Review of Jupiter by Ben Bova

June 30, 2006
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Jupiter by Ben BovaJupiter
By Ben Bova; Read by Christian Noble and
David Warner
8 Cassettes, 10 CDs – 12 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2001
ISBN: 1574534114 (cassette)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Solar System / Scientists / Aliens / Exploration
/ First Contact / Espionage

“We will be exploring a region where no human has gone before. We will be searching for life on a world that is utterly alien to us. We will be seeking intelligent life, if it exists, down in the sea. These are good things to do no matter how much discomfort we have to endure.”

Ben Bova has been creating novels in his Grand Tour series since 1992. The series is based on a speculative near future exploration of our solar system. If you haven’t read or listened to any of these books, Jupiter is a good place to start. In this novel the main character, Grant Archer, is sent to a Jupiter research station. He is sent as an unwitting spy for a theocratic government. The fundamentalist religious government is afraid of some secret research that could destabilize their political control. Grant Archer, who is a scientist and a devout believer, struggles with the dual role that has been thrust upon him. He has to figure out why the space station has a genetically altered gorilla and a unique space craft tethered to the station. And there’s big question of what the crew has discovered on the massive planet, Jupiter.

The audiobook is read by two actors, Christian Noble and David Warner. I find multiple narrators confusing. I’m not talking of a cast recording here, but of the narrative duties of a novel being divided between two or more people. While listening, I wonder why there’s a change of narrators instead of paying attention to the story. That’s not the case on this audiobook. There’s a shift of viewpoint, which is easily understood, and one is quite divergent from the other.

The audiobook begins with a nice introduction by Ben Bova’s long time friend, Harlan Ellison. And there’s a also a postscript by the author himself. Nice additions to an already rewarding listen.

Bova is a master of his craft. His characters and world-building are well developed. His theme of religion versus science is well defined. His plotting is well paced. He writes with a scientific accuracy that places him as one of the best hard SF writers. He has written over 100 books and has won six Hugos. Is this the next SF Grand Master? I can’t think of a better candidate.

ed. – This review was of Ben Bova’s Jupiter as released in 2001 by Fantastic Audio. In 2005, Audio Renaissance re-issued this same recording on CD – ISBN 1593974884.

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