Earth groans under the thumb of fundamentalist political regimes. Crisis after crisis has given authoritarians the upper hand. Freedom and opportunity exist in space, for those with the nerve and skill to take it. Now the governments of Earth are encouraging many of their most incorrigible dissidents to join a great ark, a one-way expedition to Saturn, the ringed planet that baffled Galileo and has fascinated astronomers ever since.
But humans will be human, so amidst the idealism permeating Space Habitat Goddard are many individuals with long-term schemes, each awaiting their moment. And hidden from them is the greatest secret of all, the real purpose of this expedition, known to only a few.
©2003 Ben Bova; (P)2003 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"Now that Arthur C. Clarke has retired and Charles Sheffield has departed, Bova is definitely the man to do justice to the astronomical marvels of the Saturnian system with its enormous potential as a second home for humanity, especially in the complex environments of its moons. Loud, prolonged applause, then, for the strengths of this book." (Booklist)
Saturn is a good follow-on to Jupiter. It seems unlikely that nuts would ever be in charge of Earth as Bova proposes, but at least they provide a good plot device for our explorers to leave for Saturn and for the later conflicts on the way. Having read Jupiter and Venus, I think I enjoy Bova's stories in the audio form a little better. I wish the whole collection were available on Audible.
This book could be classified as political SF if there was such a catagory. The science is almost a sideline and is always viewed through political eyes. Saying that the characters are 3 diminsional and totally believable. The action is well drawn out. The narration was excellent. A good read.
I admit I listened to the books out of order, Skipping Saturn to listen to Titan first, primarily because of customer reviews.
But after listening to some references made to "Saturn" in "Titan" I HAD to listen to Saturn, and I'm glad I did...
No, It's not as good Titan, but still it's well worth the listen if you like Bova.. and I'd recommend listening to Saturn before listening to Titan since it DOES fill in some gaps later in Titan.
Both are very good stand alone books, but they also SHOULD go hand in hand. I'm VERY glad I backed up and listened to Saturn.
I like the way the Narration is done in this series of books, it seems to bring the characters to life more, and you don't get bored by the same reader after a few hours. The continuously shifting narrators actually keeps your mind from wandering while listening to ANY of Bova's Books.
Normally one reviews the content here, but this time I must talk about the performers reading this book. There was one woman with such an angry, nasally voice, that it totally detracted from the story. I would literally cringe when she came on. The book itself was not too spectacular, but it could of fared three stars with better readers.
I enjoyed most of Bova's earlier works; Mars, Jupiter, etc... However this book failed to thrill or intrigue in any way his older works did. I found the first two-thirds of the book extremely boring and long winded, and most of what is explored is completely unimportant to the plot and doesn't expand on the shallow one dimensional characters. It all just felt like filler until the story resolves. It would have been bad enough to sit through the first two-thirds of this book if there had been some kind of pay off but it all resolves pretty much as expected and really without much tension.
A huge problem that is not the fault of Mr. Bova is the extremely poor reading by the female narrator throughout the majority of her work. I can't recall exactly what chapter it occurred in but at one point it sounded like she was having a real bad day and decided to take it out on the character she was narrating and make her a complete bitch. The bile in the narrators voice taints the character to a degree that you are removed from the telling. I don't know maybe the narrator found the book as dull as I did, or maybe the recording engineer really pissed her off that day. This is the worst reading I have yet experienced in an audio book.
I find myself wondering if the earlier books I enjoyed were actually as entertaining as I remembered or if simply I was younger and have grown out of appreciation for Mr. Bova's work. The poor work of some of the narration certainly didn't help but I don't believe it ruined the entire experience on it's own. I'll try to give him another chance on his next work, but I don't find myself looking forward to the experience.
