Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In continuing to explore the marvels of the solar system, Bova (Venus) tracks the metamorphosis of his protagonist, Grant Archer, from a selfish, petulant grad student into a man who does what's right despite massive pressures. Sent to study on Jupiter's orbital space station, rather than the more desirable lunar colony, astrophysicist Archer resents everyone and complains about his bad luck; he isn't even allowed to study in his field of expertise. The New Morality, the ultrareligious creationist group who controls the U.S., has given him the additional task of spying on the station's untrustworthy scientists who are suspected of looking for Jovian life. The mere existence of extraterrestrials would conflict with New Morality doctrine. Grant is a true believer, but he's also a scientist resentful of the New Morality's control over his life. When he's given a chance to aid in the Jovian research, he jumps at it, even though it means horrifying modifications to his body and repeated drownings. This easy read provides solid action and wonder with credible alien life forms and inspired technology for exploring the Jovian depths. Jupiter is a new favorite destination for sci-fi exploration, and Bova's take on the planet is unique and enticing. (Jan. 1) Forecast: Bova is one of the more popular SF writers--he's won six Hugos--and fans of Venus will delight in the continuation of the series, which gets a push in the Nov. issue of Locus, with Bova as the cover interview. Heavenly sales could ensue. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Although Bova has been writing hard science fiction for almost fifty years, his latest book might prove to be one of his best to date. In this true hero's journey, Grant Archer travels across the solar system to learn the fundamentals of his own beliefs and the truths of his society. Twenty-first-century Earth is governed by a loose coalition of religious theocracies. The New Morality is the one that governs North America. An astrophysics graduate student, Grant is sent to a research station in orbit around Jupiter. Before he leaves, he is instructed by an agent of the New Morality to inform the group of what the scientists are doing. On the station, rather than astrophysics research, Grant is assigned to work on the fluid dynamics of the Jovian atmosphere. Grant meets and interacts with the scientists and crewincluding a gorilla and two dolphinsstretching his worldview. He learns of a plan to send a manned probe to Jupiter, and upon the death of a crew member, he replaces her. Once in the atmosphere, Grant manages both to keep the crew of his damaged ship alive, and to initiate contact with the intelligent "whales" that inhabit the planet's acidic ocean. Before returning to the research station, Grant is called upon to make a decision that will determine not only his own future but that of the Jovian station as well. High schools students will identify with Grant's choice between taking the easy path, cooperating with the New Morality to further his own interests, and the more difficult decision to publicize the existence of Jovian life for the future good of the entire human race. This absorbing adult novel is highly recommended for thoughtful high school readers. VOYACODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Tor, 384p, . Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Marsha Valance SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Assigned by the New Morality, Earth's conservative ruling coalition, to act as its agent at a research station in orbit around the planet Jupiter, astrophysicist Grant Archer finds himself torn between his faith in God and his loyalty to science. Sf veteran Bova continues his exploration of the solar system begun in Venus (LJ 4/15/00) with another first-rate adventure that combines hard science with human drama to create a challenging and compelling tale of courage and conviction. Suitable for most sf collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
GRANT ARMSTRONG ARCHER III
Despite being born into one of the oldest families in Oregon, Grant Archer grew up in an environment that was far from affluent. His earliest memories were of watching his mother rummaging through piles of hand-me-down clothes at the Goodwill ship, looking for sweaters and gym shoes that weren't too shabby to wear to school.
His father was a Methodist minister in the little suburb of Salem where Grant grew up, respected as a man of the cloth but not taken too seriously in the community because he was, in the words of one of the golf club widows, "churchmouse poor."
Poor as far as money was concerned, but Grant's mother always told him that he was rich in the gift of intelligence. It was his mother, who worked in one of the multifarious offices of the New Morality in the state capital, who encouraged Grant's interest in science.
Most of the New Morality officials were suspicious of science and scientists, deeply worried about these "humanists" who so often contradicted the clear word of Scripture. Even Grant's father urged his son to steer clear of biology and any other scientific specialty that would bring the frowning scrutiny of New Morality investigators upon them.
For Grant there was no problem. Since he'd been old enough to look into the night sky with awe and wonder he'd wanted to be an astronomer. In high school, where he was by far the brightest student in his class, he narrowed his interest to the astrophysics of black holes. Although Grant thrilled to the discoveries on Mars and out among the distant moons of Jupiter, it was the death throes of giant stars that truly fascinated him. If he could learn how collapsed stars warped spacetime, he might one day discover a way for humans to use such warps for interstellar journeys.
He longed to work at the Farside Observatory on the Moon, studying collapsed stars far out in the cold and dark of deep interstellar space. Yet Grant had been warned that even at Farside there were tensions and outright dangers. Despite all the strictures of the New Morality and the stern rules laid down by the observatory's directors, some astronomers still tried to sneak time on the big telescopes to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. When such prohibited activities were discovered, those responsible were inevitably sent back to Earth in disgrace, their careers blighted.
That did not bother Grant, however. He intended to keep his nose clean, to avoid antagonizing the ever-present agents of the New Morality, and to study the enigmatic and entirely safe black holes. He was careful never to use the dreaded word "evolution" when speaking about the life cycles of stars and their final collapse into black holes. "Evolution" was a dangerous word among the New Morality eavesdroppers.
By the time he was finishing high school, he had grown into a quiet, square-shouldered young man with a thick thatch of sandy-blond hair that often tumbled over his light-brown eyes. He was good-natured and polite; the high school girls considered him a "delta" in their merciless rating system: okay as a friend, especially when it came to help with schoolwork, but too dull to date except in an emergency. A shade under six feet tall and whipcord learn, Grant played on the school's baseball and track teams, no outstanding star but the kind of reliable performer who made his coaches sleep better at night.
As his senior year approached, Grant was offered a full scholarship in return for a four-year commitment to Public Service. The service was inescapable: Every high school graduate was required to do at least two years and then another two at age fifty. The New Morality advisor in his high school told Grant that by accepting a four-year term now, he could get a full scholarship to the university of his choice, with the understanding that his Public Service would be in the field for which he was trained: astrophysics.
Grant accepted the scholarship and the commitment, his eyes still on Farside. He went to Harvard and, much to his delighted surprise, feel in love with a raven-haired biochemist named Marjorie Gold. She made him feel important, for the first time in his life. When he was with her, the quiet, steady, sandy-haired young astronomy student felt he could conquer the universe.
They married during their senior year even though he knew he'd be off to the Farside Observatory for four years while Marjorie would be doing her Public Service with the International Peacekeeping Force, tracking down clandestine biological warfare factories in the jungles of southeast Asia and Latin America.
But they were young and their love could not wait. So they married, despite their parents' misgivings.
"I'll come down from Farside at least every few months," Grant told her as they lay together in bed, contemplating the next four years.
"I'll get leave when you're here," Marjorie agreed.
"By the time I'm finished my four years I'll have my doctorate," he said.
"Then you can get on a tenure track at any university you like."
"And after the four years is over we can apply to have a child," Grant said.
"A boy," said Marjorie.
"Don't you want a daughter?"
"Afterward. After I learn how to be a mother. Then we can have a daughter."
He smiled in the darkness of their bedroom and kissed her and they made love. It was a safe time of Marjorie's cycle.
They both graduated with high honors; Grant was actually first in his class. Marjorie received her Public Service commission with the Peacekeepers, as expected. Grant, though, was shocked when his orders sent him not to the Farside Observatory on the Moon but to Research Station Thomas Gold, in orbit around Jupiter, more than seven hundred million kilometers from Marjorie at its closest approach to Earth.
Copyright © 2001 by Ben Bova