He made planetfall on Venus and all but colonized Mars, so it's not surprising that SF don Ben Bova finally set his sights on our solar system's swirling, red-eyed sovereign.|
As with his previous planetary exploration books, Jupiter plants you right in the heart of the action, witness to the speculative science and political intrigue--and in this case, religious machination--that surround a fast-paced, dangerous, and technically fleshed-out mission. Our unlikely hero on this touchdown is an earnest, likeable, hard-working grad student named Grant Archer, a frustrated astrophysicist who's been shanghaied aboard Jupiter's Gold space station to fulfill a ROTC-style public-service commitment. What's worse, this devout young man has been ordered by the New Morality--the American flavor of the conservative religious order that runs Earth nowadays--to spy on some suspicious research involving alleged Jovian life forms.
Bova begins his book with an A.C. Clarke quote: "The rash assertion that 'God made man in His own image' is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths." This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about where this book's going, and who, respectively, will be wearing the white and the black hats (unfortunately, some of the characterizations don't get much deeper). That the central protagonist is both a Christian and a scientist makes for some fertile character development, but Bova's not exactly gunning for God here--he's happy just to blast away at narrow-minded ideologues and other assorted religious fanatics. (But that, of course, is about as easy as making teenagers depressed.)