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    JUPITER by Ben Bova (see his website)

    TOR, January 2001

    Grant Archer has planned out his life. He'll put in his public service in a lunar observatory working on his dissertation on astronomy (a relatively harmless field in his religiously intolerant era), then settle down to being a scholar somewhere. With his beautiful wife, he's got it made. Grant's future, like the present, keeps few promises to the drafted. Instead of close-in Luna, he's sent to Jupiter where astronomy is simply not being studied and where scientists have been working on programs that threaten the faithful in a big way.

    Grant is sent by New Morality to spy on the Jupiter scientists--discover their secret plots, and ensure that they are unable to threaten the comfortable, if confining, belief structures of the intollerant religious groups that rule Earth. In orbit around Jupiter, he finds that things are as bad as his New Morality sponsors had feared. Possibly insane scientists are plumbing the water seas that surround Jupiter and think they may have found intelligent life. He tries to balance his beliefs with his science, but finds he must make a choice.

    JUPITER includes wonderful descriptions of a Jupiter that might be. The science and politics of a near-future are logical extensions of current trends. Grant is fairly typical of science fiction's golden age--an adolescent hero out to save the universe, but Ben Bova provides him with an added layer of complexity by making him both a man of faith and a scientist. Bova does a credible job mixing scientific speculation, teen-angst heroism, science vs. religion, and a mystery all in one novel.

    Science Fiction fans know Ben Bova (see other reviews of novels by this author) as a major author with a long history of excellent novels. JUPITER stands well among these.

    Three Stars

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