anyway, at the second planet, a race of intelligent machines takes the human visitors captive, saying they are afraid of the competitive aggressiveness of humans, and do not believe that humans could coexist peacefully with their machine race. Yes, even though the humans are ALREADY peacefully allied with the first machine race, this second machine race does not believe that is possible. To prevent the people from leaving, the machines disable their communications and ship engines through some remotely applied effect the humans can not even detect, let alone stop. The machines can also read every single thought in the people's heads in real-time. Which leaves one puzzled as to what sort of threat the machines believe the humans pose when the machines already have technology that is orders of magnitude more powerful and sophisticated than anything the humans have. Later in the novel the machine intelligence even says, "An organic species could hardly compete with us," so they actually know the humans pose no threat, but are still determined to fend off the threat human civilization is not able to pose. This is nonsensical.
By the way, when Ignative first lands, he is greeted by a figure he believes to be his long-dead wife. The figure reveals that it's actually a projection of the machine intelligences meant to put the humans at ease, which is a science fiction cliche which was worn out decades ago, and it's dismaying to find it repeated in a modern novel. But an even bigger problem is that Ignatiev would believe that his long-dead wife could somehow be present to greet him on the first visit of humans to an alien world. I'm sure the author's intention was that Ignatiev was merely too surprised to reason this out in that moment, but the problem is, Ignatiev isn't just some random person. He's an astrophysicist and leader of a scientific expedition, and I find it ridiculous to assert that such a trained rational mind would even momentarily entertain the impossibility that this figure could actually be his long-dead wife.
Ignatiev and the machine intelligence have a very repetitive argument 4-5 times during the novel in which Ignatiev expresses outrage that they would allow other races to be wiped out, while the machines insist that organic life inevitably becomes extinct anyway and so does not matter, so it's machine life forms which are actually important because they are immortal. But at one point Ignatiev brings up the first machine race, which the second machine race dismisses as unimportant because they are dying out. Yes, the second machine race repeatedly insists that machine races are immortal even though they know the first machine race is dying out. It's as if the writer is not really paying attention to his own book.
The new leader of this scientific expedition becomes domineering and the people complain about having to submit to his tyrannical micromanagement. But the expedition is cut off from earth, and the machine race are now providing the humans with living facilities and research equipment to continue their studies, which means, they could simply ignore their boss and do whatever they feel like doing. What's he going to do? Fire them? But for some reason, this doesn't occur to these deeply stupid characters, and they instead go through a charade to get the boss to relent.
After having read this twaddle, I find it impossible to understand why Ben Bova is such a highly-regarded author.