Bova, Ben 1932-

views updated

Ben Bova 1932-

(Full name Benjamin William Bova) American author of science fiction and nonfiction.

For additional criticism on Bova's works, see CLR, Volume 3.


For more than fifty years Bova has been writing science fiction and nonfiction on the topics of science, technology, and the future. He has been an aerospace executive, has edited magazines, was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2001, and is president emeritus and a member of the board of governors of the National Space Society. Bova is sought after as a television commentator, has appeared on ABC television's Good Morning America and NBC's Today show, and is a regular commentator on National Public Radio in Florida. In addition to teaching film courses at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, Bova has worked in the film and television industries with George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, and others.


Bova was raised in a working-class neighborhood in south Philadelphia. Born during the Depression, Bova learned to appreciate science and the stars through visits to a local planetarium. An avid reader, Bova soaked up science fact and science fiction but eventually studied journalism at Temple University rather than science. After graduating in 1954, Bova became involved in the air-and-space industry through contacts he made as editor of a local newspaper in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. During the 1950s he wrote on U.S. efforts to place satellites in earth orbit as a technical writer for Martin Aircraft, wrote educational film scripts, and became marketing manager at Avco-Everett Research, a company investigating everything from artificial hearts to lasers.

In 1971 Bova was named editor of Analog magazine, and in 1978 he began at Omni as a fiction editor and progressed to editorial director. Bova left Omni in 1982 after having won six Hugo awards in recognition of his editing skills. He has written articles, reviews, and opinion pieces for the New York Times, Nature, the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and other publications.

In the 1980s Bova concentrated on a subject near and dear to his heart—supporting space exploration. Bova testified at government hearings after the Challenger accident in favor of continuing construction of space shuttles. He continues to write both science fact and science fiction. Bova has a master of arts in communication from the State University of New York at Albany (1987) and a doctorate in education from California Coast University (1996).


In the realm of children's and young adult literature, Bova writes for both his young audience and for those who teach them. His works are often used to spark discussion not only of the possibilities for the future, but of current conditions and how quickly we are approaching dire problems. Bova's primary message is that society is much better off with an understanding and intelligent use of science and technology than it is without it and that there is always room for social change. This is best exemplified by the author's own words: "[Knowledge] is always to be preferred over ignorance. Yet there are always forces in society that move for ignorance. They want to keep the status quo." Bova sees science fiction as echoing "the basic optimism of science. We don't say 'We shouldn't go there because there may be dangers.' We say, 'Gee, let's find out what that 's all about, and if there are dangers we'll deal with them,' because with every danger come new opportunities as well." Examples of works revolving around these themes include the novel The Dueling Machine (1969), which posits a future where members of society can avoid injuring each other by taking out their frustrations on a dueling machine. The High Road (1981) examines how a significant investment in space can help us solve our social problems and broaches the issue of power mongering in the new frontier. Bova's nonfiction often follows the same path. In The Seeds of Tomorrow (1977), for example, Bova examines the ways in which technology and science can help solve society's problems and the responsibility to use technology wisely.

These themes run throughout Bova's work regardless of the story's setting—Earth, space, or other worlds. City of Darkness (1976) provides a look at the world of gangland violence in New York City, which has become a domed environment open to tourists for only a few months per year. The protagonist, who has run away from home, experiences the worst the city has to offer and vows to work for its change. Exiled from Earth (1971), Flight of Exiles (1972), and End of Exile (1975), published as The Exiles Trilogy in 1980, considers a group of young people who leave Earth and must adjust to the attendant changes. Through Eyes of Wonder (1975), a nonfiction text, discusses science fiction as a means of helping young people deal with change. Colony (1978) takes the reader to Island One, an orbiting space colony untouched by the problems on Earth that is subject to the whims of global corporations and terrorists who vie for control of the planet.

Believing that one can learn about science without being mired in its particulars, Bova has focused on writing science—fiction and nonfiction—for the general public. Escape! (1970), his first book for young readers, was written (according to Bova) for "kids who don't like to read." He has been widely praised for this book by educators who credit him with getting children to read who have never wanted to read.


Bova's reputation for writing straightforward, understandable prose to explain complicated scientific advances is one of many talents that has garnered him high praise by critics of fiction and nonfiction alike. He is viewed as an accomplished storyteller whose knowledge about his scientific subject matter balances his shortcomings in characterization. Viewed by some critics as too inconsistent and overly polemic, City of Darkness is also seen by these critics as appealing to young readers because of its graphic style, fast pace, and contemporary theme of gang violence. End of Exile, the last of the exile trilogy, is considered a commendable continuation of the story, complete with challenges and suspense. Considered his best novel by some critics, Colony is recommended by Lewis with the caveat that Bova is perhaps too convincing in his predictions about Earth running out of time. Lewis's only disappointment centers on what he views as a stereotyped romantic subplot. Not written specifically for young people, Colony is especially popular among science fiction fans. The Kinsman Saga (1979) involves the conflicts and challenges faced by Chet Kinsman, Quaker, Air Force officer, and space traveler. Although contrary to everything he believes, Kinsman is forced to kill a Russian female cosmonaut, which has a profound effect on him. The book received mixed reviews; some considered it dull, while others believed that young adults would find it a page-turner. The High Road deals with one of Bova's pet issues—the space program. Booklist considers it an excellent pro-space position paper, a comment with which Adams agrees. Voyagers considers the political and scientific issues that arise when an observatory begins receiving radio signals from a spaceship approaching Earth. It is considered an excellent effort, perhaps geared toward readers of "hard" science fiction.

With respect to nonfiction, The Weather Changes Man (1974) offers a discussion of the effects of weather on man and his environment. Viewed by Booklist as having reprised too much information covered in other texts, it was still seen as a valuable general text on the subject. Shirley Smith compares The Seeds of Tomorrow to Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and recommends it for sparking class discussion on such topics as population growth, genetics, and space exploration. Brotman was disappointed with the unconvincing argument in Through Eyes of Wonder, wherein Bova favors the use of science fiction in helping today's youth prepare for and deal with future change.


