Book Review: Leviathans of Jupiter
Reviewed by: Marianne Dyson
Title: Leviathans of Jupiter
Author: Ben Bova
Date: February 2011
Retail Price: $24.99
Even on long voyages between worlds and on isolated scientific stations in deep space, humans can't escape the reach of politics and power. In Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova, young microbiologist Deidre Ambrose travels from her home in the asteroid belt to Jupiter to take advantage of an opportunity that will provide her a scholarship to study on Earth afterwards.
Unfortunately, she becomes a pawn in a political game being played by a power-hungry heiress who plans the downfall of her perceived rival, the director of the Jupiter station who hired Deidre.
The director, Grant Archer (from Bova's book, Jupiter) longs to prove that the leviathans, giant creatures discovered living deep in Jupiter's atmosphere, are intelligent. To do this, he plans to send humans on a dangerous mission to study, and possibly make first contact, with the leviathans. The crew includes Deidre and Dorn, a cyborg from one of Bova's earlier novels. The heiress places everyone in danger with her attempts to stop the mission.
The descriptions of life in the atmosphere of Jupiter are superbly creative and showcase the imaginative talents of the author. The technical details of the ship and station added immensely to the story — almost becoming characters in their own right.
Space enthusiasts will especially enjoy being immersed in water with dolphins being used in a test of a new communication system, in perfluorocarbon to withstand the high pressure inside the ship, and then deep in Jupiter's mostly hydrogen atmosphere where the leviathans live. Experiencing these new worlds without the actual danger of going there is one of the true joys of a good science fiction read.
The only thing that somewhat spoiled my reading experience was the use of viewpoint shift to explain what was going on in an almost omniscient way instead of allowing me to figure things out with only the information available to the main characters. However, the story proceeded in a logical fashion and came to a satisfying conclusion.
Leviathans of Jupiter is the 18th book in Bova's Grand Tour series and well worth reading. The book provides a great escape into a future where humans continue to find ingenious ways to survive in strange and challenging environments, even while enduring the seemingly unavoidable politics involved in all human endeavors.
© 2011 Marianne Dyson