Mercury (Grand Tour Series #8)

Mercury (Grand Tour Series #8)

3.8 5
by Ben Bova
     
 

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The planet closest to our Sun, Mercury is a rocky, barren, heat-scorched world. But there are those who hope to find wealth in its desolation.

Saito Yamagata thinks Mercury's position makes it an ideal place to generate power to propel starships into deep space. Astrobiologist Victor Molina thinks the water at Mercury's poles may harbor evidence of life. Bishop

Overview

The planet closest to our Sun, Mercury is a rocky, barren, heat-scorched world. But there are those who hope to find wealth in its desolation.

Saito Yamagata thinks Mercury's position makes it an ideal place to generate power to propel starships into deep space. Astrobiologist Victor Molina thinks the water at Mercury's poles may harbor evidence of life. Bishop Elliot Danvers has been sent by the Earth-based "New Morality" to keep close tabs on Molina.

But all three of these men are blissfully unaware of their shared history, and of how it connects to the collapse of Mance Bracknell's geosynchronous space elevator a generation ago. Now they're about to find out, because Mance is determined to have his revenge…

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
In Mercury, one of the destinations on Ben Bova's epic Grand Tour saga (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, et al.), a disgraced engineer weaves an intricate plot to take down the people who ruined his life. The stage for his vengeance is the barren, heat-scorched planet of Mercury.

Maverick entrepreneur Saito Yamagata has come out of his self-imposed seclusion to begin a project on Mercury devoted to generating inexpensive power for the growing human habitations throughout the solar system. Also involved in the project are Victor Molina, a self-absorbed astrobiologist; Elliott Danvers, a sanctimonious preacher in the fanatical New Morality Church; and Dante Alexios, an intense, enigmatic engineer in charge of the mission. Unbeknownst to all, Alexios is actually Mance Bracknell, a visionary engineer turned pariah after the project he was heading -- the construction of a massive skytower in Ecuador -- crashed to earth, killing more than 4 million people. Danvers, Molina, and Yamagata all played integral roles in Bracknell's downfall: Danvers was a spy for the Church, Molina falsely implicated Bracknell during the subsequent trial and ended up marrying his fiancée, and Yamagata's corporation was behind the project's sabotage. Now decades later, Dante has his fiery revenge.

Like the other novels in Bova's Grand Tour -- a series of loosely connected tales about humankind's expansion throughout the solar system -- Mercury is built on hard science but powered by the emotional entanglements of its characters. While nothing in life is guaranteed, Ben Bova's storytelling prowess -- with his trademark blend of scientific speculation and enthralling romantic and political intrigue -- comes close. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Set in the same future universe as the author's asteroid series (The Silent War, etc.) and sharing such major players as the Yamagata Corporation and the religion of the New Morality, Hugo-winner Bova's well-plotted fourth planet novel (after 2003's Saturn) features a classic love triangle, backed by the occasional Greek chorus of scientific explanations. While astrobiologist Victor Molina and engineer Mance Bracknell (disguised as Dante Alexios) vie for the affections of Victor's wife, Lara Tierney Molina, Saito Yamagata attempts to create an efficient, inexpensive staging area on Mercury to send ships into deep space. Meanwhile, Bracknell schemes to exact revenge for his destroyed past. Ten years earlier, Bracknell's efforts to create another efficient, inexpensive method of launching spaceships called "The Sky Tower" was sabotaged by Bishop Danvers of the New Morality, as well as by Molina and Yamagata's son, Nobu. Millions of innocents died as a result. The moral questions raised by Bracknell's complicated retribution scenarios about the rights of victims for revenge and the immoral consequences of moral acts add depth to an otherwise standard tale of space adventure. Agent, Barbara Bova. (May 4) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the near future, the planet Mercury looms large in the sights of men and women who see Earth's future survival in harvesting the solar system. Some want to use the tiny planet as a satellite orbit point, others seek evidence of life in the polar water, while one man craves revenge for a past tragedy of monstrous proportions. Continuing his exploration of the solar system, sf veteran Bova presents a dramatic tale of ambition and vengeance coupled with an absorbing look at the inner solar system's smallest and most elusive planet. Fans of the author's technological expertise and his strong prospace bias should enjoy this action-packed tale. Recommended for most libraries. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another entry in Bova's series melodramatizing the near/medium-future exploration of the solar system (Powersat, 2004, etc.). This time, various movers and shakers are drawn to the planet Mercury. Ruthless industrialist Saito Yamagata, given a second life thanks to medical nanotechnology (he died of cancer, was frozen, revived and cured), conceives a grand idea: He will send mankind to the stars. So, Yamagata hires space engineer Dante Alexios to build a fleet of power satellites in orbit about Mercury. Laser boosts from the powersats will push spaceships to the stars. But Yamagata wonders why, though they hadn't met before, Alexios seems so familiar. Meanwhile, exobiologist Victor Molina receives an anonymous tip about some rocks found in a crater on Mercury. The rocks, Molina finds, bear traces of life! To Molina, also, Alexios seems weirdly familiar. Soon after, Molina triumphantly broadcasts his discoveries, Bishop Elliot Danvers of the reactionary New Morality arrives; his mission is to discredit Molina. It gives nothing away to mention the story's central section-Bova makes no attempt to conceal the broad outlines of his plot-in which, ten years ago, genius engineer Mance Bracknell built a space elevator; attacked by terrorists, the structure fell to Earth, killing millions. Bracknell was blamed, thanks in part to testimony by Molina and Danvers. Yamagata's role in the disaster was, apparently, even more direct. As a result, Bracknell was banished from Earth and lost the love of his life to Molina. No prizes for guessing who's who, and how this all links up. A humdrum addition to this wide-ranging but, lately, flagging series.
From the Publisher

