The surface of Venus is the most hellish place in the solar system - it's ground hot enough to melt aluminum, its air pressure high enough to crush spacecraft landers like tin cans, it's atmosphere a choking mix of poisonous gases. This is where the frail young Van Humphries must go-or die trying.
Years before, Van's older brother perished in the first attempt to land a man on Venus. Van's father has always hated him for being the one to survive. Now, his father is offering a $10 billion prize to the first person who lands on Venus and returns his oldest son's remains. To everyone's surprise, Van takes up the offer. But what Van Humphries will find on Venus will change everything-our understanding of Venus, of global warming on Earth, and his knowledge of who he is.
©2000 Ben Bova (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Bova proves himself equal to the task of showing how adversity can temper character in unforeseen ways." (New York Times)
"A top-notch adventure story of broken dreams and lifelong hatreds that match the turbulence of Venus itself.... Recommended for SF collections." (Library Journal)
"Exciting and vividly wrought." (Kirkus Reviews)
Having enjoyed Ben Bova's Mars series of stories probably the best out of the few others I'd read with his Jupiter stories coming a close second but not really getting on with his Moon based novels I was undecided about trying Venus. Most of the other titles in his Grand Tour series of books other than what I'd already read didn't appeal to me although there might be some movement on that based on my reading of Venus.
As alluded to, I was rather hesitant about getting Venus and the audio sample had on my first listen put me off with it's seemingly rather weird party scene which reminded me of the worst of the classic Star Trek 60's TV series. However, after reading some reviews and frankly not knowing what else to read I decided that nothing ventured, nothing gained and went ahead and purchased it.
Right away I noticed that Venus is fairly unique in the first-person story telling aspect used. Everything in the novel is as experienced through the protagonist, Van Humphries and follows his pursuit of a 10 billion dollar reward for the return of his brother's remains lost on Venus several years before in a failed expedition. of course, with such a rich bounty on offer from Van's estranged wealthy father there is also a rival in the running for the lucrative prize in the form of Lars Fuchs, a tough and unrelenting character and bitter enemy to Van's father. Fuchs is a character along with Martin Humphries seen in another Bova story that is set some years earlier entitled "The Rock Rats".
Venus gets going quickly and before we know it the reader is thrust into the journey to Venus and even quicker still into the upper cloud deck of the mysterious planet. The action and fast paced story never flags and this has to be one of Bova's most riveting stories of those I've read within this series and actually ranks higher in terms of action and tension than my previous favourite Mars series of stories. Everything in the story works well and Venus is a fine adventure that is a real page turner.
Fortunately, unlike much of Bova's work the love story here doesn't seem superfluous or over done and does not detract from the action and intrigue. One element that did puzzle me though was how Van's father had any influence over his son's attempt at retrieving his brother's remains. I had gathered that Van had raised all the funds independently of his father and thus had no links to him in that respect. However, a very minor thing if not a little puzzling to me.
The other major plus factor to this audio book is the single narrator in the form of Stefan Rudnicki. Some of the audio books in this series use multiple narrators which I think was done to highlight certain characters but to my mind fails due to the change of voices with some of the female ones being shrill and rather irritating to my ear in my opinion.
Venus has to be one of Bova's best stories in his Grand Tour series and is thankfully free of all the Earth side politics so often covered in other books which really mire the story in those novels in my opinion.
I would like to see another Venus based story as there is so much untapped potential with the life forms found in the cloud deck and on the surface. I think the more hostile the native environment of a world the more interesting the stories that can be generated. Venus is a straight-forward, uncomplicated action story that is entertaining and holds the readers interest throughout. Recommended.
"Someone turn on the air conditioning please..."
Didn't read print version, so N/A.
It was not unexpected, but not so predictable as to be trite. Bova generally does a good job at wrapping things up nicely, and this story is no exception.
Stefan owns the Bova characters, and this one is particularly well rendered. His accents, emotions and rawness are always impressive.
Something to do with Lucifer.
This story continues the Bova/Rudnicki tradition of author and performer working as a team. If you enjoyed the other offerings in the Planet series, this one will entertain you. It works as a free standing story as well, however.
Fun sci-fi read with family rivalries and loyalties that change as the read progresses. The penetration of Venus was believable and I hung on every word. I have worked for leaders like the captain of the space ship Lucifer--domineering and insecure. On to the next book in the series.
"Absolutely loved this Audiobook!"
I can hardly wait to download the next book by Ben Bova! This is by far the best I have read/listened to since Sir Arthur C. Clarke's works. Just cannot get enough. The Mars series was also fantastic, as was the Sam Gunn Omnibus. The narration is exquisite.
Report Inappropriate Content