The Milky Way Galaxy, The Fourth State of Matter(1971), The Beauty of Light, and Welcome to Moonbase! were named Best Science Books of the Year by the American Library Association; Hugo Award for best editor, World Science Fiction Society 1973-1977 and 1979; E. E. Smith Memorial Award, New England Science Fiction Society, 1974; named distinguished alumnus, Temple University, 1981; Balrog Award, 1983; Inkpot Award, 1985.


Yound Adult Nonfiction

Giants of the Animal World 1962

The Uses of Space 1965

The Amazing Laser 1972

The Weather Changes Man 1974

Workshops in Space 1974

End of Exile 1975

Through Eyes of Wonder 1975

Seeds of Tomorrow 1977

The High Road 1981

Young Adult Science Fiction

The Star Conquerors 1959

Star Watchmen 1964

The Weathermakers 1967

Out of the Sun 1968

The Dueling Machine 1969

Escape! 1970

Exiled from Earth 1971

Flight of Exiles 1972

The Winds of Altair 1973

City of Darkness 1976

Aliens 1978

Colony 1978

The Exiles Trilogy 1980

Other Major Works

The Milky Way: Man's Exploration of the Stars (nonfiction) 1961

The Fourth State of Matter: Plasma Dynamics and Tomorrow's Technology (nonfiction) 1971

When the Sky Burned (novel) 1972

Forward in Time (short stories) 1973

The Starcrossed (novel) 1975

Millennium (novel) 1976

The Multiple Man (novel) 1976

Maxwell's Demons (novel) 1978

The Kinsman Saga (novel) 1979

Voyagers (novel) 1981

Tests of Fire (novel) 1982

Orion (novel) 1984

Vengeance of Orion (novel) 1988

Cyberbooks (novel) 1989

Mars (novel) 1992

The Trikon Deception [with Bill Pogue] (novel) 1992

Challenges (novel) 1993

Empire Builders (novel) 1993

Triumph (novel) 1993

Orion and the Conqueror (novel) 1994

Death Dream (novel) 1994

Moonrise (novel) 1996

Immorality (nonfiction) 1998

Sam Gunn Forever (novel) 1998

Return to Mars (novel) 1999

Venus (novel) 2000

Jupiter (novel) 2001

The Precipice (novel) 2001

The Story of Light (nonfiction) 2001

The Rock Rats (novel) 2002

Saturn (novel) 2003

Tales of the Grand Tour (collected works) 2004


Ben Bova (essay date November 2000)

SOURCE: Bova, Ben. "Ben Bova: Molding the Future." Locus 45, no. 5 (November 2000): 6, 76-7.

In the following essay, Bova discusses the genre of science fiction and his novels Mars, Jupiter, Venus, The Precipice, and Immorality.

"There's a basic optimism to science fiction—maybe I should confine that to hard science fiction. I think the field shares the basic optimism of science itself. If there is a credo in this business, it should be a quote from Albert Einstein: 'The most mysterious thing about the universe is its understandability.' We can understand the way the universe works; hard science fiction that deals with real science and technology is about people learning how the universe works, whether that universe is the solar system, the whole cosmic wonder of it, or the universe within our own body. But you can learn, and knowledge makes us better. It makes us wiser, more capable, it improves our lives. And knowledge is always to be preferred over ignorance.

"Yet there are always forces in society that move for ignorance. They want to keep the status quo. Every institution in society except for science is built to keep the status quo. Law, religion, social customs, family traditions—they're all there to keep things the way they are. Science is constantly making new discoveries, and that's why scientists are very often looked on as scamps by everybody else—if not with outright fear. Science is always breaking the mold, finding something new. Today doesn't have to be like yesterday. Tomorrow will be different. Change is inevitable, and scientists are actively going out and making changes! They are doing it because it's fun, because they're driven to it by their own personalities. And science fiction echoes the basic optimism of science. We don't say 'We shouldn't go there because there may be dangers.' We say, 'Gee, let's find out what that's all about, and if there are dangers we'll deal with them,' because with every danger come new opportunities as well.

"I didn't realize it at first, but I've been writing a serial novel for the last 10 years—Mars, the two Moonbase books, the sequel to Mars, and Venus ; now I've done Jupiter. They're all interrelated, and it all turns out to be this big canvas of how the Earth changes and how this impels and requires our expansion into the Solar System. I'll keep on writing about it until I get it finished—though it never really will be finished.

"I think of them as historical novels that haven't happened yet. My audience consists partly of science fiction fans, but mostly of people in technical fields—I sell well at universities, NASA installations, places like that. It's a technically educated audience, people who are interested in realistic stories about how you get there from here. Everybody wants to be in this wonderful future. The question I keep thinking about is, How do you build it? How do you make it happen? And what resistance do you have? Why aren't we on Mars right now? So I'm writing novels that are all interconnected.

" Jupiter will be out in January. Now I'm starting a series of novels, ostensibly about developing resources of the asteroids, but it's really a much bigger canvas than that. SF has dealt with such subjects since the '30s, but now I can write about not merely how you get there but the reasons for doing it and the resistance to it. What's happening on Earth? What's pushing people out into space?

"The moon landing was a political move, a political ploy, and to this day NASA's program is driven by Washington's politics. That's why it's drifting, because there is no real political push. There isn't a man or woman in Congress, there's nobody in the White House, who's going to lose his or her job depending on how they vote on space. It's a minor issue at best. NASA's budget is considered by the Congress in the same lump with Veteran's Affairs and Housing & Urban Development. If you're sitting on that committee and the budget cutoff comes, and you've got to balance money for NASA against money for veterans or housing, that's not an easy political question. That's why we're beginning to see private development in space.

"I'm talking about what is going on in the real world, not in science fiction. They do affect each other a little bit, but the big effect the real world has on science fiction is in the distribution of magazines and books. These days, Analog is sort of insulated from the real world, and that's what its hardcore readers want. But that readership is getting smaller and smaller. F & SF has just about given up on SF. They dropped Gregory Benford as science correspondent and added two movie columns. We've seen a lot of attempts to tie in popular movies and things with science fiction, but I don't think it really helps.

"We had a private system of satellites that is now being de-orbited, crashed into the ocean because the market didn't develop—that's the free enterprise system. But other networks are going up. There is a hundred billion dollars in private space operations right now across the world. That money's being spent for launches, for building satellites, for operating systems.… And this will grow. In the meantime, we have problems on Earth that resources in space can help to alleviate. Especially as we get more deeply into global warming, space is going to become more and more important: developing resources and energy without warming up the surface of the Earth, power satellites, and eventually moving most industry off the planet.

