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Mercury (2006)

Mercury (2006)

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3.66 of 5 Votes: 3
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0765343142 (ISBN13: 9780765343147)
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About book Mercury (2006)

This is the second of Ben Bova’s ‘Grand Tour of the Solar System’ series that I’ve read. The other one was ‘Jupiter’ and I think this one is better. This is definitely a story about people.It is about how Saito Yamagata, business tycoon, achieves his dream even as he fails his life; about who Dante Alexios, engineer, is and why he sets out on a path of vengeance; about Victor Molina’s fall from a position of importance and respect as a scientist. The mighty mostly fall on Earth, but find their true ends on Mercury.The planet is more than just a background. It’s natural features provide many of the various characters’ motives and explain how these people come together to move through their story.The writing is readable with good descriptions and explanations and the complex backstory is well handled.At the basis of the novel is a love story, coming from the story-past into the story-present and on into the future. Unfortunately this is the thing I found somewhat difficult. I know there are people whose desire to possess the love object takes strange and dangerous routes to the goal, but I didn’t think this was made totally convincing in this book. That there should be two people doing the strange and dangerous made it even harder to accept. I think one of the reasons for this is that the loved one did not have a strong enough role to make the excessive desire believable. I won’t say more about this as it would give too much away. On the whole this didn’t spoil the book for me – it’s introduced far enough along in the story for empathy with the characters to have developed anyway.The book is straight sci-fi – space opera even – no ‘steampunk’, ‘science fantasy’ or other sub-genre. Most science fiction fans will be familiar with Bova’s work. Any who aren’t and would like to make his acquaintance would do well to start with this book.

Mercury, by Ben Bova, starts out with great promise as a science fiction story complete with good science, exotic and dangerous celestial locations, and interesting, motivated characters. The book is essentially divided into three sections, the first two of which are outstanding and set the stage for a conclusion which turns out to be less than thrilling. The third and final section was a bit of a disappointment for a number of reasons. It is fitting that the two most interesting characters spend their final hours together in the third section but it is certainly not a satisfying experience for the reader. The last section is rushed by the author, apparently simply to finish the story. It ends without regard to the characters' redemption -- and there was plenty required when you consider that one character was responsible for the deaths of four million people. The theme of Mercury turned out to be vengeance, but Bova mishandles the opportunity to dish out justice to those who deserve it. Heroes are viewed to be villains in the end and the villains get away with their nefarious deeds. That's what makes this book a disappointing read.The second section is the best writing and concerns the construction of a space elevator, however the project is on Earth, not Mercury. As a matter of fact, much of the book takes place in locales other than Mercury, leaving the reader to feel he's been tricked -- after all, the cover says Mercury...Bova is a great writer but while the storyline of Mercury has great promise, the ending Bova comes up with is really weak.

Do You like book Mercury (2006)?

Another good piece of writing from Bova, though the title is slightly misleading, as the only real purpose that Mercury serves in the story is that of a fairly obvious metaphor for Purgatory (one of the chapters is even titled 'Purgatory'). In many science fiction works, the alien worlds upon/around which the stories occur are often fleshed to a point where they stand out as characters unto themselves (Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy jumps to mind); Bova's celestial locals, however, often feel like simple backdrops against which the drama unfolds. Bova's development of his human characters and their interactions, however, are quite good and make up for a lot of the setting's blandness. Mercury is an entertaining tale of the toll that being horribly wronged can have on a person, and of the madness that the need for vengeance can breed in a person's mind. A good, quick read.

This is the first thing I've ever read by Ben Bova despite the fact he's written a ton of sci-fi dating back at least four decades. You can really tell what era he started writing in as this is just old-school science fiction where adventure and suspense is more important that technology and the distant future. Despite the fact the action takes place on Mercury, this feels like an "earth" story due to Bova's style rooted in all the golden age sci-fi tropes. Fun, but nothing really below the surface.

This was crap. Bova typically explores the implications of some technological advancement on society. This was character study on revenge, and character development has always been a Bova weak point. His characters have typically been caricatures of space opera archetypes. Not that theres anything wrong with that in the context of his typical story, but without those larger issues to explore this book was a mess.I can see why the failed space elevator story is important for the universe of the Grand Tour series, but this feels like Bova couldn't come up with a compelling plot to introduce construction and subsequent sabotage.

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