The year is 2035, and the first manned mission to Mars is getting underway.
During the long transit, disaster strikes and our heroes must find a way to survive.
While the story itself is engaging in an adventure novel kind of way, the prose is not. Much of the dialogue feels written to explain things to the reader. It makes the characters look clueless about the systems and concepts they should be experts on. It is also rather corny most of the time.
The social sensibilities are very old fashioned. Males taking the lead and feeling protective about women even if those women are highly trained astronauts. The technology doesn’t feel very futuristic either. In a nutshell, the book is set in 2035, but feels like 2015, or maybe 1965.
Part two of the Asteroid Wars. I used to keep coming back to Bova and his Grand Tour of the Solar System. Maybe I’m just a sucker for near future tales of men and women trying to tame the solar system. This book made me stop. It is just plain boring. Amanda may be beautiful but she and the other characters feel about as emotional as puppets. Furthermore, I simply don’t buy the story. After slogging through about half the book, I gave up.
Part one of the Asteroid Wars series (and overall part of Bova’s Grand Tour of the Solar System), in which Mr. Bova takes us on yet another journey through corporate near future space. A decent read if you like Bova, but nothing special.
One again, a planet book from Bova and part of his Grand Tour of the Solar System. This one is not quite as good as Jupiter but heroism and high adventure abound. Bova is seemingly attempting to tie many of his works together, just as Asimov did near the end of his career. Neither effort seems particularly well executed, as it is rather difficult to bend old novels into new meanings. Still, Venus as a standalone s not bad.
Although I am getting a bit bored with the titles in Bova’s “Grand Tour of the Solar System“, Jupiter is pretty cool, with the crew having to live in an oxygenated liquid in order to cope with the crushing pressures of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Luckily, the question, of, erhm, human waste in such a system is not examined too closely.
There have been many books of the first landing on Mars. If you want a truly epic and far reaching story, read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. Personally, however, I prefer Bova’s version. It is neither complex nor particularly groundbreaking, but it is solid and has a certain charm in its space buff wish fulfillment. Both books are good, although the first is somewhat stronger.
Fairly interesting tale about the colonization of the moon. Although he might not have planned it that way originally, Moonwar kicked off Bova’s “Grand Tour of the Solar System” series. All in all, the Moon books are enjoyable, but not outstanding. The rather bleak ecodisaster future for the Earth often used as a backdrop by Bova is, I think, first portrayed here.
The Sam Gunn stories are now published in one omnibus edition. They really bring out the best in Bova. His hero Sam Gunn is a sort of space entrepreneur/adventurer, presumably inspired by explorers from human history such as Columbus and Shackleton. I also believe that Sam Gunn is Ben Bova’s alter ego, or the man he wishes he was. Lighthearted and thoroughly enjoyable, I recommend Sam Gunn to any fan of near future stories and space exploration.
In To Save the Sun, humans rule a vast empire. It is discovered that the Sun is dying. A lethargic entity, the empire arrives at the consensus that humanity will evacuate the Solar System and move to other solar systems in the empire. One woman, however, feels that saving the sun would be both a symbolic gesture worthy of humanity, and a way to get humanity moving towards a common goal, as well as developing new technology. In short, a way to drive change in a society which has become too comfortable with the status quo, and in which progress has become a distant concept. The sequel is simply a continuation of events, but the first book can be read as a standalone. Unfortunately, both books feel rather unfocused on both the central story and the central theme. The main characters are not really fleshed out the way they could be. Since I very much like the thematic concepts, I was rather disappointed. It is, however, still an adequate read.
Mysterious Big Dumb Objects have been found on Titan. It appears that they have been placed there by the “Others”, who will return to threaten mankind. Although somewhat disjointed and lacking focus, I nevertheless enjoyed this story of mankind under an unknown threat. The novel is vaguely connected with the Orion series.
Widely considered to be Bova’s masterpiece, I never really figured out these books (and yet for some reason I read three of them). Our titular hero loses his memory, fights evil as he jumps back and forth in different eras of past and future. These jumps are more or less out of his control. He constantly loses and regains his beloved. The first book is decent, but after that it’s really just rinse and repeat and they blend into each other in my memory. I gave up after book three.
Three books way back when it was published, but nowadays collected in an omnibus, The Exiles Trilogy is about a group of humans on an orbiting habitat and how they are exiled from earth. Engaging and competently written, it has unfortunately aged pretty badly.
Although a bit dated, and somewhat simplistic, this rough and ready tale of Martian grassroots insurrection is fun. The coming of age story contained within is, although not terribly original, well written and engaging. If you can look past the nineteen seventies vintage stuff, this will keep you entertained for an evening or two.