cover image THE PRECIPICE: Book One of the Asteroid Wars

THE PRECIPICE: Book One of the Asteroid Wars

Ben Bova, . . Tor, $25.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-84876-7

The author of some 100 books, most of them either science fiction or science fact, six-time Hugo-winner Bova (Jupiter; Venus) is a longtime exponent of the industrialization of outer space, preferably by privately owned corporations, and here he continues in this vein. Earth is on the brink of disaster; in fact, it may have already toppled over the precipice. As a result of the greenhouse effect, the oceans have risen catastrophically and half of humanity faces immediate starvation. Two very rich industrialists, Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries, believe that they may have the key to the planet's salvation. Using new innovations in fusion and nanotechnology, they want to send an experimental spaceship to the asteroid belt. The goal is to bring back enough raw materials to begin to move Earth's heavy industries into outer space, thus greatly reducing pollution and providing enough capital to transform the world. Randolph, despite his many years as a captain of industry, is still something of a starry-eyed optimist who truly wishes to save the planet. Humphries, however, is made of much more selfish stuff; his primary goals are to destroy Randolph and save only as much of Earth's civilization as he personally can rule. Bova has been writing variations on this novel for decades, and he knows his material well. Unfortunately, his work is often marred by a plodding prose style, somewhat stereotypical characters and deeply ingrained sexism. Still, this novel should appeal to Bova's regular audience, a mixture of traditional hard SF fans, space enthusiasts and libertarians. (Oct. 26)