"I remember writing years ago about the 'Greenhouse Cliff,' and the novel I'm working on now, The Precipice, is about when the Greenhouse effect really comes in. Sea levels are going to rise. (I'm living in a condo on the beach on the Gulf of Mexico, on the 13th floor, and I think we're probably high enough.) It may be a natural cycle. We just don't have records going back that far. But we're smart enough to develop ways to protect ourselves against it, and I think space has an enormous contribution to make. People don't react in time, they react to emergencies, but this makes for better novels. If everybody did things in a very orderly way, fiction would be up the creek.

"The Precipice deals with these times. Sea levels are rising and people are getting desperate, millions are dying. It won't take much of a climate change to wipe out the subsistence people in the tropics. A lot of the world depends on very slender threads. If the current food supplies for much of the tropical and semi-tropical world are endangered by global warming, we're going to have more than a billion people facing imminent starvation. There will be some real disruption in the world—not just here in the industrialized world, where we have to worry if our condos are to be flooded, but real famine. Aside from the flooding, climate change ruins cropland, and an awful lot of people are up against the edge of hunger right now. They will be pushed over the precipice.

"We space cadets go around saying, 'We'll use the resources in space to solve these problems.' How do you do that? Well, that's what the novels are all about—how it gets done, what the possibilities are, and more importantly what the resistance is. Sometimes the vast majority of the population is on the other side. That's what we have in Florida. You think further growth is terrible. The area's already being destroyed. But most of the people living there want more growth. It's important to their jobs, their futures, so they think growth is just swell.

"There's a lot to solve—that's why it takes more than one novel! Some of these problems won't be solved. A lot of people are going to die. I think society is going to change enormously. Some people will be moving into space and even though they don't intend to at first, they'll spend the rest of their lives off Earth and develop new kinds of societies there. They won't face the same problems we face on Earth; they'll have other problems, and some of them will be more pressing, immediate: 'How do I get enough air to breathe?' And with the development of the asteroids in the novels I'm planning, we're going to see real violent confrontations over who develops this wealth, who makes the money. With that much riches, there are going to be lots of grasping hands, because money translates into wealth, and wealth translates into power.

"Those are the novels I'm planning for the foreseeable future. Jupiter actually leapfrogs these novels. Set much farther in the future, it's basically about the conflict between religion and science. Looking into Jupiter below the clouds, people find creatures that may be intelligent, and there are powerful forces on Earth that don't want to find another intelligent species. They're religiously motivated—they don't want these godless scientists to start destroying another part of scripture. The pivotal character is a believer who's also a scientist, a young man who sees no conflict between scripture and science and yet he's being pulled by the two sides, each of which is just as fanatical as the other. In the meantime, while all this conflict is going on, the real story is: what are these things in the planet-wide ocean of Jupiter? Are they alive? Are they intelligent? Can we find another species to talk to?—which we desperately need. The book is set almost entirely on a research station orbiting Jupiter, and on Jupiter itself—probes going to delve below the clouds—but there are plenty of references to Earth.

"After saying, the last time we talked, that I was just going to be a writer, I find myself back in the editing and publishing game.

"One of the first people Doug Conway, the founder of GalaxyOnline, brought in was David Gerrold, who recommended that he come to me because he was looking for a publisher. What Doug had in mind was something like Omni. He wanted to produce a top-rate medium that deals with science, the future, fiction as well as nonfiction. It sounded intriguing. We have been working on it for eight months or so, and it's been a problem getting funded because he was depending on venture capital, then the venture capital market just collapsed. GalaxyOnline is struggling along with a new stock issue, developing investors and trying to produce enough capital to make GalaxyOnline what we want it to be. But Doug Conway's a very inventive guy, and if anybody can raise money for a venture like this, he can.

"One of the reasons I'm interested in GalaxyOnline is this may be a new medium and draw new readers into the field. A lot of youngsters are looking at their screens. They're not buying books or magazines, but they are on the Internet.

"Besides the written word part, GalaxyOnline is multimedia—it's got films and video. Right now most are short or reruns of old stuff we've taken the license for. The whole operation is deliberately aimed at people with very fast machines, because we see this as the future market. With the fast machines, you'll be able to look at films and videos in real time. With the published word, it's not that important, but even there we would like to be able to do more visuals, since illustrations to the story break up the blocks of type. We want to do audio as well. It might be interesting to have authors reading parts of their stories. It's an experiment. Moving in all these different media, what really is going to work? Nobody knows. GalaxyOnline is getting about half a million hits per month, and we are now starting to see what features people are looking at.

"Right now, we've got a lot of good science fiction writers doing nonfiction pieces. I want to get top-rate science and scientists involved as well. Our aim is to have new material on the site every day—a new piece of fiction, a new piece of nonfiction. This changes the way publishing works. You don't have deadlines anymore. Every day is a deadline.

"Old systems die hard, and new ideas will be coming along too, so the Internet is very powerful but it isn't alone. I don't want it to develop the way radio and television developed, where they essentially became very commercial operations, driven by the sponsors rather than the content. I'm old enough to remember when television was new and everyone said, 'This is wonderful! You'll be able to get the best artists in the world right in your living room.' Yeah, but first you have to get the commercial. And the more TV sets were sold, the dumber the content got. Back in the early days, the audience was small enough that people like Sid Caesar could develop a very sophisticated comedy, whereas today if you try to aim comedy at that audience, you'd have a failure of a show—it wouldn't be going to enough people.

"The SF field has always changed, never been static. I think what has happened is that science fiction has invaded the rest of the world and conquered it. We've won. But nobody realizes that. It's like the plot of a science fiction story: the invaders have taken over the civilization but the civilization doesn't realize it. In a sense, most of the science fiction stuff people were writing about in the '50s and '60s has come to pass. We have computers in most every home. We have space travel of a sort. We have the prospect in medicine of elongating your life so far that you're virtually immortal. (It's not nanotech, it's telemerase, an enzyme. Secret of eternal youth: one bite on the neck and that's it!) There are examples of human cells that have been immortalized so they're now something like twenty times longer than their normal lifespan.

