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The Precipice

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Ben Bova

The author of some 100 books, most of them either science fiction or science fact, six-time Hugo-winner Bova (Jupiter; Venus) is a longtime exponent of the industrialization of outer space, preferably by privately owned corporations, and here he continues … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Ben Bova
Genre: Books on Cassette, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Audio Literature
1 review about The Precipice

Human nature at its' best and worst

  • Jan 2, 2002
If there is one constant in the world, it is that all aspects of human nature will follow humans wherever they happen to go in the universe. In this book, Bova describes an Earth with two runaway conditions. The first is that the greenhouse effect has reached runaway proportions with dramatic and very deadly consequences. The second is a societal backlash among many of the people of Earth against some of the technological solutions. While humans have expanded out to establish significant colonies off Earth and these colonies can offer help, much is being refused. Some of the political blocks on Earth refuse to import energy from off planet, preferring to burn fossil fuels and pump the carbon dioxide deep into the planet. Another difficulty is a social movement called the New Morality, which maintains that many other technological solutions are against natural, moral law.
Against this backdrop, there are some people with the idealism to try to find a solution acceptable to all. That solution is to open up the asteroid belt to mining. One man forms a company and builds a ship with a fusion drive that will make it possible to exploit the resources of the asteroids. However, he must form a limited partnership with another man whose interest in gaining control and serving his own interests is matched only by his ruthlessness. We see all that is good in humans: kindness, loyalty, idealism and a can-do attitude of engineering expertise. Unfortunately, and this makes the story more entertaining, we also see disloyalty, brutal mercenary behavior, irrational anger and hatred; ruthless sexual exploitation and simple greed. To those who think that this is not possible, we only need to look back on what has occurred when new frontiers opened up on Earth. The cynics among us believe that such circumstances will be repeated when new worlds are finally opened up.
The book is more a tale of the battle among the personalities than it is a science fiction story. If you are someone that prefers a story with personal conflict with a science fiction backdrop, then you will really enjoy it. However, if you prefer more science with only a smattering of the human interaction stuff, then you most likely will find it uninteresting. I cannot say that the good guys win in the end. The best that can be said is that it is an ambiguous draw.

This review refers to the hardcover version.

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