Leviathans of Jupiterby Ben Bova
In Ben Bova's novel JUPITER, physicist Grant Archer led an expedition into Jupiter's hostile planetwide ocean, attempting to study the unusual and massive creatures that call the planet their home. Unprepared for the hostile environment and crushing pressures, Grant's team faced certain death as their ship malfunctioned and slowly sank to the planet's depths.
In Ben Bova's novel JUPITER, physicist Grant Archer led an expedition into Jupiter's hostile planetwide ocean, attempting to study the unusual and massive creatures that call the planet their home. Unprepared for the hostile environment and crushing pressures, Grant's team faced certain death as their ship malfunctioned and slowly sank to the planet's depths. However one of Jupiter's native creatures--a city-sized leviathan--saved the doomed ship. This creature's act convinced Grant that the huge creatures were intelligent, but he lacked scientific proof.
Now, several years later, Grant prepares a new expedition to prove once and for all that the huge creatures are intelligent. The new team faces dangers from both the hostile environment and from humans who will do anything to make sure the mission is a failure, even if it means murdering the entire crew.
One of Library Journal's Best SF/Fantasy Books of 2011
Book 13 in Bova's Grand Tour series, and a direct sequel to Jupiter (2001), wherein physicist Grant Archer led an expedition into Jupiter's planetary ocean in an attempt to study the enormous creatures that inhabit it.
Now director of the research station orbiting Jupiter, Archer has a staff of scientists ready and eager to send a vessel of highly advanced design into Jupiter's ocean hoping to communicate with the Leviathans, whom they suspect are intelligent. Before the expedition gets underway, however, super-rich paranoid megalomaniac Katherine Westfall arrives, determined to shut down the research for her own mad reasons. Finally, the vessel launches with four crew members aboard: curvaceous grad student Deirdre Ambrose; lanky, color-blind dolphin-communications specialist Andy Corvus; Dorn, previously a murdering cyborg, now a philosopher; and lecherous ship's designer Max Yeager. So enormous are the pressures in Jupiter's deep waters that they must breathe oxygenated fluid despite the vessel's crush-resistant design. On the station, Westfall goes through her humdrum evil machinations. Under water, the humans debate whether the Leviathans are intelligent, just as the Leviathans wonder the same about them. Had Bova devoted some serious thought and effort to developing his lumpish aliens, it would have been possible to overlook this horrendous casting-by-numbers and blatantly obvious plotting. But the upshot, with the exception of a few dozen pages of real excitement, is tedium alternating with embarrassment.
A book that has "contractual obligation" stamped all over it.
Read an Excerpt
Leviathans of Jupiter
By Ben Bova
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2011 Ben Bova
All rights reserved.
CERES ORBIT: CHRYSALIS II HABITAT
Big George Ambrose was far from happy.
"I still don't see why they need a fookin' microbiologist," he grumbled. "Bloody beasts on Jupiter are big as mountains, aren't they?"
His daughter Deirdre nodded in agreement. The two of them were waiting in Chrysalis II's departure lounge for the torch ship from the Earth/Moon system to dock at the habitat. No one else was in the departure lounge; no one else from the habitat was heading for Jupiter.
They did not look much like father and daughter. George was a huge bushy mountain of a man, with a tangled mop of brick red hair and a thick unruly beard to match, both bearing the first telltale streaks of silver. Deirdre was almost as tall as he, but seemed dwarfed next to him. She was strikingly beautiful, though, with wide innocent almond eyes that had a slight oriental cast to them and high cheekbones, thanks to her mother. She had her father's strong jaw and auburn hair that glowed like molten copper as it streamed down past her shoulders. She was wearing a simple pullover blouse and comfortable slacks, but they couldn't hide the supple curves of her ample figure.
"You'll miss my retirement party," George growled.
"I'm sorry about that," Deirdre said. "But they promised me a full scholarship to the Sorbonne if I'd put in a year at the research station in Jupiter orbit. A full scholarship, Daddy!"
"Yes! On Earth!"