"I talked about that in Immortality. Every now and then I do a nonfiction book, and Immortality was about all this research, and then the social consequences. It may be for the benefit of society to suppress this kind of research. Maybe we can't handle a world in which nobody ages and the death rate goes down almost to zero. It may create such intolerable strains on society that it would be better to do without it. But once people realize they can live forever, this kind of therapy is going to be done. No force on Earth will be able to stop it or suppress it. We're going to have to learn to bring down the birth rate almost to zero, or overpopulate ourselves. Bring back starvation!

"Science fiction today has become so broad, nobody can understand it in its entirety. It's invaded every aspect of our lives. There are now sub-genres in romance—time travel romance, alternate-world romance. The academics have also picked up on alternate history—though their extrapolations are really dull! If you are just doing a nonfiction treatise, you can't get the flavor, the drama, the interesting stuff that fiction can give you. One of the reasons science fiction is so powerful is that it not only talks about science and technology but it talks about how these affect people. That's why it's more readable, and usually more accurate in its predictions, than any other field. I've always regarded futurists as SF writers who've had the imagination beaten out of them. They have to stick to the facts, and they don't know how to put in the human equation. Fiction writers do. That's our stock in trade. From the standpoint of literature, from the standpoint of good writing, the SF field is much better now than it's ever been, very likely because there are more practitioners involved. Also because the practitioners today have benefited from the experiments and the experience of earlier generations."



Booklist (review date 15 September 1974)

SOURCE: Booklist 71, no. 1 (15 September 1974): 95.

[In The Weather Changes Man, ] Bova explores the effect of weather on man: the original formation of a liveable environment on earth, the weather's role in agriculture, the physiological effects of climate, and some recent discoveries about weather's influence on modern living. Disappointing in its emphasis on material already covered in books on geography and agriculture, this could have been expanded in the discussions of physiology to become a more valuable purchase. Useful, nevertheless, for a broader but less in-depth approach than is found in Kavaler's Life Battles Cold (Booklist 70:657 F 15 74). Illustrated with black-and-white photographs.


Booklist (review date 15 October 1975)

SOURCE: Booklist 72, no. 4 (15 October 1975): 297.

In this third installment of Bova's "Exiled" trilogy a group of young people [End of Exile ], among the last remaining residents aboard the ship that departed Earth in Exiled from Earth, must decide whether to go against their established taboos and repair the ship's instruments to save themselves, or cling to the old directives left to them as children, forbidding them to tamper with any devices. The catalyst for change is Linc, who knows he could try to repair some of the deteriorating machines; when he successfully fixes a vital pump, a power struggle begins with Linc opposed by the maniacal cripple Monel. The conflict escalates to life-and-death proportions as the ship heads for oblivion unless its instruments can function to chart the craft down to its target planet. Bova plays the suspense down to the last pages, and readers coming along for the excitement can also ponder the prominent theme of tradition versus social change.


Sonia Brotman (review date September 1976)

SOURCE: Brotman, Sonia. School Library Journal 23, no. 1 (September 1976): 128.

[In City of Darkness, ] Manhattan of the future is open for tourists from May to Labor Day; otherwise it's a dead, condemned city. Or so teenage suburbanbred Ron thinks until he gets trapped in the Big Apple for the rest of the year. In his eight months as part of one of the many gangs that control the city he learns not only about survival in the city, but also about bigotry, cruelty, and ignorance in the suburbs. He finally leaves, determined to change the balance of power—to essentially reeducate the world. Although over-preachy and predictable in its outcome, this is still a fast-moving story with an interesting view of New York, extrapolated from its present crisis condition.


Shirley A. Smith (review date February 1978)

SOURCE: Smith, Shirley A. School Library Journal 24, no. 6 (February 1978): 63.

Sci fi writer Bova's analysis [Seeds of Tomorrow ] for teens of what technology can do and what man must do is reminiscent of Toffler's adult Future Shock (Random, 1970). A thorough evaluation is presented of the problems of energy, dissemination of information, utilization of our last frontier—outer space—and the sensitive area of population growth and genetic manipulation. More down-to-earth than Watson's Living Together in Tomorrow's World: a Challenging Preview of Future Developments in Community Living, Transportation and Communication (Abelard, 1976), this title will appeal to individual readers as well as provide a stimulus for class discussion.

COLONY (1978)

Publishers Weekly (review date 29 May 1978)

SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 213, no. 22 (29 May 1978): Need page number.

Bova, Hugo Award winner, editor of Analog, has written his most impressive novel to date [Colony ], a cautionary tale of barely averted apocalypse that ought to find him a readership beyond the confines of SF. It is the year a.d. 2008; world population has steadily grown above 7-billion. A space colony, Island One, has been constructed by a combine of multinational corporations. Among the colonists is a so-called test-tube human, the genetically perfect David Adams whose odyssey and politicization will become the catalyst for the action. David has escaped Island One for Earth, a disarmed world where countries now wage ecological warfare and where the multinationals, the world government and nationalistic terrorist groups are in a struggle against one another to take over.

Steve Lewis (review date July 1978)

SOURCE: Lewis, Steve. Library Journal 103, no. 13 (July 1978): 1437.

In contrast to the breath-taking view from the topside of Island One, a manmade colony the size of Manhattan orbiting the Moon, the fouled ugliness and corruption engulfing most of poverty-stricken Earth is all the more striking. This bitter panorama of the future [Colony ], only 30 years off, is chillingly told, disappointing only with a romantic subplot that cannot seem to shake the great pulpbound traditions of science fiction. And in spite of Bova's contention that there is a way out, he's a great deal more convincing that we're far too quickly running out of time. Recommended.

Booklist (review date 1 October 1978)

SOURCE: Booklist 75, no. 3 (1 October 1978): 280.

Bova's best novel [Colony ] in a distinguished career posits an Earth racked by ecological warfare set against a space colony where the world's first genetically engineered human being lives, bearing the hope of mankind. Bova's rich evocation of a crumbling Earth society, warring multinational corporations, and vicious terrorist groups has a compelling, prophetic power. The novel will have wide appeal beyond sf fans.

Claudia Morner (review date February 1979)

SOURCE: Morner, Claudia. School Library Journal 25, no. 6 (February 1979): 66.

