What secrets lurk in the depths of Jupiter’s oceans?
In Ben Bova’s novel Jupiter, physicist Grant Archer led an expedition into Jupiter’s planet-wide ocean, attempting to study the unusual and massive creatures that call the planet their home. Unprepared for the hostile environment and crushing pressures, Grant’s team faced certain death as their ship malfunctioned and slowly sank to the planet’s depths. However, one of Jupiter’s native creatures—a city-sized leviathan—saved the doomed ship. This creature’s act convinced Grant that they were intelligent, but he lacked scientific proof. Now, several years later, Grant prepares a new expedition to prove it once and for all. The new team faces dangers from both the hostile environment and from humans who will do anything to make sure the mission is a failure—even if it means murdering the entire crew.
©2011 Ben Bova (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Fully realized characters and a fast-action plot…Bova’s fans and hard SF lovers should flock to his latest novel.” (Library Journal)
“Multiple Hugo winner Bova’s 18th Grand Tour novel is a quick-paced space adventure.” (Publishers Weekly)
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I'm quite sad that this novel isn't good as there are good ideas present within. The fact that I spent five bucks and wanted something worth my money is also present, but let's forgo that.
The biggest problem is the antagonist of this book. Westfall is completely unneeded given the plot of exploring an alien planet and trying to make contact with the life there. The whole novel could have hinged on "Man vs Alien" and "Man vs Environment" and been better for it. Westfall's inclusion is unnecessary, made even worse in that her character is completely idiotic. Her motives are downright stupid, as are her actions. Other characters are intimidated and afraid of her, apparently forgetting that they are all weeks away from Earth orbiting Jupiter; she's powerless there. Many of the main characters, and the protagonist, know she's up to something sinister, but they never confront her on this like rational people. She honestly ruins the novel.
The book is a slow moving mess, preferring to absorb itself in politics rather than the alien planet and the alien life. It's not until around hour 12 or so that the characters make it to Jupiter. Too much time is spent on board Station Gold in an attempt to establish unneeded and poorly constructed sub plots. There's a lengthy time devoted to two of the main characters talking with dolphins, trying to prove that they are smarter than they appear, and it all falls flat.
One of the main characters, D, is a girl. Now, there are some small hints at how she needs to take care of herself and watch out, but those don't go anywhere. I know it's odd to wish a book to take a turn to the dark side, but seeing as Station Gold is a closed system with a finite amount of men and women, the possibility of sexual assault and the like is surely there, yet never dealt with. Everyone finds D attractive, yet only two people flirt with her, and one of those people does it more as a joke than anything else.
Some of the characters, just in general, seem stupid in regards to what they say and do. This isn't the kind of realistic stupidity, but more the kind that is needed to advance the plot.
There are also brief mentions of religion, but the author doesn't do anything with them. Unlike C.S. Lewis who based his entire science fiction stories around religious themes, those in this novel appear and disappear at random, almost acting as subliminal messages than actual motifs or themes. It's both annoying and disappointing.
There are good ideas here, but it takes too long to get to them. Some aren't even contemplated. I will say, it's narrated really well which can make or break an audiobook.
The question this book asks is "If we met an alien life form, how would me determine if it was intelligent? Also, how would the alien life form determine if we were intelligent? Westfall's inclusion as antagonist is unnecessary, made even worse in that her character is idiotic, her motives are stupid, as are her actions. I would have liked to see more politics by the Leviathan elders as it would have been the aliens discovering about us and about paradigm changes. Ben Bova knows how to tell a good story and I want to see if the heroine returns.
"Don't get this book"
Don't waste your money and buy this book. I have tried to read Ben Bova years ago and forgot why I stoped at only the one book. His writing is awful. How many times do we have to hear a conversation "He said..." "She said..." "He said..." "She said...." "He said..." on and on and on. Come on, when writing conversations between two people, we, the readers, can follow without labeling every line. He also wrote obvious lines like when two characters were talking, then the female character had to explain the motive of the male's portion of the conversation....Like we couldn't figure that out ourselves. I will not listen to another Ben Bova book again and I will remember why..
It's a hard sci-fi story that goes out of its way to emphasize the purpose of science and exploration. The characters are stereotypes, but the plot is solid. Most of the narrators are pretty good.
"Great Story marred by Poor Performance Chorus"
One of the better stories, original and interesting.
Reminds me a little of "Stranger in a Strange Land".
Three or four voices reading, handing off in strange places. The trouble is their accents or reading of the characters are all different. It would throw me off every time. One reader would give a character a strong Australian accent, another one wouldn't. It took me out of the story trying to figure out who the character was. It really hurt the flow of the story. Really a good example of never to do it again in the same way.
Second contact, on Jupiter
I also had technical issues with the file, the first time in years. It seemed to jump around backwards. Sometimes a few chapters, sometimes more. It was a little disconcerting, but also surprising how I could listen to the same thing over again and hear more of the story the second time. So, I didn't hate it.
"Gotta love Bova"
I will work my way through Bova's solar system and enjoy every minute of it.
"Another hit as expected."
Bova ia consistently excellent. I grew up on sci fi and he is one of the greats.
"Not As Good As "Jupiter""
Having read and enjoyed the forerunner to this story I selected "leviathans
of Jupiter" as my next read so that I could find out more about the
mysterious creatures we encountered in that first story, "Jupiter". I was
also wanting to see how the main character in the prequel, Grant Archer had
got on and so I looked forward to this book despite the generally
unfavourable reviews I had read.
In summary, I found the novel not quite as good as the first story and I put
this down largely to some of the characters. As I have said in my previous
reviews, Bova has a somewhat hit and miss record when it comes to getting
his characters right and he has got some misses here. However, what I think
was the worst aspect of the book and one I've seen repeated on several other
Bova stories is the multi-narrator format. In my view this type of format
doesn't work or perhaps I should say that it might work better if the choice
of narrators was better. Stefan Rudnicki did his usual competent job of
narration but alas his contributions were minimal. The first English
accented female narrator we hear in the story that describes Jupiter to the
listener tends to have a tone in her voice as if she's relating the
narrative to a group of 10 year olds sat in class which was slightly
irritating. There is another English accented female that does the majority
of the Catherine Westfall character and she does the Australian accent
perfectly. However, she does a an almost pantomime rendition of all male
characters in an over attempt to compensate for a deeper male voice.
The narrator that performs the "D" character was OK but when she spoke the
lines of the Corvis or Yeager characters she tended to sort of do it as if
they were almost shouting or were exclaiming everything. The fewest
contributions were by another American accented female who largely spoke the
Linda character and her voice was awful. Grating and nasal sounding it
really was so bad it left me reducing audio volume as she spoke.
I get the aim of doing this narration approach as it supposedly allows
better distinction between the main characters by having different speakers
voice their parts but to me it undermines the series continuity of having a
single narrator in the form of Rudnicki. Also, I found that when two
narrators had to voice the same character at times that accents used were
different. Catherine Westfall for example was clearly meant to be an
Australian but one narrator made her sound more English. A middle eastern
character was made to sound somewhere between Irish and Jamaican by one
female speaker. Stefan Rudnicki is far better at multiple accents than the
other narrators featured and so should've just narrated the entire book as
he did with the prequel story, Jupiter and many others in the Bova series of
That Bova trait of getting characters so wrong occurred with the Catherine
Westfall antagonist. It surprises me that someone so fundamentally flawed
and petty could be in such a position of authority. Her motivations were
like that of a grasping child and frankly were just silly.
After reading the first book featuring Grant Archer I was expecting to see
him figure a lot more in this story but alas he was really a minor player.
This tale centers around a new group of people with Archer as station
director largely on the fringes.
I do like the way that the Deidre or "D" character came to know her new
friends along the way as she travelled to the station but I noticed what
appears to me to be an error in the writing as we hear mention of Yeager /
Max as a character in a scene where "D" is sat with Corvis before the Max
Yeager character is even introduced.
For some inexplicable reason the orbiting research station apparently is at
one-sixth Earth gravity and I'm sure it was at a full Earth gravity in the
previous story. Why a rotating station should be at much less than Earth
standard gravity seems another of those non-sensicall things Bova does at
times. No mention is made either of how a Lunar gravity that is so much
lower than Earth normal affects the dolphins which are present on that
station and recently brought there from a standard gravity environment.
As another reviewer mentioned, we don't get into the Jovian ocean until
around hour 12 of the story. I didn't find this so much of a problem myself
as the rest of the story from that point is all pretty much taking place in
the ocean with the Leviathans.
The book finally explores new aspects to the Leviathans and their
interaction with the humans trying to make contact with them. Bova has some
interesting concepts here as to how the Leviathans communicate and their
social structure and also makes the more unusual and interesting point that
an alien species may communicate and think at a vastly different speed to
ourselves which isn't often postulated in science-fiction.
Bova's depiction of the cybernetic character, Dorn, is rather dated and
crude in that he has a half metal body and thus sounds akin to the sorts of
cyborg we saw on shows like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century back in the
1980's. This is where Bova seems to lack sophistication in his vision of
technology in the future especially when you consider when the book was
For me this story wasn't as enjoyable as the first based around Jupiter and
possibly this was largely down to the multi-narrator format. However, the
way the characters were written was also the reason. In the latter stages of
the book the "D" character is heard more than once saying things like "Oh,
why does my chest hurt so much. Oh yes, it's the pressure.". This sort of
over exposition also lends an air of more pulp science fiction to Bova's
novels which is something I remarked upon in my review of "Jupiter". In
addition, the way the Corvis and "D" characters end up together just seems
so simplistic and cheesy like an old Mills & Boon story.
Not as good a read as the prequel "Jupiter" and the narration format was
something I didn't much like but the pay off to a large degree is the
contact with the Leviathans toward the end of the book. This alone went a
long way to satisfying my curiosity about these creatures which was worth the
Not one of Bova's best but worth a listen if you've read "Jupiter".
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