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Bova, Ben


Return to Mars

Return to Mars Lowest new price: $2.99
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Author: Ben Bova
Brand: Harper Voyager

Six years after the first manned Martian expedition, a second has been announced -- one motivated purely by its profitable potential -- and half-Navajo, half-Anglo geologist Jamie Waterman's conflicted soul is beckoning him back to the eerie, unforgiving planet. As commander of the new exploratory team, he will have to contend with a bitter and destructive rivalry, a disturbing new emotional attraction, and deadly, incomprehensible "accidents" that appear to be sabotage, all of which could doom the mission to failure. But there is much more at stake than Waterman's personal redemption and the safety of his crew. For there are still great secrets to be uncovered on this cruel and enigmatic world -- not the least being something he glimpsed in the far distance during his first Martian excursion: an improbable structure perched high in the planet's carmine cliffs; a dwelling that only an intelligent being could have built.

In Ben Bova's 1992 bestselling book Mars, geologist Jamie Waterman and his crewmates discovered the existence of primitive lichen on the floor of the great Martian canyon known as the Valles Marineris. In Return to Mars, Waterman is headed back to the Red Planet, this time in charge of an expedition that hopes not only to study Martian life but also to prove that exploring Mars can be profitable. Waterman also wants to revisit a part of the canyon where he thought he spotted a primitive cliff dwelling during the first Martian mission. The second voyage to Mars runs into trouble right away, however, as Waterman clashes with Dex Trumball, the son of a billionaire who's backing the expedition. Dex wants to turn Mars into a tourist attraction, while Waterman wants to preserve the planet for scientific research. Both men are also attracted to the expedition's beautiful psychologist, Vijay Shektar, who can't seem to decide which of the two she likes best. As if that weren't enough, one of the Mars team may be trying to sabotage the mission, while back home the elder Trumball is pulling strings in order to force Waterman to step down as the expedition's leader.

Like Jamie Waterman, Bova takes on a lot of responsibility in this second Mars book. He's trying to create a complex story that relies equally on science, characterization, and politics, mixed in with a healthy dose of mystery and a dash of thriller. As usual, Bova nails the science but fares less well--though by no means poorly--with his characters. He pulls off the politics with confidence, but the thriller subplot seems forced. Finally, the mysteries (there are several) all succeed reasonably well, though some are more compelling than others. The whole makes up a thoroughly enjoyable novel both about what life might be like on an expedition to Mars and what Martian life might be like. It's a better book than its predecessor, and it can be read entirely on its own thanks to Bova's carefully interwoven details about the back story that took place in Mars. --Craig E. Engler

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Jupiter: A Novel (Grand Tour)

Jupiter: A Novel (Grand Tour) Lowest new price: $2.93
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Author: Ben Bova

Grant Archer only wanted to study astrophysics. But the forces of the "New Morality," the coalition of censorious do-gooders who run 21st-century America, have other plans for him.

To his distress, Grant is torn from his young bride and sent to a research station in orbit around Jupiter, to spy on the scientists who work there. Their work may lead to the discovery of higher life forms in the Jovian system-with implications the New Morality doesn't like at all.

What Grant's would-be controllers don't know is that his loyalty to science may be greater than his desire for a quiet life. But that loyalty will be tested in a mission as dangerous as any ever undertaken-a mission to the middle reaches of Jupiter's endless atmosphere, a place where hydrogen flows as a liquid, and cyclones larger than planets rage for centuries at a time.

What lurks there is more than anyone has counted on...and stranger than anyone could possibly have imagined.

He made planetfall on Venus and all but colonized Mars, so it's not surprising that SF don Ben Bova finally set his sights on our solar system's swirling, red-eyed sovereign.

As with his previous planetary exploration books, Jupiter plants you right in the heart of the action, witness to the speculative science and political intrigue--and in this case, religious machination--that surround a fast-paced, dangerous, and technically fleshed-out mission. Our unlikely hero on this touchdown is an earnest, likeable, hard-working grad student named Grant Archer, a frustrated astrophysicist who's been shanghaied aboard Jupiter's Gold space station to fulfill a ROTC-style public-service commitment. What's worse, this devout young man has been ordered by the New Morality--the American flavor of the conservative religious order that runs Earth nowadays--to spy on some suspicious research involving alleged Jovian life forms.

Bova begins his book with an A.C. Clarke quote: "The rash assertion that 'God made man in His own image' is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths." This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about where this book's going, and who, respectively, will be wearing the white and the black hats (unfortunately, some of the characterizations don't get much deeper). That the central protagonist is both a Christian and a scientist makes for some fertile character development, but Bova's not exactly gunning for God here--he's happy just to blast away at narrow-minded ideologues and other assorted religious fanatics. (But that, of course, is about as easy as making teenagers depressed.) --Paul Hughes

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Mars

Mars Lowest new price: $4.39
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Author: Ben Bova

Twenty-five astronauts of the international Mars mission set down on the harsh and unforgiving planet and soon face deadly meteor showers, subzero temperatures, and a mysterious virus. Reprint.

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Leviathans of Jupiter

Leviathans of Jupiter Lowest new price: $3.16
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Author: Ben Bova

In Ben Bova's novel JUPITER, physicist Grant Archer led an expedition into Jupiter's hostile planetwide ocean, attempting to study the unusual and massive creatures that call the planet their home. Unprepared for the hostile environment and crushing pressures, Grant's team faced certain death as their ship malfunctioned and slowly sank to the planet's depths. However one of Jupiter's native creatures--a city-sized leviathan--saved the doomed ship. This creature's act convinced Grant that the huge creatures were intelligent, but he lacked scientific proof.