This is the story of Island One [Colony ], a super space colony which circles the earth, oblivious to problems of over-population and starvation; of an Arabian oil baron whose daughter is a secret radical plotting to overthrow her father; of a tough, streetwise Black man whose body is so large that he must be kept alive by injections of steroids and other drugs. Finally, there is a newspaper reporter, determined to expose the truth about test-tube person David Adams. Instead, she falls in love with him. Several vignettes concerning all of these people are woven together in this future tale of action and politics which will have appeal beyond the usual s-f audience.


Publishers Weekly (review date 4 June 1979)

SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 215, no 23 (4 June 1979): 52.

[In The Kinsman Saga, ] Chet Kinsman defies his Quaker family to join the Air Force: he wants to be an astronaut. He believes he can keep his military training from truly changing him deep down. Chet does become an experienced and professional spaceman and is even the first man to have sex in space. But a secret mission to investigate a Russian satellite changes the course of his life, when a cosmonaut (female) catches him red-handed and his military conditioning makes him kill her. The effect on his psyche is so profound he is grounded, but being kept from space simply makes matters worse. Only by plunging totally into the political fight to fund an Air Force moon base is Chet able to recover. The author has succeeded in his apparent aim of writing about the near future in a way accessible to the general reader, but the result is dull science fiction.

Mary Jo Campbell (review date October 1979)

SOURCE: Campbell, Mary Jo. School Library Journal 26, no. 2 (October 1979): 163.

A "prequel" to Millennium (Random, 1976) this [The Kinsman Saga ] fills biographical gaps in the life of pacifist Moon Base Commander Chet Kinsman. An irresistible passion for space flight has dulled the Quaker conscience of this Air Force officer who rationalizes that, as an astronaut, he will never engage in combat. But when, in the line of duty, he kills an assailant, his desire for the serenity of space and his obligations to the military clash head on. How Kinsman comes to terms with himself and secures his place in space from total military control will hold YAs until the final pages of the novel.


Roland Green (review date 1 October 1981)

SOURCE: Green, Roland. Booklist 78, no. 3 (1 October 1981): 164.

Ben Bova, editor of Omni magazine and well known as both a popular science and science fiction writer, has written a futurological study [The High Road ], concentrating on energy and space. It is an unashamed, even militant, work of advocacy—Bova is protechnology, progrowth, and prospace. He has done his homework and, with considerable skill, has marshaled his arguments on what are undeniably important issues, making this book one of the better statements of the prospace position currently available.

John Adams (review date February 1982)

SOURCE: Adams, John. School Library Journal 28, no. 6 (February 1982): Need page number.

Bova's drawing of battle lines between pro-space Prometheans and anti-space Luddites turns out to be a skillful lead-in to a purposeful and fairly even-minded (despite Bova's avowed affiliation with the Prometheans) study of important choices before us. The book's [The High Road ] important shift away from polarization occurs when Bova makes the point that we can have social services and a great lessening of hunger in the world and also bear a hefty space budget. It will be the benefits of an increased presence in space that will help us accomplish our cherished social goals. Already, offshoots of NASA programs are generating copious amounts of wealth while costs are cut for consumers. Communications satellites are one example of this, highly evolved semiconductor technologies are another. None of the recent spate of optimistic future-studies deals adequately and in depth with the problem of how to deal with the human lust for power and domination when it manifests itself in this new frontier of space. But at least Bova gives this issue some consideration while setting forth a chilly scenario of killer satellites dueling silently above our heads. Bova is an accomplished S.F. writer and editor (late of Omni); his prose here is compelling and clear.


Roland Green (review date 15 September 1981)

SOURCE: Booklist 78, no. 2 (15 September 1981): 90.

The latest novel [Voyagers ] by the prolific editor of Omni magazine is a panoramic story of alien contact and political intrigue, centered around the discovery of an alien spaceship approaching Earth. Bova is a sound storyteller who skillfully handles the complex narrative, with its multiple viewpoints, and his knowledge of science, space programs, and politics balances the uneven characterization. It is impossible to ignore the passion of his advocacy of rationalism, science, and spaceflight as vital to human survival. For "hard science"-oriented sf collections.

Claudia Morner (review date November 1981)

SOURCE: Morner, Claudia. School Library Journal 28, no. 3 (November 1981): 113.

When an observatory in Massachusetts begins to receive radio signals from a spaceship heading for Earth [Voyagers ], a secret international power struggle develops. Scientists and politicians clash and fear of unfriendly aliens and of global panic grips both groups. The Russian linguist Markov, bored with his unattractive KGB-employed wife, gives up chasing women and uses his contacts and his wife's position to save American physicist and ex-astronaut Keith Stoner and the joint Soviet/U.S. space flight that is launched to meet the alien ship. What the astronauts discover and the questions it raises about values and the nature of man are skillfully and believably constructed by Bova. The ending has a good twist.

MARS (1992)

Susan McFaden (review date December 1992)

McFaden, Susan. School Library Journal 38, no. 12 (December 1992): 146.

Jamie Waterman, a Native American geologist, is chosen at the last minute for the first manned exploration of the planet Mars. On touchdown, he is so overwhelmed with the notion of the moment that he utters a Navajo phrase instead of the political statement he is supposed to read. This sets off a chain of reaction among the leaders and politicians on Earth. Thus starts Bova's sprawling space opera [Mars ]. The expedition, seen from Jamie's point of view, is really the protagonist here. The story is filled with lots of characters of different nationalities and there's plenty of political intrigue. Of course, there are obstacles to overcome: a meteor almost destroys the lab, the doctor neglects his duty and nearly kills them all, crew members come down with mysterious "Martian flu," and through it all is the never-ending search for evidence of life on this planet. Bova has done extensive research and his descriptions of Mars and the conditions under which the study is conducted are very plausible. All in all, a satisfying story.


Publishers Weekly (review date 8 November 1991)

Publishers Weekly 238, no. 49 (8 November 1991): 54.

