January 27, 2020

Review: Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova.

A Classic Sci-Fi Read!

Back in the halcyon days of my science fiction-laced youth, I read a novel entitled Millennium. Said book depicted a joint U.S.-Soviet lunar colony in the then unimaginably far off year of 1999, and a world on the brink of annihilation by nuclear war. Like Larry Niven’s Footfall and other tales of the era, Millennium served as a dire warning reflecting the darkest days of the Cold War. It was therefore an honor that I got to meet the author of Millennium, Mr. Ben Bova over 30 years later at the 2011 Necronomicon in St. Petersburg, Florida and resolved to have his latest work, Leviathans of Jupiter in hand for a signing, expedited from Amazon and on our doorstep a mere day prior to the event.

Set in Mr. Bova’s Grand Tour universe, Leviathans of Jupiter was an excellent surprise that we devoured in a long weekend. The style of Mr. Bova evokes the bygone hard sci-fi days of Arthur C. Clarke and a time when the “science mattered” in getting a believable tale right. But beyond just “rockets and ray-guns,” Mr. Bova populates this future universe with characters that matter, bringing back physicist Grant Archer to once again probe the largest gas-giant in our solar system. The tale revolves around the blimp-sized Leviathans that have been discovered to inhabit the enormous oceans embedded in Jupiter’s atmosphere. This is a real idea, a form of gas-giant life in an ecology proposed by the late planetary scientist Carl Sagan.

Are the Leviathans intelligent? What will it take to penetrate deep into their world and survive the fierce pressures at depth? What is the perception of the universe for such arcane creatures that have never seen the vault of the sky? Mr. Bova paints a convincing and totally alien world which immerses the reader in a deepening mystery. But wherever humans go, intrigue and drama as well as personal agendas follow as ulterior motives aboard the Jupiter station orbiting high above threaten to sabotage the mission deep in the atmosphere below.  Released in 2011, Leviathans of Jupiter paints some stunning vistas and draws from our latest knowledge of the gas giant world. First visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973, Jupiter has since been reconnoitered by Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, New Horizons, Ulysses, Cassini and will soon have its newest resident and only the second to achieve orbit, NASA’s Juno in 2016. And although the possibility of a proposed Europa orbiter & lander currently looks bleak in the current political climate, we have the fertile minds of writers such as Ben Bova to spur our interest in future solar system exploration. As the author told us at the signing, books in the Grand Tour or Voyagers series can be read as “stand alone,” but I think I’m going to begin working my way through the entire series. Will I finish reviewing the entire series before NASA finally launches its submersible into the alien oceans of Europa remains to be seen…

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  1. [...] just one question that Portal poses. This would also be a great companion reader to Ben Bova’s Leviathans of  Jupiter or even the non-fiction book Unmasking [...]

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