George shook his shaggy head. "Earth's a dangerous place. Too many people. All sorts of diseases and maniacs runnin' around."
"Daddy, it's Earth!" Deirdre exclaimed. "It's civilization. It's culture. I don't want to spend my whole life cooped up in this habitat. I know you love it, but I want to see the real world!"
George muttered something too low for his daughter to catch.
George Ambrose had been director of the rock rats' habitat orbiting the asteroid Ceres for the past quarter century. He had helped build the original Chrysalis for the miners and prospectors who combed the Asteroid Belt in search of the metals and minerals that fed the human race's expansion through the solar system. He had directed the building of Chrysalis II when the rock rats' first habitat had been destroyed in the Asteroid Wars.
And he had presided over the trial of the mercenary killer who had wiped out the original habitat.
Now he stood with his only daughter scowling at the display screen that spread across one entire bulkhead of the departure lounge. It showed the long, sleek torch ship from Earth making the final delicate maneuvers of its rendezvous with the slowly revolving wheel of the habitat. George saw tiny puffs of cold gas squirting from the ship's maneuvering rockets: thruster farts, he said to himself.
Like most of the habitat, the departure lounge was strictly utilitarian: a row of hard benches ran along its facing gray bulkheads, the scuffed, dull heavy steel hatch of the airlock between them. No windows; the only outside view was from the wide display screen that stretched above one of the benches.
Across from the wall screen, though, was a mural that Deirdre had painted as a teenager, a seascape she had copied from memory after studying a docudrama about Earth's oceans. Deirdre's murals decorated many of the otherwise drab sections of the habitat: Even the crude, gaudy daubings she had done as a child still remained on the otherwise colorless bulkheads of Chrysalis II. They were little better than graffiti, but her father would not permit anyone to remove them. He was proud of his daughter's artistry, which had grown deeper and richer as she herself blossomed into adulthood.
But George was not admiring his daughter's artwork now. Still staring at the display screen, he impatiently called out, "Screen, show Ceres."
The display obediently shifted from the approaching torch ship to show the cratered, dusty rock of the asteroid around which the habitat orbited. Largest of the 'roids in the Belt, Ceres was barely a thousand kilometers across, an oversized boulder, dusty, pitted, dead. Beyond its curving limb there was nothing but the dark emptiness of infinity, laced with hard pinpoints of stars bright enough to shine through the camera's protective filters.
Big George clasped his hands behind his back as he stared at the unblinking stars.
"I only came out here to get rich quick and then go back to Earth," he muttered. "Never thought I'd spend the rest of my fookin' life in the Belt."
Deirdre gave her father a sympathetic smile. "You can go back Earthside any time you want to."
He shook his shaggy head. "Nah. Been away too long. I'd be a stranger there. Leastways, I got some friends here. ..."
"Tons of friends," Deirdre said.
"And your mother's ashes."
Deirdre nodded. Mom's been dead for nearly five years, she thought, but he still mourns her.
"You can visit me on Earth," she said brightly. "You won't be a total stranger."
"Yeah," he said, without enthusiasm. "Maybe."
"I really have to go on this ship, Daddy. I've got to get to Jupiter; otherwise I won't get the scholarship."
"I could send you to school on Earth, if that's what you want. I can afford it."
"That's what I want," she said gently. "And now I can get it without putting the burden on you."
"That ship'll be burning out to Jupiter at one full g, y'know," George said. "Six times heavier than here."
"I've put in tons of hours in the centrifuge, Daddy. I can handle it. The station orbiting Jupiter is one-sixth gravity, just like here."
George nodded absently. Deirdre thought he had run out of objections.
They felt the slightest of tremors and the speaker built into the overhead announced, "DOCKING COMPLETED."
George looked almost startled. "I guess I never thought about you leavin'."
"I'd have to go, sooner or later."
"Yeah, I know, but ..."
"If you don't want me to go ..."
"Nah." He shook his head fiercely. "You don't want to get stuck here the rest o' your life, like me."
"I'll come back, Dad."
