Saturn: A Novel of the Ringed Planet Mass Market Paperback – Aug 26 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
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). 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
For example, character X says to characters Y and Z, her friend and her bodyguard, "Hi, I found out who the murderer is and he's after me!" What do Y and Z do?
They don’t react at all to this stunning revelation. Not even a, “You’re crazy, that can’t be true!” They, in fact, merrily carry on their … actually, what exactly did they do for three years? Work in lab, test space suit, eat at the bistro? I’m shocked that there was only one murder on the voyage.
I don't even mind the religion bashing because it fits the societal background, but for a book about space exploration, there was almost no exploration at all. The only truly exciting character (Poncho) got left behind on the moon by Mr. Bova. Lucky for Poncho.
Gaarrghh! FB - -
After tackling the Moon (two or three times), Mars (twice), Venus and Jupiter, I suppose that Saturn was the next logical adventure. However, unlike the previous books (even "Venus" which I disliked) there is very little about Saturn actually in the book!
The book deals largely with an artificial habitat sent from Earth to Saturn, and the interactions and machinations of the persons living on that habitat. Once again, as in "Jupiter", Bova takes whacks at religious fundamentalism -- but without the benefit (or relief) of any sympathetic religious character. Issues of sex, politics, manipulation, and violence are played out -- with varying amounts of success. The life-form? eventually discovered
in the rings of Saturn are certainly more believable than the silliness in "Venus", but really are a bit far-fetched.
Passable, but certainly not extraordinary.
The real focus of the story is the giant spaceborne habitat "Goddard" which, for some reasons unknown to us, is being sent to Saturn to be a colony there. Why, I'm still not sure. The story mostly follows Susie (Holly) Lane, Pancho Lane's sister come back to life due to a miracle of cryogenics... or something. I wish this was explained a little better, especially after it was set up in detail in The Precipice. The other main character is a recently released convict named Malcolm Eberly who strives to gain political control of the habitat.
To be blunt, the story starts off really slow. I kept waiting for Bova to get to the good stuff (i.e. the science and exploration), but it really never happened. The science takes a back seat, and unfortunately, the character story that drives the book is second-rate, at best. Granted, it did get better towards the end, and there was a bit of suspense added to make me care more for the characters. However, this is not one of Bova's best. Stick to the science next time, Ben.
I found none of the characters particularly engaging as they were either two dimentional (Vyborg and Urbain are classic examples) or paper thin, totally lacking in the complexities that define real people. The plot is one-dimensional - no complexity, no background, no color. The story arc was so predictable I was tempted to fast forward to the end. The inter-chapter science lessons were annoying and a very pale imitation of Pohl's Gateway.
Even the science was low-cal. There is some mention of nanotech, which might be Bova's latest interest - particularly as it pertains to human longevity, and that's about it. Passing references to orbital mechanics, life in Jupiter's atmosphere and on Titan do not add much as its so fleeting the reader might miss it rather than be snapped up short to wonder - Now what was that?
Finally, I find hard to believe that a future society that is exploiting Jupiter's atmosphere for rocket fuel, and can build a sturcture in space large enough to house 10,000 people and propel it to Saturn on a 2-3 year trajectory had not sent anybody to Saturn prior to the voyage of Goddard? That they would be the first ones to see the rings and Titan up close? Get real.
Most recent customer reviews
Sci fi situation sets the stage for a political power struggle. The characters were interesting enough to make me care. I would have liked more backstory on the villains. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Linda Novak
Ben Bova just has this knack of creating credible characters that you get invested in right from the start. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2011 by fastreader
Ben Bova has, yet again, written a very readable and enjoyable tale. As with his other books in the Grand Tour series, Saturn could not be called a heavyweight of literature but... Read morePublished on July 19 2004 by Amazon Customer
First- this isn't bovas' best work, but I still think it was a good read. It expands nicely into the grand tour idea. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2004 by Chris Schmitt
I'll certainly commend Ben Bova for his fascinating exploration of the space habitat Goddard as it traverses interplanetary space from the Moon (Selene) to distant Saturn. Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2004 by John Kwok
This book is possibly the worst so far of Bova's solar system novels and it was actually quite an effort for me to finish it. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by S. Crouch
i own nearly all of ben bova's works of science fiction and consider myself a hardcore fan of his. although i say not all of his books are that great. Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2003
The list of superlatives one can use to describe a story by Ben Bova is long. I just like his writing -- always have -- he gives you part adventure, part mystery, part thriller &... Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2003 by Rebecca Brown