Ben Bova continues his exploration of the Solar system, turning this time to the outer regions of the suns kingdom. The giant and remote world of Jupiter is the setting for yet another fantastic tale in his now well established series of solar system exploration sci-fi novels. Previous novels have taken us to the Moon, Mars and Venus. Followers of those stories will be able to pick up the plot of science versus religion that plays a pivotal role in this story. But also first timers to the Ben Bova solar system will have no trouble reading either.
Jupiter has a striking difference to other worlds featured in Ben Bova's novels. The huge planet has no surface. It is a giant world of gas and liquid. Mankinds foothold at Jupiter is in the form of a space station in orbit. The missions that depart and explore this strange world are more like deep sea diving than landings on another world. Humans plunge deep into the endless ocean of Jupiters atmosphere in specially constructed craft.
A young scientist, Grant Archer is sent unwillingly to serve time at the Jupiter station. However he slowly becomes more and more intrigued with the planet, and the mysterious goings on onboard the station. Grant Archer we learn is no ordinary new posting. He is in-fact an agent sent to spy and report back to the "New Morality" the extreme and powerful religious group running things back on Earth. The secretive scientists are certainly holding information, which the new morality would like suppressed. Brief sightings and strong evidence points to life in the ocean beneath Jupiters upper clouds. And future missions into the depths of the planet are hoped to reveal not just simple life forms as have been found on Mars and Venus, but complex and huge creatures that swim in the alien sea.
Archer is an enlightened man. He does have faith, but not the blinkered kind which features heavily inside the new morality. Archer is a keen scientist and has found a balance between his beliefs and his work. The chance of working on a project to uncover the first evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth is a thrilling one for him. And unlike his new morality bosses he has no problem with it. It is fascinating to follow Archer as he enters and gradually gets accepted into the secretive circle of the stations science staff. Culminating in his direct involvement in the boldest and deepest journey into the atmosphere of Jupiter. He is to be a crewmember on the craft which it is hoped will make contact with what could possibly be an intelligent alien race.
What follows is science fiction at its best. Thought provoking, exciting, and just what we have come to expect from an amazing writer. Ben Bova has conquered yet another world. And the good news is that he still has plenty of solar system members to take us to in future novels. In a genre where authors take us many millions of light years from Earth it is well worth reminding ourselves that we do not know just what could be present in our own back yard, the solar system. Ben Bova is painting us a picture of just some of the wonders that may await the first humans as they begin to explore our neighbouring planets.