“A guaranteed crowd-pleaser!” —Booklist on Mercury

“Recalls the work of Heinlein in his Destination Moon mode, or Hal Clement in any number of stories: a day-after-tomorrow tale crafted with near-journalistic purity…It's a difficult, demanding mode to pursue, and not many choose to nowadays. But Bova does it magnificently.” —Paul Di Filippo, Scifi.com, on Jupiter

“With Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein gone, Bova, author of more than 70 books, is one of the last deans of traditional science fiction. And he hasn't lost his touch. Venus scorches.” —Kansas City Star on Venus

“Bova gets better and better, combining plausible science with increasingly complex fiction.” —Los Angeles Daily News

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765304124
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
05/01/2005
Series:
Grand Tour Series, #8
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 8.66(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mercury

BOOK I THE REALM OF FIRE

No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change: Thy pyramids built up with newer might To me are nothing novel, nothing strange; They are but dressings of a former sight.

ARRIVAL

Saito Yamagata had to squint against the Sun's overwhelming glare, even through the heavily tinted visor of his helmet.

"This is truly the realm of fire," he whispered to himself. "Small wonder our ancestors worshiped you, Daystar."

Despite his instinctive unease, Yamagata felt physically comfortable enough inside his thickly insulated spacesuit; its cooling system and the radiators that projected from its back like a pair of dark oblong wings seemed to be working adequately. Still, the nearness, the overpowering brightness, the sheer size of that seething, churning ball of roiling gases made his nerves flutter. It seemed to fill the sky. Yamagata could see streamers arching up from the Sun's curved limb into the blackness of space, huge bridges of million-degree plasma expanding and then pouring back down onto the blazing, searing surface of the photosphere.

He shuddered inside the cramped confines of his suit. Enough sight-seeing, he told himself. You have proven your courage and audacity for all the crew and your guests to see and remember. Get back inside the ship. Get to work. It is time to begin your third life.

Yamagata had come to Mercury to seek salvation. A strange route to blessedness, he thought. I must first pass through this fiery inferno, like a Catholic serving time in purgatory before attaining heaven. He tried to shrug philosophically, found that it was impossible in the suit, so instead he lifted his left arm with the help of the suit's miniaturized servomotors and studied the keyboard wrapped around his wrist until he felt certain that he knew which keys he must touch to activate and control his suit's propulsion unit. He could call for assistance, he knew, but the loss of face was too much to risk. Despite the lamas' earnest attempts to teach him humility, Yamagata still held to hispride. If I go sailing out into infinity, he told himself, then I can call for help. And blame a suit malfunction, he added, with a sly grin.

