While I’ve enjoyed parts of Ben Bova’s Grand Tour series, I found the last entry, Uranus, to be outdated and effectively past its prime. This book, while not great, is happily better, if somewhat summary in execution.
One of Bova’s strengths is usually the relative credibility of his science and engineering. Here, it’s still fairly believable, but it also feels very rushed, as does the plot. There are loose ends (e.g., a mystery signal under the ocean of Neptune that is mentioned and then never pursued), a lack of character development (which is not a Bova strength), and a certain amount of repetition. All in all, the book felt like it was released well before it was ready. The book will be released in August 2021, and Bova died in November 2020; I’m not sure if that had something to do with it. It’s unfortunate that his last book isn’t great, but at least he didn’t go out with the very weak Uranus, and he did leave a body of genuinely strong work behind.
This book is a poor starting point for an appreciation of Bova’s writing. If you are a fan of Bova or the Grand Tour, though, it’s an okay – if by no means necessary – place to stop and see him off. And, since this was billed as a trilogy, it’s possible there’s one more book left in the pipeline. This one certainly calls for a sequel, but based on its state, I suspect any final book would be even less finished.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.