Ben Bova
Powersat Cover

begin a series on an uncertain step ... I think it will get better


This is one of those books I read because I needed to. If it hadn't been for Mars and for the rest of the Grand Tour series I might have quit after 50 pages. It's not that it's a bad book, it is at least above average. However, it isn't very compelling science fiction. It is a suspence thriller. If Bova had made the Powersat into an experimental medicine or any other of a dozen technology driven enterprises it still would have worked. The story had less to do with space than I like and more to do with the political, economic and terrorist driven intrigue surrounding the potential of the technology. That's fine as far as it goes. It would have probably been equally too SFy for anyone who simply wanted a thriller, so ...

That being said, it sets the stage of development for the rest of the Grand Tour and since I already shelled out my buck a volume for many of these books, I hope it compares more favorably to Mars than this one did. Although SF is supposed to be a genre about ideas, and Bova does that, he is also pretty good at characters. Randolph is a little too naive to have gotten so far. His affair with Senator Thornton is a little too schoolboy rosy. April's self-sacrifice, a little too idealized. However, Bova does follow them well and take us into their hearts more than some SF authors would. Even though they are a little too clean, they are also not flat. I will continue the Grand Tour because the next steps take me into the future I want to see, the one where we actually and regularly break the bonds of gravity and see the solar system.