18 books in and Venus is the only body this side of Saturn that the Grand Tour hasn’t explored, so it seems a perfectly fitting place to end (I’ll get back to that). There’s something of a continuation of the The Asteroid Wars, with Martin Humphries and his sons as the focus of the books. One (Alex, his clone ) attempted to be the first to reach the surface of Venus and died in the attempt. The other (Van, actually not his biological son at all, but rather the son of his longtime enemy from the Asteroid Wars: Lars Fuchs (I know, right?) ) decides to take on the task of recovering his remains–a pot sweetened by ten billion dollars of his father’s money.
All that actually makes Venus somewhat interesting and unique among the Grand Tour novels. It’s not really one of the corporate war books, such as the early Moonbase books or the Asteroid Wars, but it’s also not a purely scientific exploration of Venus–although there’s plenty of that. It’s really more an an adventure novel with a sci-fi setting and backing in the hellscape that is Venus. That actually makes it a surprisingly solid book.
I’m glad that Martin Humphries wasn’t in more of the book–I really can’t stand him and I’m glad his plotline didn’t really go much of anywhere in the foreground after the Asteroid Wars–and Van’s whining feels real enough, even if he’s rather whiny for an adventure protagonist. We get a good chunk more Lars Fuchs, who has fallen far–albeit for a good reason. Always good to see.
One thing that’s always a star in Bova’s books is the idea of finding life absolutely everywhere. He’s fond of implying that whereever there’s water, there will be life… And now even that doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor. The life on Venus is pretty crazy, both in the clouds and on the surface and I wish we had a bit more time to explore that. But so it goes.
Overall, one of the better books of the Grand Tour. Which works out, since I think that I’m done with the Grand Tour for now. The remaining books leave the solar system and get even further away from the near future hard sci-fi of the rest of the Grand Tour. There were hints that we are not alone, particularly in The Aftermath and to some extent the Mars trilogy, but nothing quite so blatent.
Not something I’m looking for just yet. Perhaps one day.
Six months and 18 books later, I think it’s time to listen to something else.