George shrugged. "It's a big world out there. Lots of things to see and do. Lots of places for a bright young woman to make a life for herself."
Deirdre didn't know what to say.
His scowl returning, George said, "Just don't let any of those sweet-talkin' blokes take advantage of you. Hear?"
She broke into a giggle. "Oh, Daddy, I know how to take care of myself."
"Yeah. Maybe. But I won't be there to protect you, y'know."
Deirdre grabbed him by his unkempt beard with both hands, the way she had since she'd been a baby, and pecked at his cheek.
"I love you, Daddy."
George blushed. But he clasped his daughter by both shoulders and kissed her solidly on the forehead. "I love you, Dee Dee."
The airlock hatch swung open with a sighing puff of overly warm air. A short, sour-faced Asian man in a deep blue uniform trimmed with an officer's gold braid stepped through and snapped, "Deirdre Ambrose?"
"This way," the Asian said, gesturing curtly toward the passageway beyond the airlock hatch.
George Ambrose watched his only child disappear into the passageway, the first step on her journey to Jupiter. And then to Earth. I'll never see her again, he thought. Never.
Then he muttered, "I still don't see why they need a fookin' microbiologist."CHAPTER 2
FUSION TORCH SHIP AUSTRALIA
Suppressing an impulse to look back over her shoulder for one last glimpse of her father, Deirdre stepped carefully along the curving tube that connected the Chrysalis II habitat to the fusion ship. She could feel her pulse thumping along her veins. Chrysalis II was all the home she had ever known. She was heading into the new, the unknown. It was exciting — and a little scary.
The tube felt warmer than she was accustomed to. Its walls glowed softly white, as if fluorescent, with a spiral motif threading along its length. The flooring felt slightly spongy to her tread, not hard and solid like the decks of the habitat. She knew it was her imagination, but somehow she felt slightly heavier, as if the docked torch ship had a stronger gravity field than the habitat she was leaving.
She heard the airlock hatch clang shut behind her and a moment later the crabby-looking little ship's officer scurried past her without speaking a word and disappeared around the curve of the tube. He's not very friendly, Deirdre thought.
When she got to the end of the tube he was standing there, by the ship's gleaming metal airlock, glaring at her with obvious impatience.
"Embarkation desk," he said, jabbing a thumb past the hatch.
Deirdre stepped through the open hatch into a compartment of bare metal bulkheads, not much bigger than a closet. There were three ordinary-looking doors set into the bulkhead opposite her. She hesitated, not sure of which door she was meant to take.
"Right-hand side," the officer snapped from the other side of the hatch, pointing again.
Deirdre opened the door and immediately saw that the torch ship's interior was colorfully decorated. The compartment's walls were covered with brightly patterned fabric. The overhead glowed with glareless lighting. The deck was thickly carpeted in rich earth tones of green and brown. Carpets! she thought. Incredible luxury, compared to Chrysalis II's utilitarian décor. And this is just an anteroom, she realized.
In front of her there was another door, marked EMBARKATION RECEPTION. Deirdre tapped on it, and when no one answered, she cautiously slid it open.
A man in a white uniform was sitting behind a metal desk in the middle of the compartment. The bulkheads on both sides glowed pearl gray: smart screens, Deirdre recognized. Behind the seated officer another wall screen displayed a scene of golden-leafed trees, a forest of Earth, heartbreakingly beautiful.
The man got slowly to his feet. He, too, was Asian, and no taller than Deirdre's chin. He smiled and made a courtly little bow, fists clenched at his sides.
"Welcome to Australia," he said. Gesturing to the gracefully curved chair of leather and chrome in front of the desk, he invited, "Please, Ms. Ambrose, be seated and allow me to introduce myself: I am Dr. Lin Pohan, ship's medical officer."
Dr. Pohan was as small as the surly officer who had ushered Deirdre aboard the Australia. He was almost totally bald, except for a fringe of dull gray hair, but a luxuriant mustache of silver gray curled across his face. His skin was spiderwebbed with creases, and as he smiled at Deirdre his eyes crinkled with good humor. He looked like a wrinkled old gnome to Deirdre. She realized this man had never taken rejuvenation treatments. She had learned in her history classes that some people on Earth shunned rejuv on religious grounds. Could he be one of them?