This collaboration [The Trikon Deception ] by veteran SF author Bova (Voyagers ) and astronaut Pogue (How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?) is set in 1998 and extrapolates from such recent phenomena as the ongoing ecological crisis, the collapse of Soviet communism and the establishment of the European Community. Trikon International is a multinational conglomerate of corporations from the three continents (tri-con) of Asia, North America and Europe. Trikon Station is an orbiting satellite on which ecologically oriented experiments in genetic engineering too dangerous to be conducted on earth are being carried out. While the trappings are fascinating and the science is solid, the story itself never gets off the ground. In a standard Bova structure of a half-dozen or so interwoven story lines, a large cast-various nationals all angling for sole credit for saving the world, and all of whom are more types than characters-proceeds toward an implausibly happy ending.

Susan B. McFaden (review date August 1992)

McFaden, Susan. School Library Journal 38, no. 8 August 1992): 189.

The Trikon (three continents—North America, Asia, and Europe) Corporation [in The Trikon Deception ] has built a space station for research into developing a microbe that will eat pollutants and chemical waste. The chairman of the Trikon Board has a vision of international corporation, but in reality the space station is full of global intrigue. There is mystery, murder, spying, romance, and sabotage—something for everyone. The different personalities soon come to a climactic clash in which all is revealed. The day-today routine of life in space is believable and descriptive, from the logistics of eating, sleeping, shaving, and elimination to the scientific research itself. A very readable story that's truly a "technothriller."


Publishers Weekly (review date 15 March 1993)

Publishers Weekly 240, no. 11 (15 March 1993): 73.

This bland collection [Challenges ] gathers recent short stories and nonfiction essays by the Hugo Award-winning author of Mars, with each piece prefaced by the author's comments about his inspirations and writing methods. The stories display the typical elements of Bova's hard-SF orientation: robotic prosthetic limbs in the light-hearted tale, "The Man Who Hated Gravity" ; sentient computers in the cyberpunkish "World War 4.5" ; a mysterious alien artifact in "Sepulcher "; the problems of interstellar travel in "To Touch a Star." The author handles his subjects with clear prose and well-practiced skill, but none of these works breaks new ground. At best, he offers mildly intriguing perspectives on topics better handled elsewhere; at worst, he is prosaic and predictable. The nonfiction, dealing with the nature and technique of Sf-writing, is adequate but forgettable. Bova repeats himself from essay to essay; his arguments about the merits of SF as literature have been made before. The one truly engaging essay is "Science, Fiction and Faith," which contends that SF may be the mythology of the modern age. As a whole, this volume does not represent Bova's strongest work.

Barbara Hawkins (review date October 1993)

Hawkins, Barbara. School Library Journal 39, no. 10 (October 1993): 166.

A collection [Challenges ] of 12 science-fiction short stories and 6 essays that address challenges and change. In "The Man Who Hated Gravity," a circus accident cripples the great Rolando. Lawyers and the news media are satirized in "Fitting Suits" and in "Crisis of the Month." The purpose of art is explored i "Sepulcher," and Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" has been recast as a nuclear-holocaust story. The dangers of war, ESP, and life in the near future are among the themes included. Essays address the science in science fiction, faith, the future of writing, and the world in 2042. Aspiring writers, YAs wanting to plunge into this genre for the first time, fans of Bova, and teens just looking for some short pieces worth their time should all find pleasure here.


Roland Green (review date 1 May 1999)

Green, Roland. Booklist 95, no. 17 (1 May 1999): 1557.

Half-Navajo, half-Anglo astronaut Jamie Waterman is back on Mars [in Return to Mars ], several publishing seasons after his previous adventures in MARS (1992). His second expedition is motivated largely by expectations of profit from the life-forms discovered in the Vallis Marinaris on the first expedition. As far as Waterman is concerned, those pecuniary motives get the second fling off on the wrong foot from the beginning. Waterman also has to put up with small-group politics that are particularly virulent this far from Earth and with this much at stake with his own emotional attachments; and with a lengthening string of incidents that has the odor of sabotage about it. The last third of the yarn is literally a cliff-hanger, as the expedition maneuvers to reach unmistakable artifacts of intelligent life in a mountainous area. Characterization is better than usual in this kind of adventure, the pacing is brisk, the scientific details are convincing, and Bova's depiction of the Martian environment is outstanding indeed. No one who enjoyed MARS is likely to turn down this lively continuation of it.

Jeff Zaleski (review date 24 May 1999)

Zaleski, Jeff. Publishers Weekly 246, no. 21 (24 May 1999): 72.

The sequel of Bova's popular Mars (1992) [Return to Mars ] returns Navajo Jamie Waterman to the Red Planet as the mission director in tenuous command of a crew of scientists and astronauts jockeying for political power, romantic liaisons and scientific renown. And as anonymous journal entries also indicate, one of the explorers is seriously deranged. Waterman's chief rival on the mission is C. Dexter Trumball, the heir of the man who substantially funded the flight. Trumball has promised his wealthy father that the mission will make money, and he is determined to win his father's love and respect, even if it means turning Mars into a tourist attraction. For ideological reasons, Waterman is equally bent on keeping Mars free of tourists, especially his beloved "cliff dwellings"—a nearly inaccessible structural anomaly that he believes will prove there was once intelligent life on the planet. Waterman must struggle to find the Navajo way of negotiating the crew's various desires and manias. he must also contend wit the powers-that-be back on Earth to ensure that scientific concerns continue to supersede crass commercial interests. Bova makes the speculative hard science aspects of this novel vivid and appealing. His characters, however, are less enchanting, and the inclusion of a saboteur seems like overkill, since the environment he describes is more than capable of destroying anyone for simple carelessness. The novel ends with plenty of room for a sequel to pick up and continue the saga.

VENUS (2000)

Publishers Weekly (review date 21 February 2000)

Publishers Weekly 247, no. 8 (21 February 2000): 69.

