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This book is a good read althougth the characterisation leaves a little to be desired!
The plot is very interesting, the science seems plausible and firmly grounded in reality. There are a lot of political and religious intrigues that reflect current real life issues and certainly give one plenty to think about.
My main problem with this book is the characterisation, it seems fairly two dimensional. The reader is more or less clued in to the nature of each character from that characters first line of dialogue. Also the level of hostility between members of the scientific community on the Jupiter orbital station seems to be at such a level that it would make it virtually impossible for that station to operate in any reasonable way.
Other than my concerns over the charcterisation and interaction between some of the characters, I really enjoyed this book. In some ways it felt like classic style SF but with modern overtones and issues.
I have just bought another BOVA, so I guess it was good enough to get me to read another one.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Jupiter was my fifth Ben Bova novel from his Grand Tour series and I liked it. The two moon based stories I've read, Moon Rise and Moon War didn't really impress or grab me like this story had. I think one of the reasons why Jupiter was a better read for me was the more interesting characters. There is a decent and diverse group of people in this story and it does seem that Bova is either a hit or miss author in respect of getting his characters right. The two Mars based stories I've read so far Mars and Return to mars were in a similar vein to this book in terms of a more enjoyable set of characters generally speaking.
The main protagonist, Grant Archer starts off as a green and inexperienced young scientist sent off to the research station orbiting Jupiter as part of his mandatory 4 year public service duty. Grant is introduced to the station and meets new people and makes friends along the way. The characters are written well and have distinct traits and personalities which lifts the story and pulls the reader into Grant's new world as he struggles to find his feet in his new environment.
Of course, things are not made easy for him and the station director is a stern and austere character that makes life difficult for Grant as he tries to fit in. However, Bova lets the reader gradually see and appreciate a different side to the hard edged director as the story progresses which I liked and pleased me as initially I thought this character to be a one dimensional portrayal of a tough leader.
Bova paints a picture of station life and the people in it that draws the reader into their story and allows us to tag along with Grant on his journey. I think the attribute I liked best about the Grant Archer character was that he was written as an ordinary person with apprehensions, fears and weaknesses and not one of those sorts of characters who are always self assured and know the right answer to everything. Grant is finding his way in his new world and so are we along with him as the reader.
I found the plot uncomplicated and well paced and there is a spy for the New Morality on the station and the author often misdirects us as to who this culprit might be. This brings me to perhaps one of the biggest issues I have with these Bova stories as many of them feature the "New Morality" which is a political and religious bunch of zealots that control the government and have authority over many aspects of life. I didn't like it when Earth bound politics start encroaching upon his stories and I just find the whole scene dull and a distraction from what I think of as the real science-fiction story. In addition, I find it very silly that a future enlightened world would seek to take steps backward into the middle ages with it's religious dogma and policies that stifle things like the quest for scientific knowledge as it might upset the view that God created us and that no other intelligent alien life must be found. For me, the entire New Morality sub-plot is ridiculous and out of place in a society which supposedly has moved on in its understanding of the universe. I was surprised that the New Morality didn't start issuing new dictates rewriting science by stating that the Sun moves around the Earth and the Earth itself is flat and only 4,000 years old. Anyway, Bova didn't thankfully include much from this group in the story and I believe there are other Bova stories within his Grand Tour series that heavily focus on these religious groups and this is why I have avoided those titles.
The concepts Bova puts forth in this and other Jupiter related stories is an interesting one which posits an ocean beneath the cloud layers that supports various life forms as well as life in the cloud layers itself. I can't remember if Jupiter actually has any ocean of any kind other than dense gas down to its core and if this is so I am surprised Bova took this approach as I believe he has a beat on current scientific theories and is supposed to be quite scientific in this writing of such things. I can't say but all the same I did like the vision of Jupiter he describes.
Grant and his new friends are sent down into the Jovian ocean to make contact with the leviathans that dwell in the vast deep. In order to do this each crew member has to effectively drown in the same liquid seen in the movie "The Abyss" and I wonder if Bova got this idea from that movie.
The thoughts of the leviathan are narrated by a different speaker who is excellent and has the right voice to lend awe and gravitas to the narrative of these immense creatures. A quirk I find of Bova's writing is that he seems to separate chapters in some of his books with quotes from famous people or in the case of Jupiter, psalms. I find this a little incongruous in that Bova appears to try lending weight and a sense of majesty into a story that is more of a pulp science fiction story than one where such weighty prose fit. This brings me to say that another reviewer stated that Bova's stories are not pulp science fiction and are hard science-fiction. I would have to disagree with that assessment. This is not to belittle Bova's work - not at all. But judging by the five novels so far read from Ben Bova, I would have to say that his stories are far closer to pulp or "light" science-fiction that is generally more average reader friendly than some of the other authors I've read which make Bova's novels look like 1960's Star Trek.
As ever in Bova's stories, a man cannot live amongst women without thinking of jumping into bed with them and I find this a basic flaw in Bova's style and hence my liking many elements of his stories to classic Trek.
Overall though, I enjoyed Jupiter and the conclusion of the story left me wanting more. I subsequently found the follow-up story set some 20 years later called "Leviathans of Jupiter" which I've just read and will review soon.
I really enjoyed this book, great SF, i.e. the science is credible, but eerily futuristic and captivating, really makes you wonder... The story line is great, Bova is just a great story teller; the story is an adventure with lots of action etc, but it is also about the inner life, struggles and journey of discovery of its main character. Finally, the character development is excellent, you really get to feel some of the struggles and emotions of the characters.
A great read that I would highly reccomend!
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
I loved this audio. Having heard all of the Voyager series I quickly became a Ben Bova fan. This audio is even better than Voyagers in my opinion. It was truly riveting in storyline, charaterizationa and suspense that glued me to my ipod until the end. I hope Grant Archer will be repeated in a sequel to this.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful