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The Precipice by Ben Bova
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The Precipice

by Ben Bova

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507831,951 (3.36)6
Once, Dan Randolph was one of the richest men on Earth. Now the planet is spiraling into environmental disaster, with floods and earthquakes destroying the lives of millions. Randolph knows the energy and natural resources of space can save Earth's economy, but the price may be the loss of the only thing he has left--the company he founded, Astro Manufacturing. Martin Humphries, fabulously wealthy heir of the Humphries Trust, also knows that space-based industry is the way of the future. But unlike Randolph, he doesn't care if Earth perishes in the process. And he knows that the perfect bait to ensnare Dan Randolph--and take control of Astro--is his revolutionary new fusion propulsion system. As Randolph--accompanied by two fascinating women who are also brilliant astronauts--flies out to the Asteroid Belt aboard a fusion-propelled spacecraft, Humphries makes his move. The future of mankind lies in Randolph's hands. The Asteroid Wars have begun.… (more)

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Dan Randolph is a space entrepreneur and owner of the Astro Corporation in this book set in the kind-of near future. A Global Warming cliff has struck and the Earth is a mess; the future of humankind seems to be elsewhere, like the Moon, where there is a thriving colony already, which has won independence before the start of the book. Dan concocts a plan to use a new fusion technology to travel more quickly than was previously possible to the Asteroid Belt, where the resources would now finally be possible to mine with this new tech.

Meanwhile, one of Dan's partners, Martin Humphries, is really plotting for the mission to fail so he can take over Astro Corp and add it to his already-massive holdings. Dan recruits his astronauts and gets the mission off with himself on it, but runs into complications that threaten to kill the crew.

Another important plot area is the use of nanomachines to construct the ship, and the politics of use of such things, which are outlawed on Earth due to their potential danger as a weapon (and due to bureaucratic small-mindedness and religious nuttery). Finally there are the two female pilots, Pancho, a highly competent and daring flyer, and Amanda, a stunningly beautiful and accomplished pilot who seems to cause all men in her vicinity to go weak in the knees.

Amanda's character is an embarrassment. Bova is already an old man when he writes this, but the one-dimensionality of this character makes it look like it was written by a 14 year old boy. He tries to have it both ways- to make the point that she's competent and her looks get in the way of men seeing that; and yet the author never stops ogling her on the printed page.

The book is gripping over the last 150 pages as the adventure ramps up. The ending is fine, but more of a setup for future books in the series. I don't think I'll keep going. ( )
  DanTarlin | Feb 27, 2018 |
I love the Grand Tour books by Bova, and this one fits right in with the entire saga he has created. The earth has reached greenhouse hell, and Dan Randolph knows that going out into the solar system to harvest minerals for industry is the way to save the earth's economy, and perhaps the earth itself, as well as make Randolph extremely rich. Martin Humphries agrees, but is only interested in the money potential, earth status be damned. Thus begins the race to the Asteroid Belt to claim this treasure, Randolph breaking every rule he can to get there and Humphries doing everything he can to sabotage the mission out of sheer jealousy. Bova manages to write a well-paced, tense journey for these characters, and it sets up well for future volumes in the Asteroid Wars series. ( )
  utbw42 | Jan 16, 2017 |
Long range mining of the asteroid belt? What an idea. Inside fighting on a corporate board and development of an engine that cuts weeks off the flight make feasible a journey that will save Earth from massive flooding. Exciting right up to the last minute. Where's the next book in the series? ( )
  buffalogr | Jul 8, 2014 |
Thoroughly entertaining adventure story. (He tries to tackle gender & beauty issues in the interplay between a female viewpoint character and the other main female character, and it sorta works, although jeez, can the descriptions of OMG TEH HOTNESS of the secondary character. Passes the Bechtel test too, IIRC.) Looking forward to reading #2, which I suppose says something. ( )
  epersonae | Mar 30, 2013 |
ASTEROID WARS
  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Bovaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hayden, Patrick NielsenEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Irving Levitt, a rare jewel among men
To Barbara, who adorns my life with beauty
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