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The Rock Rats (Asteroid Wars Series #2)

The Rock Rats (Asteroid Wars Series #2)

4.3 8
by Ben Bova

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Visionary space industrialist Dan Randolph is dead-but his protégé, pilot Pancho Barnes, now sits on the board of his conglomerate. She has her work cut out for her. For Randolph's rival Martin Humphries still wants to control Astro and still wants to drive independent asteroid miners like Lars Fuchs out of business. Humphries wants revenge against


Visionary space industrialist Dan Randolph is dead-but his protégé, pilot Pancho Barnes, now sits on the board of his conglomerate. She has her work cut out for her. For Randolph's rival Martin Humphries still wants to control Astro and still wants to drive independent asteroid miners like Lars Fuchs out of business. Humphries wants revenge against Pancho-ands, most of all, he wants his old flame Amanda, who has become Lars Fuchs's wife.

In the struggle over the incalculable wealth of the Asteroid Belt, many will die-and many will achieve more than they ever dreamed was possible.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Bova in top form.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Compelling.” —Booklist

“Hard-charging. . . . Ambitiously juggling elements of space opera, western, and Sophoclean drama, Bova keeps the pages turning.” —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Noted space expert Bova returns to his planetary future history (Moonrise, etc.) in a hard-charging continuation of the battle for the Asteroid Belt begun in The Precipice (2001). Positing an Earth on the brink of eco-catastrophe, a recently independent moon and a frontier filled with prospectors and claim-jumpers out among the asteroids, it is a story that at first appears to be very familiar. But mixed in with the high-tech optimism and libertarian good faith are the darker elements of an older dramatic tradition. Keeping his themes classical love, jealousy, greed Bova gives his tale energy and focus through a love triangle that evolves into a vendetta. Lars Fuchs finds that he and new wife Amanda can't escape from the attentions of Martin Humphries, his rival for both Amanda and the Belt's mineral wealth. Trying to establish a home on Ceres, Lars and Amanda, with their fellow prospectors and miners, are threatened by increasing attacks on their property and lives. Ultimately, Lars must duel Dorik Harbin, the gunslinger sent to kill all who refuse to sign contracts with Humphries Space Systems. As in Greek tragedy, from which the author openly draws, there's no happy ending, only deception, gory murder, exile and planned revenge. Archetypal rather than well-rounded, characters suffer more from their own fatal flaws, hubris chief among them, than from each other's actions. Ambitiously juggling elements of space opera, western and Sophoclean drama, Bova keeps the pages turning. (Apr. 11) FYI: A past SFWA president, Bova has won six Hugo Awards. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A plan to mine the Asteroid Belt for its wealth of mineral resources finds support from two rival corporations: Astro, headed by visionary Dan Randolph, and Humphries Space Systems, led by ambitious industrialist Martin Humphries. Upon the death of Randolph, his prot g Pancho Barnes assumes the burden of trying to keep Humphries from taking control of the asteroid-mining business and exploiting it for his own purposes. Combining old-fashioned action-adventure with a dose of murder, sabotage, and hard sf, the sequel to The Precipice illustrates the common human struggle between altruism and greed. For most sf collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Book two in a series that chronicles the struggle for control over the rich resources of the Asteroid Belt. In this not-too-distant future, the quality of life on Earth has taken a serious turn for the worse, but new frontiers are opening up on the Moon and beyond. Unfortunately, only the richest and most powerful individuals have been reaping the benefits so far, but perhaps those who take the most risks will win the upper hand in the Asteroid Belt-if these fierce individualists can ever agree on anything. Hard-bitten prospectors brave the dangers of space to find that lucky strike, the mineral-rich "rock" that can make them wealthy, returning for supplies and to hang out at the saloon on Ceres, the largest asteroid in the Belt. Meanwhile, a ruthless industrialist schemes from his base on the Moon, stopping at nothing, including the murder of several sympathetic characters, to own it all. Prospector Lars Fuchs and his wife Amanda fight to survive, encouraging the denizens of Ceres to form some sort of society to protect their common interests. Readers who enjoy plenty of action, do not require much in the way of characterization, and have a high tolerance for a rather vicious sort of violence should enjoy this book. It's not Bova's best, but his many fans should be entertained and intrigued.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A direct sequel to The Precipice (2001) and addition to Bova's near/medium-future series about humanity's expansion through the solar system. Megalomaniac industrialist Martin Humphries intends to control the entire solar system, and key to his plan is the asteroid belt with its virtually limitless resources of metals (for ailing Earth's industries) and volatiles (for the fledgling communities on the Moon and elsewhere in space). "Rock rat" (space miner) Lars Fuchs makes his home inside Ceres, one of the largest asteroids, and, like other rock rats, hopes to get rich by prospecting and mining. Unfortunately for him, Martin Humphries is obsessed by Lars's stunning and intelligent wife, Amanda, and will spare no effort to destroy Lars and win Amanda for himself. In business, Humphries has only one serious rival: Astro Corporation's Pancho Lane, heir to Astro's founder, Dan Randolph, murdered by Humphries in the previous book. Astro helps Lars set up a company to sell supplies to the rock rats, but Humphries sabotages the warehouse, then sends a ship to kill rock rats and claim whatever they've prospected—and, incidentally, to assassinate Lars Fuchs also. The belt's nominal authority, Earth-based IAA, refuses to act against Humphries, citing lack of evidence. Poor Lars, driven to the end of his tether, acknowledges that he can't protect Amanda, his only option being to divorce her (in effect leaving her to Humphries) and turn to piracy himself, preying on Humphries's ships and bases—and risk an all-out war in the asteroid belt. Another attention-grabbing entry in a series that continues to grow in stature, scope, and complexity. Once again, Bova in top form.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Asteroid Wars Series , #2
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt



Millions of chunks of rock and metal float silently, endlessly, through the deep emptiness of interplanetary space. The largest of them, Ceres, is barely a thousand kilometers wide. Most of them are much smaller, ranging from irregular chunks a few kilometers long down to the size of pebbles. They contain more metals and minerals, more natural resources, than the entire Earth can provide.

They are the bonanza, the El Dorado, the Comstock Lode, the gold and silver and iron and everything-else mines of the twenty-first century. There are hundreds of millions of billions of tons of high grade ores in the asteroids. They hold enough real wealth to make each man, woman, and child of the entire human race into a millionaire. And then some.

The first asteroid was discovered shortly after midnight on January 1, 1801, by a Sicilian monk who happened to be an astronomer. While others were celebrating the new century, Giuseppi Piazzi was naming the tiny point of light he saw in his telescope Ceres after the pagan goddess of Sicily. Perhaps an unusual attitude for a pious monk, but Piazzi was a Sicilian, after all.

By the advent of the twenty-first century, more than fifteen thousand asteroids had been discovered by earthbound astronomers. As the human race began to expand its habitat to the Moon and to explore Mars, millions more were found.

Technically, they are planetoids, little planets, chunks of rock and metal floating in the dark void of space, leftovers from the creation of the Sun and planets some four and a half billion years ago. Piazzi correctly referred to them as planetoids, but in 1802 William Herschel (who had earlier discovered the giant planet Uranus) called them asteroids, because in the telescope their pinpoints of light looked like stars rather than the disks of planets. Piazzi was correct, but Herschel was far more famous and influential. We call them asteroids to this day.

Several hundred of the asteroids are in orbits that near the Earth, but most of them by far circle around the Sun in a broad swath in deep space between the orbits of Mars and giant Jupiter. This Asteroid Belt is centered more than six hundred million kilometers from Earth, four times farther from the Sun than our homeworld.

Although this region is called the Asteroid Belt, the asteroids are not strewn so thickly that they represent a hazard to space navigation. Far from it. The so-called Belt is a region of vast emptiness, dark and lonely and very far from human civilization.

Until the invention of the Duncan fusion drive the Asteroid Belt was too far from the Earth/Moon system to be of economic value. Once fusion propulsion became practical, however, the Belt became the region where prospectors and miners could make fortunes for themselves, or die in the effort.

Many of them died. More than a few were killed.

Copyright © 2002 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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Rock Rats 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Humanities only hope for survival remains with the ore rich Asteroid Belt. However, the rivalry for control of the vast richness continues between Martin Humphries and Lars Fuchs. Martin wants to exploit the mineral wealth as a means to make him dictator of the solar system. On the other hand, Lars feels that there is room for everyone to benefit and welcomes competition including from the independent ROCK RATS, miners like him living and working amidst the asteroid orbs. However, the antagonism between Lars and Martin has turned even more personal and ugly as the former has married Amanda Cunningham, a woman that the latter obsesses to make as one of his more precious possessions.

Lars sells supplies to THE ROCK RATS, but Martin destroys his competitor¿s warehouse, kills innocent rock rats, and steals their find. He also tries to murder Lars. A desperate Lars counters Martin¿s assault by attacking his malevolent opponent¿s ships and bases. Though distant from earth, mankind¿s latest economic battle is turning deadly with war seemingly inevitable.

THE ROCK RATS, book two of the Asteroid Wars, shows why Ben Bova is one of science fiction¿s all time greats, as he delivers an exhilarating tale that will please his fans and those readers who relish outer space stories. The story line is fast-paced, loaded with action, and makes life on Ceres and elsewhere in the Asteroid Belt feel authentic in an everyday sense. Though Martin appears a bit extreme as a maniacal industrialist, he and the other key cast members remain as strong as they did in the entertaining first novel, THE PRECIPICE. Readers will enjoy this outer space adventure.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Part of a four book subset of the lengthy "Clarke County" "future history" series in the Heinlein tradition. Stands alone, with overlapping characters. It might be better for fans like me who enjoy reading interlocking books in the same universe to begin at the beginning.
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William13 More than 1 year ago
Great sci-fi that gets closer to home each year.