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Venus (Grand Tour Series #4)

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2003

    The Reluctant Astronaut

    I realize the above phrase may trivialize this novel's import, but the truth is that this story is narrated by a 25-year-old man suffering from pernicious anemia who is forced into a voyage to Earth's sister planet by his domineering, spiteful father. Van Humphries is not brave, he is not a pioneer by nature, he doesn't even have a clear vision of what he wants to do with his life. But he is tired of his father's iron fist, his father's ceaseless criticism, and so he voluntarily, tremulously embarks on a voyage that could very well kill him. In short, a reluctant astronaut. The reader will sympathize with any number of characters...and despise others. This is not an action-without-character-development sci-fi story. This a real story about people plagued by doubts and suspicions, who are looking for the truth, set against the backdrop of interplanetary exploration in the late 21st century. Van Humphries freely admits he's never been in love, he half-agrees with his father's disdain of himself (for he was sickly and weak from birth), and he rationalizes his fears and lack of ambition adroitly. But above all else, Van worships his brother, and he is determined to discover what killed him. For Van Humphries will be the second man to land on Venus--his brother was the first. And he never came back. Ben Bova offers an excellent Venus 101, sharing elementary facts about the planet without condescension. Each scientific fact is well laid out, and each scientific speculation is presented in a believable context. You feel the 900-degree-heat of Venus' surface. You choke on its sulfuric atmosphere. You wonder if you've discovered Hell itself. I recommend Ben Bova unreservedly; I remember his name from Omni Magazine (yes, I'm that old), but this is my first exposure to one of his novels. I intend to read more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2001

    Is Bova getting too commercial?

    Although this was a wonderfully written book and was jam packed with action and a fast read. I had to wonder if Ben Bova is getting a little too commercial. His previous book Mars was about serious scientists exploring the planet Mars and stories of character's personal lives were kept to a minimum. Mars focused on Mars. This book focused on a very self-absorbed character and his personal relationships and the science seemed more like a back drop. Also the brief look at potential life on Venus looked more like something out of Star Trek.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

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