Mystery Ben Bova Mercury

ISBN 13: 9780340823958

Mercury

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9780340823958: Mercury

The closest planet to the Sun, Mercury is an airless, heat-scorched world where temperatures rise to four times higher than the boiling point of water. But this vision of hell is also a planet with unlimited solar power - worth a fortune to the space tycoon Saito Yamagata if he can find a way to harness it. He has hired the enigmatic Dante Alexios to establish a research station on the surface of the planet and find a way to turn that solar energy into portable power satellites. But Yamagata is secretly also preparing the way to a very different dream: he wants to travel to the stars themselves. And Alexios has his own obsession, a plot to lure an old enemy to this hellhole of a world and take his revenge for one of the worst disasters in human history.

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About the Author:

An award-winning editor, President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, Ben Bova is also the author of more than one hundred futuristic novels and non-fiction books. He and his wife live in Florida.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Mercury
BOOK I THE REALM OF FIRENo, 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.ARRIVALSaito 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

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