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REVIEW: Powersat by Ben Bova

REVIEW SUMMARY: Sci-fi master Ben Bova delivers a surprisingly topical thriller including modern terrorism, politics and a bit of science fiction.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dan Randolph has a dream of solar energy powering our cities. But rather than use solar cells here on Earth, he sees satellites in space using microwaves to beam the energy back to the ground. But he isn’t the only one who has a use for satellite that can generate high-energy microwaves focused on the ground.


PROS: Excellent plot, fun read, great writing style

CONS: Most Characters are one-dimensional (except for Dan and his love interest)

BOTTOM LINE: Bova is a fantastic writer and he doesn’t disappoint here. More techno-thriller than pure science fiction, the book is solid and a lot of fun to read.

Dan Randolph decides as a young university student that solar energy will be the answer to all our energy needs. But he doesn’t want to utilize the inefficient terrestrial solar cells, but instead has a dream of using satellites in orbit to beam energy directly back to Earth. That dream is shattered when his reusable spaceplane comes apart during its first test flight. But when the investigation points to sabotage as the cause things start to unravel in a tangle of politics, corporate espionage, and murder.

This book reminds me of something authored by Larry Bond or Tom Clancy. It lacks maybe the real world technical detail that these authors would include, but its otherwise very similar. If I had a complaint it is that the book is a little shallow. The villain isn’t as fleshed out as I would like and overall most of the characters aren’t very deep. Dan and a couple of his lady friends end up slightly more fleshed out, but the plot is the driving force in this book. The good news there is the action is solid and the overall style of the book is great.

2 Comments on REVIEW: Powersat by Ben Bova

  1. Was about to publish a review of this too. There are only a few thousand known orbiting bodies in the solar system so sooner or later Ben Bova will run out of titles for his main sequence of novels – so it’s good to see him trying something different in this nearer-future setting. I enjoyed this novel although would broadly agree about characterization – Dan Randolph feels very real (if similar to some of the Solar System series protagonists in his driven nature) but other characters vary from OK to heavily stereotyped, and there’s the usual Bova conflict between describing strong female characters and love interests.

  2. Bova can always do more than one book per setting. Mars has gotten three, the Moon two. The asteroids had three? four? There are more moons of Jupiter and Saturn (and Uranus and Neptune) than you can shake a stick at, some of these are quite respectable in size.

    The solar system won’t be conquered in one day (or eight/nine books)!

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