In 1993 Bova took readers to Mars and himself onto bestseller lists. Last year's A Return to Mars also sold well. So a narrative about manned exploration of Venus seems an obvious step for this popular author, and Bova's new novel [Venus ] will indeed please his fans, as it offers his usual mix of solid science, serviceable (if sketchy) characterizations and lickety-split plotting with plenty of cliff-hangers. It's late in the 21st century. Three years ago, the first human to visit Venus, Alex Humphries, son of decadent multibillionaire Martin, never returned. Now Martin is offering $10 billion to whoever will retrieve Alex's remains from that planet's hellish surface. Racing against one another for the prize are Alex's aimless younger brother, Van (the story's narrator, who's just been disowned by Martin), and legendary asteroidminer Lars Fuchs, who detests Martin as much as Martin detests Van. Van's expedition goes bad early on; high above Venus, colonies of alien "bugs" eat through his ship's hull, forcing him an d his crew—several of whom die—to seek refuge on Fuchs's stronger craft. Personality conflicts rampage there, particularly between domineering Fuchs and mild-mannered Van, and there's romantic tension between a young female biologist and Van. The real drama, however, arises from revelations that explain the roots of the hatreds among Van, Fuchs and Martin, and during Van's dangerous descent in a small ship to the surface of Venus, which Bova depicts with strong visual imagery as a deadly inferno—albeit one inhabited by an unexpected life form. This novel clicks along only predictably as Van's coming of age tale, but as a voyage to an unknown world, it excels.

JUPITER (2001)

Publishers Weekly (review date 27 November 2000)

Publishers Weekly 247, no. 48 (27 November 2000): 58.

In continuing to explore the marvels of the solar system [in Jupiter ], Bova (Venus ) tracks the metamorphosis of his protagonist, Grant Archer, from a selfish, petulant grad student into a man who does what's right despite massive pressures. Sent to study on Jupiter's orbital space station, rather than the more desirable lunar colony, astrophysicist Archer resents everyone and complains about his bad luck; he isn't even allowed to study in his field of expertise. The New Morality, the ultrareligious creationist group who controls the U.S., has given him the additional task of spying on the station's untrustworthy scientists who are suspected of looking for Jovian life, The mere existence of extraterrestrials would conflict with New Morality doctrine. Grant is a true believer, but he's also a scientist resentful of the New Morality's control over his life. When he's given a chance to aid in the Jovian research, he jumps at it, even though it means horrifying modifications to his body and repeated drownings. This easy read provides solid action and wonder with credible alien life forms and inspired technology for exploring the Jovian depths. Jupiter is a new favorite destination for sci-fi exploration, and Bova's take on the planet is unique and enticing.

Forecast: Bova is one of the more popular SF writers—he's won six Hugos—and fans of Venus will delight in the continuation of the series, which gets a push in the Nov. issue of Locus, with Bova as the cover interview. Heavenly sales could ensue.

Roland Green (review date 1 & 15 January 2001)

Green, Roland. Booklist 97, nos. 9-10 (1 & 15 January 2001): 928.

Having taken us to MARS (1992), Venus [BKL Ap 100], and on a RETURN TO MARS (1999), [in Jupiter ] Bova explores the biggest planet in the solar system. Astrophysicist Grant Archer takes an assignment at the observatory orbiting the giant planet with the expectation that he will spy for the New Morality theocracy that rules Earth and is gravely suspicious of uncontrolled science. Dangerously skeptical, Archer gets involved in subversion when he discovers that some fellow scientists are conducting unauthorized experiments (e.g., genetic engineering of gorillas and dolphins) and planning a manned mission into the lethal Jovian cryosphere. The latter involves a liquid-filled spaceship-cum-submarine whose crew has been surgically modified to breathe liquid and communicate through electronic implants with the ship and one another. The mission succeeds by the skin of its teeth with the help of sapient Jovians—free-floating entities, each the size of a small asteroid. The New Morality receives a big kick in the teeth as science and rationality get a boost in this hard sf fans' delight.


Publishers Weekly (review date 10 September 2001)

Publishers Weekly 248, no. 37 (10 September 2001): 66.

The author of some 100 books, most of them either science fiction or science fact, six-time Hugo-winner Bova (Jupiter ; Venus ) is a longtime exponent of the industrialization of outer space, preferably by privately owned corporations, and here [The Precipice ] he continues in this vein. Earth is on the brink of disaster; in fact, it may have already toppled over the precipice. As a result of the greenhouse effect, the oceans have risen catastrophically and half of humanity faces immediate starvation. Two very rich industrialists, Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries, believe that they may have the key to the planet's salvation. Using new innovations in fusion and nano-technology, they want to send an experimental spaceship to the asteroid belt. The goal is to bring back enough raw materials to begin to move Earth's heavy industries into outer space, thus greatly reducing pollution and providing enough capital to transform the world. Randolph, despite his many years as a captain of industry, is still something of a starry-eyed optimist who truly wishes to save the planet. Humphries, however, is made of much more selfish stuff; his primary goals are to destroy Randolph and save only as much of Earth's civilization as he personally can rule. Bova has been writing variations on this novel for decades, and he knows his material well. Unfortunately, his work is often marred by a plodding prose style, somewhat stereotypical characters and deeply ingrained sexism. Still, this novel should appeal to Bova's regular audience, a mixture of traditional hard SF fans, space enthusiasts and libertarians.


Publishers Weekly (review date 18 March 2002)

Publishers Weekly 249, no. 11 (18 March 2002): 82.

Noted space expert Bova returns [in The Rock Rats] 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 ecocatastrophe, 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.

Jackie Cassada (review date 15 April 2002)

Cassada, Jackie. Library Journal 127, no. 7 (15 April 2002): 128.

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 protege 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.

Roland Green (review date 15 April 2002)

Green, Roland. Booklist 98, no. 16 (15 April 2002): 1386.

The second installment in Bova's Asteroid Wars series takes up the story after the space entrepreneur Dan Randolph's death in The Precipice [BKL O101]. Control of the Astro Corporation now hinges on the takeover bid of Martin Humphries, which former Randolph protege Pancho Lane is resisting. Humphries wants to suppress independent asteroid miners, such as Lars Fuchs, whose wife, Amanda, he also wants. Although he subordinates characterization to hardware, Bova is entirely equal to making the novel's personal and corporate rivalries interesting and even compelling. He is also, as usual, a whiz at inserting the latest (as of 100 years from now!) technological and astronomical developments into compelling scenes and settings. Well above average as hard sf and space advocacy, so that even many nonspace buffs and most fans of Bova's other recent work will enjoy it.

YA/M: For teens who like hard-edged space adventure with a high body count.

Christine C. Menefee (review date November 2002)

Menefee, Christine C. School Library Journal 48, no. 11 (November 2002): 194.

Adult/High School-Book [The Precipice ] 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.

