©2002 Ben Bova; (P)2002, 2005 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
"Bova in top form." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Hard-charging....Ambitiously juggling elements of space opera, western, and Sophoclean drama, Bova keeps the pages turning." (Publishers Weekly)
Where book one of this series (The Precipice)is a fairly entertaining space opera, The Rock Rats get uncomfortably close to soap opera. I generally prefer hard science fiction where the technology is a logical or at least a plausible extrapolation of current knowledge. On this, Ben Bova generally succeeds, but instead of allowing the science to create most of the dramatic tension, the author relies on the hormonal response of the supposedly hard-headed businessman Humphries to fuel the conflict. Pretty silly really.
There are lots of interesting and unique problems that would be faced by anyone attempting to open up a new frontier such as the asteroid belt. A great example is the rudimentary beginnings of space battle techniques and tactics briefly touched on by the author. Instead, too much of the book is "powerful man wants beautiful woman and is willing to do anything to get her". You don't need science fiction for that theme.
Even so, the book isn't terrible - merely average and a disappointment compared to the first book in the series. Still worth reading though just to see how things turn out. I do hope there is more about Pancho Barnes in the third book. She was a far more interesting character.
One additional note: the voice talent is a bit disappointing as well. At least part of the appeal of book one was the fact that 80-90% of the book was read by Scott Brick and Amanda Karr - both absolutely superb. But even the first book had some short segments with different readers so noticeably inferior that is was disconcerting.
Here the female reader(s)is again outstanding. I can't even tell if there is more than one reader or if Amanda Karr is just so good that she can sound like several different people. Unfortunately, the men (except for Stefan Rudnicki) suffer by comparison. Barely average. I could get used to them, but every time the narration switches back to a female, you get reminded of the mediocrity of most of the male readers.
Having listened to almost a number of the Bova books and read the hardcopies, this is the worst narration of them all. They changed Amanda's voice and totally misrepresented her character. She is a whinny little girl now. Not the self made strong woman in the book.
I enjoyed this latest audiobook in my collection. I have enjoyed all of Bova's creations. He takes you on a grand tour of the solar system with his books. Go ahead and take the tour, you will be gald you did!!
A bit slower than the first book in the series, and not as good as the third, but Bova seems to be drawing a breath, and taking a bit of time to let Poncho, the other characters, and the environment, "mature" a bit before going on. You see why he needed to do this as you get into the next book.
It's still WELL worth listening to as you move along the series. Still entertaining and fun (and "entertainment" is what's it's all about afterall)
I DID think there seemed to be a book missing between this book and the next (The Silent War), but it's not TOO big of a gap.
I recently heard my first Ben Bova book, The Precipice (Asteroid Wars, Book 1) and was very impressed. I downloaded ,Book 2&3(Rock Rats and Silent War)right away,hoping for more of the same. Character development of Fuchs & Amanda went 180 degrees from book 1, and not for the better. Pancho who was the most interesting from book 1, was barely a supporting character.Fuchs' monotone ranting and Humphrey's deviate behaviour were annoying at best. Lots of descriptive repetition here. The entire trilogy could have been done in one complete book. Would have made the unrealistic plot lines more bearable.I liked the concept of commercializing the space,descriptions of the various technology, creation of new governments, etc., but the character development was very amateur. Sorry Mr. Bova, but my space travel with you ends here.
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