Now, several years later, Grant prepares a new expedition to prove once and for all that the huge creatures are intelligent. The new team faces dangers from both the hostile environment and from humans who will do anything to make sure the mission is a failure, even if it means murdering the entire crew.

One of Library Journal's Best SF/Fantasy Books of 2011

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The Rock Rats (Asteroid Wars)

The Rock Rats (Asteroid Wars) Lowest new price: $1.22
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Author: Ben Bova

Visionary space industrialist Dan Randolph is dead-but his protégé, pilot Pancho Barnes, now sits on the board of his conglomerate. She has her work cut out for her. For Randolph's rival Martin Humphries still wants to control Astro and still wants to drive independent asteroid miners like Lars Fuchs out of business. Humphries wants revenge against Pancho-ands, most of all, he wants his old flame Amanda, who has become Lars Fuchs's wife.

In the struggle over the incalculable wealth of the Asteroid Belt, many will die-and many will achieve more than they ever dreamed was possible.

Ben Bova's second installment in the Asteroid Wars series continues his trademark style, with caricatured characters in a classic Greek dramatic structure duking it out against a high-tech, Libertarian-influenced, future-history backdrop. Billionaire jerk and womanizer Martin Humphries stirs the pot again, overcoming attempts to oust him from the Selene moon base. His grip on Humphries Space Systems and its economic scheming remains as tight as ever, but he still desires two things: control of the asteroid belt's rich resources and, of course, possession of the ever-elusive Amanda What's-her-name at the expense of likeable alpha male number two, gruff prospector Lars Fuchs. ("One look at Amanda's innocent blue eyes and full-bosomed figure and any man would be wild to have her." We're left to guess as to whether the "wide-eyed," "lusciously curved" Amanda has any other qualities, desirable or otherwise.)

For Bova fans, Rock Rats has it all--cool technology, whip-fast action, and choreographed intrigue--and this installment certainly ups the ante in the series. As Bova gravely notes, "[T]he Belt became the region where prospectors and miners could make fortunes for themselves, or die in the effort. Many of them died. More than a few were killed." --Paul Hughes

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Orion and King Arthur

Orion and King Arthur Lowest new price: $4.40
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Author: Ben Bova
Brand: Brand: Tor Science Fiction

Ben Bova’s timeless hero returns . . . at the nexus of myth and history!

More than human, less than god, Orion has fought across time and space at the whims of his Creators, god-like beings from the future who toy with human history like spoiled children playing with dolls. From the frozen wastes of the Ice Age to far-flung interstellar empires, Orion has been both assassin and hero, all the while striving to be reunited with Anya, the ageless goddess who is his one true love.

Now Orion finds himself in Britain in the dark years after the Romans abandoned the island kingdom. Minor kings and warlords feud amongst themselves even as invading hordes of Saxons and Angles threaten to sweep over the land. There Orion befriends a young warrior named Arthur, who dreams of uniting his quarreling countrymen and driving the invaders from their lands. Along with a few brave comrades, Arthur hopes to the stem the tide of barbarism and create a new era of peace and prosperity.

But Orion’s vainglorious Creator, Aten the Golden One, has other plans for the timeline. Arthur’s noble ambitions interfere with Aten’s far-reaching schemes to reshape history to his own ends. He wants Arthur dead and forgotten---but Orion does not.

Defying his own creator, and risking his own immortal existence, Orion will battle the gods themselves to see that Arthur fulfills his destiny. But can even he save Arthur from the tragedy that awaits him?

Orion and King Arthur is a thrilling new chapter in Ben Bova’s unforgettable cosmic saga.

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Aliens and Alien Societies (Science Fiction Writing Series)

Aliens and Alien Societies (Science Fiction Writing Series) Lowest new price: $24.99
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Author: Stanley Schmidt

Teaches writers how to use real scientific knowledge of our universe to create more convincing extraterrestrial life forms in their science fiction or fantasy novel.

Whether you're a writer or a reader of science fiction, this how-to guide provides thought-provoking analyses of the ways in which aliens and alien societies can be portrayed convincingly. It's almost as fascinating as the many classic SF texts it analyses.

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Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction

Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Tales of Hard Science Fiction Lowest new price: $25.19
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The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells

The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells Lowest new price: $6.00
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Author: Ben Bova

Guides writers step by step through the major elements of SF storytelling, showing how to construct strong, editor-attracting stories and novels.

Ben Nova, best-selling novelist and former editor of Analog and Omni magazines, guides you through the major elements of science-fiction storytelling: character, background, conflict, and plot. Bova has received the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor six times.

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Saturn: A Novel of the Ringed Planet- And the Humans Who Explore It (The Grand Tour)

Saturn: A Novel of the Ringed Planet- And the Humans Who Explore It (The Grand Tour) Lowest new price: $1.89
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Author: Ben Bova

Second in size only to Jupiter, bigger than a thousand Earths but light enough to float in water, home of crushing gravity and delicate, seemingly impossible rings, it dazzles and attracts us:

SATURN

Earth groans under the thumb of fundamentalist political regimes. Crisis after crisis has given authoritarians the upper hand. Freedom and opportunity exist in space, for those with the nerve and skill to run the risks.

Now the governments of Earth are encouraging many of their most incorrigible dissidents to join a great ark on a one-way expedition, twice Jupiter's distance from the Sun, to Saturn, the ringed planet that baffled Galileo and has fascinated astronomers ever since.

But humans will be human, on Earth or in the heavens-so amidst the idealism permeating Space Habitat Goddard are many individuals with long-term schemes, each awaiting the tight moment. And hidden from them is the greatest secret of all, the real purpose of this expedition, known to only a few....

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