Review of 'The Silent War'

The Silent War by Ben Bova
3rd book in the 'The Asteroid Wars' series

the_silent_war.jpg Martin Humphries, head of Humphries Space Systems (HSS) with Amanda Cunningham now his bride and mother to a new, sickly, son is now more determined than ever to have dominion over the asteroids as the war heats up. The HSS base on the Vesta asteroid, built at great expense, is able to attack ships owned by rival Astro Corporation with president Pancho Lane. Humphries' efforts are repeatedly thwarted by Lars Fuchs, Amanda's former husband but now pirate banished even from the asteroid miner's habitat Chrysallis with their reluctant leader Big George Ambrose. The drug-fuelled mercenary Dorik Harbin is sent to find and kill the elusive Fuchs but his increasing detachment from reality threatens more than just Fuchs. Meanwhile the development of nanomachines capable of quickly splitting the rocks of the belt into their constituent components also provides the battling corporations with a hideous weapon of war. In the sidelines a dangerous new player in the form of the wealthy Saito Yamagata is building a “Shining Mountain Base” facility on the far side of the moon. Yamagato is happy to sit on the sidelines, letting HSS and Astro destroy each other then step in afterwards to pick up the pieces…

Part three of the “Asteroids War” series (yes, you should read the previous novels lest you wish to be completely lost and not appreciate the full impact of the events here) the action really heats up with the corporations blithely attacking one another with little consideration to the lives they touch (and which are only briefly touched on here). Humphries' megalomania reaches new heights with his continued obsession over Amanda and determination to kill Fuchs. He continues to be a very “bad guy” though Pancho here begins to get her hands dirty with no one an innocent player.

There are a number of stories going on here but they are easy to follow for readers of the series. As the story unfolds the events get more and more dramatic as the body toll rises (aside: they really do need some sort of policing agency here…with people literally getting away repeatedly with murder). The threads of the book build up to a suitable climax that then quickly leads to an unlikely and tidy conclusion that, in my opinion, render the pages of build up moot.

Still a good page turner, Bova does entertain and provide an easy touch on the SF-aspects of the series in such a way that most should be able to easily follow. As the series progresses the characters are becoming slightly more filled out though this is a novel of “stuff” - technology and dramatic events. A good number of convenient circumstances serve to send events spiralling out of control but leading, of course, to a more interesting story.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2017-07-02

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: New English Library

Publication Date: 2004

ISBN: 0340769637

Other reviewed books in the 'The Asteroid Wars' series:

Other reviewed books by Ben Bova: