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  • Venus
  • Customer reviews

on July 11, 2012
Venus by Ben Bova is part of the author's Grand Tour series, which deals with the exploration of the planets in our solar system. Venus is the nearest planet to Earth and about the same size as Earth. However, it is closer to the Sun than Earth and Bova describes Venus as "the most hellish place in the solar system." Its atmosphere is dominated by sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide, with only negligible traces of oxygen and nitrogen. The surface temperatures are well above 450 degrees Celsius (nearly 900 degree Fahrenheit) and the atmospheric pressure at ground level is equal to the pressure more than a kilometer below the surface of an ocean on Earth. In addition, Venus rotates around its axis so slowly that a single Venusian day is 225 Earth days. The "hellish" environment has prohibited Earthlings from establishing any colonies on Venus and even from exploring the planet. Unmanned probes have gathered some information, but all of them ceased their data transmission within very short time frames after entering the Venusian atmosphere. However, three years ago Alex Humphries and his crew made the voyage to Venus and he attempted to land on the Venusian surface, but no one survived that voyage. Now Alex's father, a very wealthy, powerful and ruthless industrialist/business man has offered a reward of ten billion dollars to anyone who succeeds in locating his son's remains and returning them to Earth. Van Humphries, Alex's younger brother, accepts the challenge even though he has no realistic experience that would indicate he could be successful in such a venture and he has a serious blood condition that requires regular medication. However Van embarks on the recovery mission to Venus because his father previously informed him that he will no longer support him and Van needs the money, and also because he loved his older brother. As usual, Bova weaves a complex story including much plausible scientific data and action. Van and his crew encounter much hardship, danger, and tragedy in the Venusian atmosphere, beginning shortly after they descend into the upper atmosphere and discover that something is eating away the hull of their ship. During the trip, Van evolves into a strong leader who accepts responsibility for decisions and risks his life for the mission. In addition, he must risk accepting the help of Lars Fuchs, a bitter enemy of his father and a competitor in the competition to retrieve Alex's body and win the $10 billion reward. Venus is another very enjoyable and well-crafted space exploration adventure. The characters are very well developed, unique, and believable. This book provides much tension and suspenseful action and it kept me reading with enthusiasm until the very satisfying conclusion.
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on October 26, 2011
As a disclaimer for my review, I'll mention that I'm trying to read all of the Grand Tour (19ish) books by Ben Bova in their chronological order - which is not the order they were written in. Vensu is the 18th book in the chronological order suggested by the Author.

Taking place about ten years after the conclusion of the Asteroid wars, Venus begins when billionaire industrialist and all around horrible person, Martin Humphries, owner of Humprhies space systems issues a ten billion dollar reward to any one who can recover the body of his oldest son, Alex, from the surface of Venus. Answering the call are Humphries younger (and estranged) son, Van, a frail and sickly "runt," and Martin's arch rival from the Asteroid Wars, Lars Fuchs. Van and Lars will race against each other and the unforgiving climate of Venus to recover Alex's remains and claim the reward. Van wants to stick it to his old man and prove he is not the runt. Fuchs just wants revenge. However, Venus may force them to work together if they want to survive, let alone take home the prize.

After reading seventeen previous Grand Tour books, I'll say that Venus was one of the most exciting. Unlike some of the planetary books in the Grand Tour series where the planet the book is named for was only an afterthought in the plot, Venus if prominently featured and plays an antagonistic role throughout the novel. The discoveries made on Venus and in it's atmosphere were well done and believable, making the exploration and the search for Alex's crashed space craft feel true and doing a fantastic job in bringing the reader into the story.

Several of the characters in Venus are repeat players in the Grand Tour series and they have rarely been done better. Martin Humphries has continued to fall into megalomania, living on the moon and spending millions throwing wild, depraved parties for himself. Lars Fuchs has become so focused on revenge against the man (Martin Humpries) who took his wife, business and freedom that he can focus on nothing else. Bova isn't always known for creating dynamic, well fleshed out characters, but I think he succeeds in Venus. Even a typical Ben Bova love triangle is kept low-key enough not to become annoying as they have in other Grand Tour books.

If you like fast-paced but well detailed sci-fi adventure, you can do a lot worse than Venus.
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on July 9, 2013
Another in Ben Bova's 'Grand Tour' series, but this one is pretty much a stand alone and has little relation to other books except the general solar system exploration theme. Some characters are apparently from the Asteroid Wars books, but as I have not read any of them it didn't matter to me.

I'm a sucker for a decent scientific exploration story, so all of this series are pretty fascinating from my point of view. This one is about a mission to Venus (obviously) and a subsequent trip down through the clouds to the surface. Written in 2001, the description of Venus is fairly consistent with modern scientific theory and known facts. Ben Bova weaves and entertaining, although occasionally implausible, story and does a good job of proposing technology to explore Venus. Characters were decent, with one major plot twist that I did not see coming.

The book more or less wraps up as a stand alone. There is one loose end so there is always an opening there for a sequel if he ever decides to write one. I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the 'Mars' books, but still a slightly above average and enjoyable read.
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on March 10, 2015
After the three Mars books, I enjoyed Venus the most. VERY entertaining. He has a way of combining great characters into interesting groups.
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on June 20, 2016
Love the series
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on July 21, 2011
I've read Bova off and on over the years. I enjoy his brand of easy-going sci-fi. He's usually an easy read with a decent story. This time I wasn't so sure. Basically, the premise is that, in order to gain his father's acceptance, along with a fortune, a young adventurer travels to Venus to locate and retrieve the remains of his brother, killed in an earlier expedition.

In Venus, characters feel a little too one-dimensional. The main character is annoying, childish, and I found it hard to care for him. The supporting cast were worse, there wasn't anyone I care much about, and I found myself reading only to find out "what happened" from a sense of obligation to get my money's worth, and less because I really cared.

What I found particularly frustrating, and I am tired of finding this in Kindle books, are the formatting and typos. I'm sorry, but there is just no excuse for this. Surely, the original manuscript must be in a PDF somewhere? Does no one, proof read these things? It's bad enough to find hyphens in the middle of lines, separating words mid-sentence, but there are also instances where parts of words are replaced, so that any word that begins "Li" becomes "U". It really messes up the flow. I thing it's terrible, especially when people are paying for something.

However, even with no typos or other errors, this book isn't great. I'd borrow it before paying for it.
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on January 26, 2014
The story line and some of the characters are a little contrived, so I wouldn't rate this as one of Mr Bova's best. However I did enjoy the book and will continue to purchase his other books.
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on December 15, 2013
Two men set off to win a prize by retrieving the remains of the leader of an earlier expedition. But an underlying link between the two may mean life . . .or death for both of them. A good read.
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on August 17, 2015
Thought provoking and entertaining. Great science fiction.
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on July 28, 2014
I like this story line, but again, Bova's characters seem to lack dimension. The scenes are fun, though and would make a good movie,.
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