I loved Bova's Mars, Jupiter and Moon stories, but my last two reads of his Mercury and Saturn have been disappointing. I think many of us sci-fi readers like to have an author take us to exotic places and describe the realities of that experience in a way that tickles our imagination, and makes us wonder what could be. In Saturn, Bova has an incredible opportunity to describe the wonders of what living in a "ring-world" would be like. Imagine looking UP to see the shopping mall you are about to walk/ride to! Instead we get to hear about the EXACT same irritating political biquering and conniving that we get inundated with from local news and newspapers here on Earth on a daily basis! That wouldn't be SO bad if the characters were interesting, but they're not. They're just annoying, single-track minded people. We'd think that those chosen to make a voyage to Saturn and live in this wondrous ring-world would be full of excitement and pride... instead Bova paints most of the ~10,000 passengers as disgruntled, annoyed, conscripts. WAY too much politics and not near enough "science" or wonder. I gave up on it after finishing only the first half.
If I could, I would give this book 2.5 stars because it did entertain me on my lengthy commute to work. I downloaded the book(my first Bova novel) because I remember being thrilled by his short stories 20 years ago. I cannot reccommend this book however because the characterizations are so poor, there is little science in it and its premise though initially promising, ends up being absurd. I like classic science fiction and had hoped this would be a good example (arther c clarke, Asimov). It wasn't. I work in a field dominated by scientists and engineers and while I find that these people often think far outside the box, operative word here is "think", the people I know are fairly equally divided between the religious and the agnostic. They do seem united in that they feel little threatened by either position. Bova must harbor some real enmity toward those who take their religion seriously since he ascribed the most horrible crimes and characteristics to them. I thought this very unrealistic. How interesting it would have been if he had explored the more plausible negative effects of a narrow minded but well meaning and , come on, fairly virtuous body of people in a leadership position. Mr. Bova needs a better ghost writer or why not just let go of some of that anger.
Sorry Ben, I really liked "Mars" but Saturn has more plot holes than a warehouse full of swiss cheese. I'm not sure if it was the characters or the characterizations but I didn't encounter a single redeemable character. The "grand experiment" worked perfectly except for nine of the most highly sterotypical characters I've ever read and 9,991 virtually invisible others. Where was everyone else while the bad guys were acting so stupid?
HUGE opportunities missed for wonder, adventure, and mystery, All we got was some petty, small minded meglomaniacs trying to out do each other in what could have been one of the most remarkable science fiction stories. I'll encourage you to listen and make up your own mind, but for me I won't be so quick to grab another Bova.
Having read most of Bova's books over the last 30 years I bought this one expecting something similar to what I'd read in the past. Unfortunately, 3/4's of the way through the book I finally gotten sick of listening to this dramatised version. The female voices remind me of a romance novel written for 12 year olds and the male voices have little more going for them. If you are a fan of Bova, then buy the hard copy and read it, but I doubt if it'll be much better than this audio-drama, there's no tension in the book and the scenes were mundane to the point that they could have been taking place on the Queen Mary rather than a space habitate.
Sorry Ben, I tried.
Ben Bova has great talent. Unfortunately, it is all too often submerged beneath a plot rife with political bickering. Not that Bova doesn't have a point (that our near-sighted (or totally blind) politicians are stifling the expansion of man into space), but he shouldn't hit us over the head with it in nearly every book. There is enough SF here to keep the book interesting, but you'll have to wade through some muck to get to it.
"The New World"
The story starts slowly and it took me a while to get into it. It's a strange story in that the set up for the adventure seems unlikely to me.
It's about a large group of people who are thrown together for the first human journey out to Saturn. Their backgrounds seem odd to me for such a 'ground breaking' scientific expedition. However, it's difficult to judge how society would respond after the Greenhouse Cliff and with the New Morality involved. Parts of the story were driven by the luck the characters had, especially towards the end. I like Ben Bova's stories and this one is OK, but to me it's not one of his best.
If you like Science Fiction this book is fine and I'd certainly recommend you read / listen to the book, but it's not the greatest.
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