"I'm pleased to meet you," she said, a little hesitantly.
Dr. Pohan bobbed his head up and down, then replied, "We must go through the formalities of checking your boarding file and medical record."
"That should all be in your computer," Deirdre said.
"Yes, of course. But then I'm afraid I must subject you to a complete physical examination."
"But my medical records —"
"Not good enough," said Dr. Pohan, almost jovially. "You see, we have had a death aboard ship on our way out here from Earth. It is my duty to make certain we don't have any others."
"A death? Someone died?"
"One of the passengers. Most unusual. And most puzzling. If I can't track down the reason for it, we will not be allowed to disembark our passengers. We will have made the long voyage to Jupiter for nothing."CHAPTER 3
Australia was a passenger vessel, designed to carry paying customers swiftly from the Earth/Moon system out to the rock rats' habitat in orbit around the asteroid Ceres. It was built like a slim tower, with a dozen decks between the bridge in the ship's nose and the fusion propulsion plant at its tail. Unlike the cumbersome ore ships that plodded across the inner solar system, Australia drove through space under constant acceleration, usually at one Earth-normal gravity or close to it, accelerating half the distance, then flipping over and decelerating the rest of the way. Except for the brief periods of docking or turn-around, the passengers would feel a comfortable one g environment for the entire voyage. Comfortable, that is, for those who were accustomed to Earth-normal gravity.
This trip was special, though. Instead of terminating at Ceres and then heading back Earthward, Australia was going on to the research station in orbit around the giant planet Jupiter, a journey that would take an additional two weeks from Ceres.
Captain Tomas Guerra's quarters were up at the top of the stack, within a few steps of the bridge. The rooms were comfortable without being overly sumptuous. Guerra did not believe in showy displays of privilege: He kept the décor of his quarters quite simple, almost minimalist. Bulkheads covered in brushed aluminum. A few silk screen paintings of misty mountains and terraced rice paddies on the display screens. Spare, graceful Scandinavian furniture. His one obvious display of luxury was his set of solid gold cups in which he served sherry to special guests.
Katherine Westfall was indeed a very special guest. Reputedly the wealthiest woman in the solar system, she was a member of the powerful governing council of the International Astronautical Authority, the agency that controlled all spaceflight and much of the scientific research done off-Earth. Rumor had it that she was being considered for the chairmanship of the council.
"It's very good of you to invite me to dinner," said Katherine Westfall, in a hushed, little-girl voice.
Captain Guerra dipped his gray-bearded chin once. "It is very good of you to take the time to join me."
Katherine Westfall was as slender and petite as a ballerina, and like a dancer she calculated virtually every move she made far in advance — as well as every word she spoke. She should have been at ease in the comfortably upholstered recliner in the captain's sitting room, but as she smiled demurely at the man he got the impression from her steel gray eyes that she was wary, on guard.
"I hope you weren't inconvenienced by the lower gravity while we were docked with Chrysalis," the captain said politely. "The rock rats keep their habitat at lunar g."
Katherine Westfall thought a moment, then replied, "It was rather exhilarating, actually."
"Low g can be stimulating, can't it?" the captain said. "But we make better time under a full gravity. Once I had to make an emergency high-thrust run to the research station in Venus orbit: two g." He shook his head. "Not comfortable at all. Good thing it was only for a few days."
Captain Guerra had lived on his ship since receiving his commission from the IAA many years earlier. The ship was home, his life, his reason for existence. Rarely did he go down dirtside at the Moon or Earth. He had never deigned to set foot on the Chrysalis II habitat orbiting Ceres in the Asteroid Belt or the Thomas Gold research station at Jupiter. Nor the scientific bases on Mars, or orbiting Venus. To say nothing of the massive habitat in orbit around Saturn, which he regarded as little more than a penal colony. Mercury he had visited once, briefly, because he had to oversee the unloading of a cargo of construction materials there. But most of his time he spent aboard his ship, his mistress, the love of his life.
