Review of 'The Precipice'

The Precipice by Ben Bova
Book 1 of the The Asteroid Wars series

the_precipice.jpg Earth is dying. The planet suffers from flooding and earthquakes looking into space for a solution. The moon offers promise for so much but a series of disagreements with Selene, the city based there, has put that out of the question. Martin Humphries is an ambitious businessman who sees an opportunity to take over the assets of his main competitor, Astro Manufacturing headed by Dan Randolph which is struggling financially, by suggesting a venture to mine the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter that will hopefully bankrupt Randolph so that Humphries can take over. When Astro discovers a cheap and quick way to travel to the belt without Humphries help, he is furious. When Randolph goes against spaceflight regulations to command the prototype spaceship on a trip to the belt accompanied by a rough but accomplished pilot Pancho Lane and a beautiful but equally talented Amanda Cunningham, Humphries sees his chance…

The first in the four books of the “Astroid Wars” by the “Hard” (or, at least, slightly stiff) Science Fiction author Ben Bova “The Precipice” differs from his other solar system novels by concentrating on the exploitation of the asteroids for profit. The science here seems plausible making the book all the better for it but still remains a very readable novel without any long digressions into technical mumbo-jumbo. Bova, as with his other novels, concentrates here largely on character though the painfully obvious stereotypes somewhat weaken the novel: A bad guy (Humphries - boo, hiss!) and the good guys (Randolph, Pancho and Amanda - yeah, yeah!). We continue reading to see if the good guy underdogs with their altruistic tendencies (saving the Earth!) will triumph over corporate greed. I should hope that the next novels in the series will put a bit more around these fairly one dimensional constructs.

Quite readable once you get into it with the pace building half way when the action builds up with the ship heading out into the asteroids. As might be expected most plot points are left unresolved at the end so you will probably want to pick up the next instalment.

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-06-24


Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: New English Library

Publication Date: 2001

ISBN: 0340769610


Other reviewed books by Ben Bova: