The Precipice does two things rather well: it introduces technology that will change the Grand Tour universe and it makes me actually … kind of like Dan Randolph.
For the former, we finally have one possible solution to the fundamental problem of near future science fiction:
Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space. – Douglas Adams
In this case, if you want to have stories even on Mars, it takes months to get there. If you want to go to the Asteroids? Jupiter? It becomes impractical. There are a couple reasonable ways to solve the problem, in this case: fusion drives, small enough to drive a starship. A large chunk of The Precipice deals with building and testing this new technology which, as mentioned, has the potential to change the Grand Tour universe.
The other half of the plot is mostly corporate, with new baddie Martin Humphries trying to edge in and take over all the powerful corporations of Earth for… reasons? He’s a bit one dimensional, but that’s not terribly surprising. He makes a decent enough counterpoint to Randolph.
Speaking of which, you may recall that from the very beginning ( Powersat / Privateers ), I have not cared overmuch for Dan Randolph. His heart is often in the right place and I’ll admit that even before the Precipice, he was growing on me. But this time around… I actually find myself rooting for the man. Well done Bova. Well done. And then he has to go and die . Oy.
Once again, sexism abounds. In particular, just about every single description of Pancho and Amanda includes their description, especially to contrast them against one another. And Amanda ends up marrying a man she's never kissed in order to save herself from another man? Eesh. Par for the course at this point.
It’s a driving read though and I look forward to seeing where the Asteroid Wars go from here. Need to take a quick side trip to Jupiter first for some reason?