Of course, he did not lead a completely celibate life. Sometimes very attractive women booked passage on Australia, and rank has its privileges. He wondered if Katherine Westfall would succumb to the romance of interplanetary flight. She hadn't given a hint of such interest over the weeks since they'd left the Earth/Moon system, but still it was a pleasant possibility.
He had once been lean and sinewy, but the years of easy living as he ran Australia across the solar system had plumped his wiry frame. Now, as he sat facing the IAA councilwoman, he looked as well padded as the seat he reclined in.
Guerra poured two heavy gold cups of sherry, handed one to Mrs. Westfall, then touched the rim of his cup to hers.
"To a pleasant journey," he said.
"It's been quite pleasant so far," Katherine Westfall said, with a smile. She sipped delicately.
"I am curious," said the captain, "as to the reason for your traveling all the way out to Jupiter."
For a moment she did not reply, simply gazed at the captain with her gray eyes half closed, obviously thinking about what her answer should be. Her face was long and narrow, with a pointed chin and nose so perfect it could only be the product of cosmetic surgery. Her hair was the color of golden brown honey, stylishly cut to frame her face like a tawny helmet. She wore a pale blue business suit, simple and unadorned, except for an egg-sized sapphire brooch on its lapel.
"As a member of the International Astronautical Authority governing council," she said at last, so softly that the captain had to lean toward her to hear her words, "I feel it's my duty to personally review each major research facility the IAA is supporting throughout the solar system."
Captain Guerra nodded. "Starting with Jupiter?"
"Starting with the Gold station," Katherine Westfall concurred. Then a slightly impish smile curved her lips. "I feel one should always go for the gold."
Excerpted from Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova. Copyright © 2011 Ben Bova. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction's Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova's writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.
Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction’s Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova’s writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Good old-fashioned science fiction. Finding non-human intelligent creatures. No mayhem.
Never been big on Bova but found this fun.
The book opens with George Ambrose (from the ¿Asteroid Wars¿ series) and his Daughter Deirdra waiting for a ship to take her to Jupiter where she is to work and studies to earn a full scholarship to a university back on Earth. Deirdra had never been away from the Habitat in the Asteroids before but she looked forward to the trip and to her future. On the journey out she meet three men who be come best of friends, when she finds that she has been infected with a deadly disease, and is being forced to spy for an IAA representative Mrs. WestFall. WestFall wants to stop the exploration of the great ocean that lies at the core of Jupiter, where the Leviathans (First found in the Book ¿Jupiter¿). The question remains, are they intelligent or not. This is one of the funniest books that Ben Bova has written (The crime dose fit the punishment), lots of action, and new discoveries. As in all the books in the tour series you will meet new friends, old friends and children of old friends. Just one book out of the many, start at the beginning and read them all, to get a picture of Earth¿s future and human interaction both good and bad. AndyofPBMO
Two decades ago physicist Grant Archer and his team encountered the Leviathans of Jupiter in the worldwide ocean (see Jupiter). When one of these beasts saved his life and that of his crew as their ship sank, he knew they had to be sentient. However, one anecdotal incident does not prove scientifically his assertion as true. Now as director a research station on Jupiter, Grant plans to prove his hypothesis that the city-sized oceanic leviathans are intelligent. His supportive crew includes biologist Deidre Ambrose; deep brain expert Andy Corvus; Dorn the cyber who fought in the Asteroid Wars; and engineering physicist Maxwell Yeager. Meanwhile International Astronomical Authority expert Katherine Westfall heads to Jupiter. Her mission is to shut down Archer and his team by concealing her motive behind finances. Fascinatingly, the leviathans easily steal the show as Ben Bova brilliantly gets inside their head displaying their perceptions of reality. Comparative anthropology leaves the humans flat especially a forced romance that feels more like a requirement than a key subplot. Still fans of the Grand Tour will relish the entertaining Return to study the Leviathans of Jupiter. Harriet Klausner