SATURN (2003)

Publishers Weekly (review date 19 May 2003)

Publishers Weekly 250, no. 20 (19 May 2003): 57.

Too many characters with too many agendas vie for prestige and power en route to Saturn aboard the Space Habitat Goddard in Hugo winner Bova's middling follow-up to Jupiter (2001) and Venus (2002) [titled Saturn ]. Ten thousand intellectuals and scientists, mostly people who don't agree with the authoritarian regimes controlled by the religious fundamentalists who've taken over Earth's governments, have volunteered, been asked or been forced to leave on the long one-way journey. Among them are Malcolm Eberly, recruited by the Holy Disciples from a prison in Vienna with strict instructions to ensure the population chooses the path of righteousness. Eberly agrees to his covert task, confident he can impose his own rule, but he finds that gaining control is harder than he thought. Holy Disciple spies continually get in his way, while one of his subordinates murders for a promotion. Blackmail, subterfuge and another planned murder pile on top of Eberly's machinations to rig an election. Though Bova thoroughly explores human motivation and desires, readers will have a hard time figuring out who to root for—is Eberly a good guy or a bad guy?—and an even harder time caring about characters insufficiently fleshed out. Most memorable is the setting, the Goddard, with its echoes of the sailing ships that transported convicts to Botany Bay.

Roland Green (review date 1 & 15 June 2003)

Green, Roland. Booklist 99, no. 9-10 (1 & 15 June 2003): 1754.

[In Saturn, ] Bova continues his epic of solar system exploration by taking refugees from Earth's formidable fundamentalist theocracies on the long voyage to Saturn. The theocracies, by the way, continue as monoliths of villainy but are more in the background here than in Jupiter (2001). Bova's voyagers continue to be well-done archetypes for the most part, hardly as cliche-ridden as the characters in early space-advocacy fiction. The pacing is brisk, and lumps in the exposition are kept under control despite the temptations of yammering on about the technology necessary for the voyage and the wonders of Saturn's system. Regarding the latter, though—now that Arthur C. Clarke has retired and Charles Sheffield has departed, Bova is definitely the man to do justice to the astronomical marvels of the Saturnian system with its enormous potential as a second home for humanity, especially in the complex environments of its moons. Loud, prolonged applause, then, for the strengths of this book.


Publishers Weekly (review date 22 December 2003)

Publishers Weekly 250, no. 51 (22 December 2003): 42.

Six-time Hugo Award winner Bova likes to tell big stories in a small way [Tales of the Grand Tour ]. This approach both helps and hurts in this collection of stories, excerpts and outtakes from his "Grand Tour" novels (Saturn, etc.), which explore the colonization of the solar system. Despite his vast subject, Bova focuses tightly all the heroes and villains whose striving makes up his future history. While some characters are standards of the SF genre (megalomaniac capitalist, lone-wolf entrepreneur, line object caught between them), Bova imbues each with Homeric virtues and flaws. Plus, he can slip convention to present a tale of a crippled circus performer regaining his balance from a visit to the lower-gravity moon ("The Man Who Hated Gravity" ), or an account of unrequited love of a stunt double about to free-fall through Venus's skies ("High Jump" ). Like a folksy astrophysicist, Bova delights in talking about outer space, from the surface of Venus (hot enough to melt aluminum) through the asteroid belt (four times farther from the sun than Earth!) to the depths of Jupiter (a beach ball squashed down by an invisible child!). His excitement at being there matches his gusto for the dirty deeds done in the name of love, honor and duty. Less happily, the volume reveals his occasional repetitive prose, hidden across the novels. Similarly, the differing backstories of the novels sit uneasily next to each other. Still, his stories offer glimpses of the human side of space, the heroic grins and tragic grimaces alike.

Jackie Cassada (review date January 2004)

Cassada, Jackie. Library Journal 129, no. 1 (January 2004): 168.

In "Sam and the Flying Dutchman," space entrepreneur Sam Gunn answers a plea for help from a beautiful woman and nearly loses his heart and his life, while in "Leviathan," one of Jupiter's gigantic inhabitants encounters an alien life form that threatens its very existence. In this latest addition [Tales of the Grand Tour ] to his series of novels and stories on the expansion of humanity into the solar system, Bova collects a dozen short stories and excerpts from his "Grand Tour" novels (Mars ; Venus ; Jupiter ; Saturn ). A good introduction to the author's popular series of hard sf adventure.

Regina Schroeder (review date 1 & 15 January 2004)

Schroeder, Regina. Booklist 100, no. 9 (1 & 15 January 2004): 838.

Though some of these stories remain freestanding, Bova expanded or inserted many into the novels of his Grand Tour series, concerned with credible space exploration. The collection [Tales of the Grand Tour ] opener, "Sam and the Flying Dutchman," presents Sam Gunn, Bova's vision of the first space entrepreneur, getting involved in classic noir style with a beautiful woman requesting his help. Elsewhere, Bova shares legends like that of Harry Twelvetoes, who worked on a space-habitat construction crew, and tells the story of the first man to walk on the lowlands of Venus—as a daredevil's stunt double. Several stories are about astronaut Jamie Waterman: "Muzhestvo" picks up on him just before he is chosen for the first Mars mission; another has him encountering the dangers of the second Mars mission. The collection closes, in "Leviathan," with the first discovery, deep in the oceans of Jupiter, of evidence of humans by one of the giant beings native to those seas. Bova's tales encompass good characters, high-tension adventure, thoughtful introspection, and a sense of wonder.



Card, Orson Scott. Science Fiction Review 7, no. 5 (November 1978): 28-9.

Positive review of Colony.

Robinson, Spider. "The Reference Library." Analog 100 (December 1980): 159ff.

Reviews Bova's Exiles Trilogy, which includes Exiled from Earth, Flight of Exiles, and End of Exile.

Wood, Edward. Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact 99, no. 3 (March 1979): 166-67.

Negative review of Colony.

Additional coverage of Bova's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 16; Children's Literature Review, Vol. 3; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8R; Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Vol. 18; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vols. 11, 56, 94, 111; Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 45; Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, 1981; Literature Resource Center; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Eds. 1, 2; Major 20th-Century Writers, Ed. 1; St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers Ed. 4; and Something about the Author, Vols. 6, 68, 133.

About this article

Bova, Ben 1932-

Updated About content Print Article