If there is one thing that I have come to expect of Ben Bova it is that he can take any fantastically unbelievable idea and make it so real that you actually think that it could happen. This is the case with Venus.
Van Humphries is the last living son of Martin Humphries, having outlived his brother who died a few years before on a trek to the venusian surface to try to discover how a runaway greenhouse could explain the sudden warming on Earth. But his father hates him beyond reason. He’s the runt in the family with a terrible anemia that he has to take medicine for to keep in check. Then comes his father’s award–a billion dollars to anyone who can bring back the remains of his beloved son. To make matters more interesting, Martin Humphries has cut off all of Van’s funding and in desperation Van signs up to win that billion dollars. But Van isn’t the only one that wants the prize…
Enter Fuchs, an asteroid belt entrepreneur who lost everything he owned because of Martin Humphries, including his wife. Claiming a billion dollars could right his life and give him the vengeance he has always wanted.The story is riveting to say the least. I think this book is possibly better than Mars, but it’s such a close match I find it hard to make the decision. Everything from the way Bova designs the ships that take them to Venus and ultimately the ships that get them to the surface to his description of Venus in such a realistic manner made this book one of the best reads I’ve had in a while. I don’t want to give anything away, but the way he describes Venus’ clouds, surface, winds, etc. really give you the image of how dangerous this planet is.
Venus is written in first person and I found that in this case it worked perfectly. I’ve known a few instances when I hated first person, but again, the same as with Old Man’s War, it worked very well here. Bova’s style is not profound in any sense of the word, and he likely won’t be winning any ‘best writer ever’ awards, but he has such a way to tell a scifi story to make you really believe in what is going on. There is little that I had to dispel belief for. This is something I’ve come to know Bova for–realism. There are a lot of twists and turns that you don’t expect too, and I won’t give any of them away simply because that would ruin the book.
Pick this book up. You can probably find it online for cheap–it’s been out for a while. It is a fascinating read.