Ben Bova Venus (Grand Tour series)

ISBN 13: 9781441775740

Venus (Grand Tour series)

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9781441775740: Venus (Grand Tour series)

The surface of Venus is the most hellish place in the solar system, its ground hot enough to melt aluminum, its air pressure high enough to crush spacecraft landers like tin cans, its atmosphere a choking mix of poisonous gases. This is where the frail young Van Humphries must go--or die trying.

Years before, Van's older brother perished in the first attempt to land a man on Venus. Van's father has always hated him for being the one to survive. Now, his father is offering a ten-billion-dollar prize to the first person who lands on Venus and returns his oldest son's remains. To everyone's surprise, Van takes up the offer. But what Van Humphries will find on Venus will change everything -- our understanding of Venus, of global warming on Earth, and his knowledge of who he is.

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Review:

Ben Bova picked his villains well for this fast-paced, popcorn-and-Milk- Duds matinee: Topping the playbill is our sister planet, Venus itself, which Bova matter-of-factly describes as "the most hellish place in the solar system." Sci-fi authors (Bova included) have all but colonized Mars by now, but few have boldly gone to the aluminum-melting, sulfuric-acid-soaked surface of the Morning Star. Venus proves a mighty, unthinking antagonist indeed--frustrating the efforts of sickly but likable rich kid Van Humphries to land there and recover the remains of his older brother Alex, who died two years earlier on another ill-fated mission.

Van gets pushed back and forth between the book's two lesser villains--his mean old cuss of a father, Martin Humphries, who's posted the $10 billion Venus Prize to the first person to return Alex's body, and Lars Fuchs, a belligerent asteroid miner and Martin's arch-nemesis, who's also decided to make a go at the purse.

Characterizations ride coach on this high-adventure flight, but remember that we're talking about Ben Bova here. It's hard to dispute the master's choices as you're following Van's well-researched, thrills-and-chills descent through Venus's pressure-cooker atmosphere. With solid science, a palatable environmental message (how could you resist commenting on greenhouse gases in a book like this?), and an inspiring character arc for unlikely hero Van, Venus delivers guilt-free, man-against-nature SF in a tight, page-turning package. --Paul Hughes

About the Author:

BEN BOVA, a six-time winner of science fiction's Hugo Award, is the author of over one hundred works of science fact and fiction. A former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni, he is also a past president of the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America. He lives in Naples, Florida.

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