He was pleased, then, when he was able to turn himself to face Himawari, the big, slowly rotating fusion torch ship that had brought him and his two guests to Mercury, and actually began jetting toward it at a sedate pace. With something of a shock Yamagata realized this was the first time he had ever been in space. All those years of his first life, building the power satellites and getting rich, he had remained firmly on Earth. Then he had died of cancer, been frozen, and reborn. Most of his second life he had spent in the lamasery in the Himalayas. He had never gone into space. Not until now.

Time to begin my third life, he said to himself as he neared Himawari. Time to atone for the first two.

Time for the stars.

Copyright © 2005 by Ben Bova

Meet the Author

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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3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the characters and pace of the story. Did not want it to end after 800 PAGES. This makes two books by this author and considering what's next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ChadAaronSayban More than 1 year ago
Mercury by, Ben Bova (2005), Tor Science Fiction ISBN - 978-0765343147 Ben Bova - who has been writing science fiction for more than 40 years, including books such as Moonrise and Titan - continues his Grand Tour series about the colonization of the solar system with Mercury. The story begins in the late 21st century as three characters - Astrobiologist Victor Molina, "New Morality" Bishop Elliot Danvers and Billionaire developer Saito Yamagata - come to the scorched surface of the planet closest to the sun. Each has their own myopic agenda, but they are all unaware that they have been lured there by Mance Bracknell so he can avenge the rolls that the three of them played in his destruction a decade earlier. The story really drags early on and it is difficult to have empathy for any of the characters. They are all uniformly shallow, egotistical and appear oblivious to what any of the others are doing. The second act goes back in time to try and explain where Mance's wrath originated and the pace of the storytelling picks up a bit, but by then there was little chance to salvage any interest in what would happen to any of the characters. In the finale, Mercury makes a clumsy attempt to make some sort of moral statement of the responsibility of big business and the evil of religious zealots in a future where seemly everyone lives as extremists, but by then the whole story seems unimportant. Even Bova's usually engaging science fiction imagery seems to have been sacrificed in this installment. Maybe it was a product of the barren landscape of Mercury, but there just wasn't anything interesting or unique about the world-building which is a prerequisite of science fiction writing. This book really failed to live up to some of Bova's other writing and it was a struggle to finish. Mercury is not one of his best works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bova's Grand Tour has taken us to the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. Now, on to Mercury. This book, however, is a bit different from the others. The planet Mercury is really just a bit player. In the other books, the planets (or Moon) themselves were co-stars. The Alexios (Bracknell)/Molina/Tierney love triangle is front and center. Most of the book actually is set on Earth and the Asteroid Belt, not Mercury. If you're into hard science fiction and want to know more about the planet, you won't find much here. Perhaps that's because Mercury is much less interesting than the other planets. As usual with Bova's stories, the characters are well-developed, with their own strong points and flaws. The story is well done and interesting. It's more romance novel and tale of revenge than science fiction. As long as you know what you're getting into, it's a pretty good read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Industrialist Saito Yamagata died from cancer, but his body was frozen, eventually nanotechnology provided a remedy, and cured him; he has a second chance at life and plans to live it to the fullest. He plans to provide mankind a venue to the solar system and ultimately the stars though a previous effort headed by Mance Bracknell a decade ago led to death and destruction, and ultimately exile of the chief engineer from Earth.................... To achieve his stellar objective and avoid the earthly disaster of Mance in which millions died, Saito hires Dante Alexios to build a fleet of satellites to orbit Mercury. From these man made moons, spaceships will venture throughout space. Though he is positive he never met his space engineer, Saito wonders why Dante seems so familiar to him in a déjà vu way. At the same time, exobiologist Victor Molina learns that rocks found on Mercury include remains of a life form. Victor turns to Dante for help, but wonders why the space engineer who he swears he never met before looks so familiar. Meanwhile Bishop Elliot Danvers of New Morality plans to disgrace Molina..................... Ben Bova provides an interesting science fiction thriller that will please his fans although ironically readers will know the connections between the prime characters long before most of the protagonists figure it out, which removes some of the air from the suspense. The cast is solid as readers will accept the brilliance and abilities of the different engineers to achieve their objectives including a personal agenda and the world they live in. Though not quite his best work, Mr. Bova writes a fine tale that paints an interesting picture of the future in outer space.................. Harriet Klausner