cover image The Green Trap

The Green Trap

Ben Bova, . . Forge, $24.95 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-765-30924-2

Bova depicts a near-future when crude oil costs $110 per barrel in this cautionary but hopeful thriller (after 2006's Titan ) that hinges on scientist Michael Cochrane's discovery of a cheap, safe way to produce hydrogen fuel. The story opens with Cochrane's death and the disappearance of his laptop. His brother, Paul, attempts to find the killer and the data, only to fall into a tangle of intrigue: an energy mogul tries to suppress the new technology, a senator considers using it to boost his presidential campaign, Chechens seek to undermine Russia's petroleum industry and various freelancers look to sell the formula to the highest bidder. Readers of Heinlein's 1940 short story " 'Let There Be Light!' " will note some familiar moments, but Bova adds modern twists and a genuinely surprising ending to the age-old clash between oblivious scientists and worldly schemers. (Nov.)