Top positive review
Venus is a Very Enjoyable and Well-Crafted Space Exploration Adventure from Ben Bova
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.