Read Jupiter Online

Authors: Ben Bova

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fantasy


BOOK: Jupiter
4.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

 is a new favorite destination for SF exploration, and Bova’s take on the planet is unique and enticing.”

Publishers Weekly
 on Jupiter
“With Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein gone, Bova, author of more than 70 books, is one of the last deans of traditional science fiction. And he hasn’t lost his touch.”

Kansas City Star
 on Venus
“[Bova’s] excellence at combining hard science with believable characters and an attention-grabbing plot makes him one of the genre’s most accessible and entertaining storytellers.”

Library Journal
“Bova manages to bring the planet alive as a force of nature indifferent to the struggles, hopes, or presence of the humans who are attempting to make the first successful landing on her surface.”

 on Venus
The Aftermath
As on a Darkling Plain
The Astral Mirror
Battle Station
The Best of the Nebulas
City of Darkness
Empire Builders
Escape Plus
The Green Trap
Gremlins Go Home
(with Gordon R. Dickson)
The Kinsman Saga
The Multiple Man
Orion Among the Stars
Orion and the Conqueror
Orion in the Dying Time
Out of the Sun
The Peacekeepers
The Precipice
The Prometheans
The Rock Rats
The Sam Gunn Omnibus
The Silent War
Star Peace: Assured Survival
The Starcrossed
Tales of the Grand Tour
Test of Fire
To Fear the Light
 (with A. J. Austin)
To Save the Sun
 (with A. J. Austin)
The Trikon Deception
 (with Bill Pogue)
Vengeance of Orion
Voyagers II: The Alien Within
Voyagers III: Star Brothers
The Winds of Altair
The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.
Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at:
NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2001 by Ben Bova
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
 is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
ISBN-13: 978-0-812-57941-3
ISBN-10: 0-812-57941-0
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00-048021
First Edition: January 2001
First Mass Market Edition: February 2002
Printed in the United States of America
0  9  8  7  6  5
To Danny and T.J., my favorite “Jovians.”
To Thomas Gold, who would rather be wrong than dull.
And to Barbara, always and forever
My thanks to Mark Chartrand, George W. Ferguson, and Frederic B. Jueneman, who offered invaluable advice and assistance in writing this novel. The technical accuracy of this story is due in large part to their generous assistance; any inaccuracies stem from my stretching the known facts.
Details of the life of Zheng He and the Ming Empire’s “treasure fleet” can be found in Louise Levathe’s fine book, 
When China Ruled the Seas
, published in 1994 by Simon & Schuster.
The rash assertion that “God made man in His own image” is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths.
—Arthur C. Clarke
Prologue: Orbital Station

It took six of them to drown him.

Reluctantly, grudgingly, Grant Archer had stripped himself naked, as they had ordered him to do. But once they pushed him to the edge of the big tank he knew he would not go into it without a fight.

The augmented gorilla grabbed Grant's right arm; she was careful not to snap his bones but her powerful grip was painful all the same. Two of the human guards held his left arm while a third grasped him around the middle and still another lifted his bare feet off the deck so he couldn't get any leverage for his wild-eyed struggles.

All this in nearly total silence. Grant didn't scream or roar at them, he didn't plead or curse. The only sounds were the scuffing of the guards' boots on the cold metal deck plates, the hard gasps of their labored breathing, and Grant's own panicked, desperate panting.

The guard captain grimly, efficiently, grasped Grant's depilated head in his big meaty hands and pushed his face into the tank of thick, oily liquid.

Grant squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath until his chest felt as if it would burst. He was burning inside, suffocating, drowning. The pain was unbearable. He couldn't breathe. He dared not breathe. No matter what they had told him, he knew down at the deepest level of his being that this was going to kill him.

No air! Can't breathe!

Reflex overpowered his mind. Despite himself, despite his terror, he sucked in a breath. And gagged. He tried to scream, to cry out, to beg for help or mercy. His lungs filled with the icy liquid. His whole body spasmed, shuddered with the last hope of life as they pushed his naked body all the way into the tank with a final pitiless shove and he sank down, deeper and deeper.

He opened his eyes. There were lights down there. He was breathing! Coughing, choking, his body racked with uncontrollable spasms. But he was breathing. The liquid filled his lungs and he could breathe it. Just like regular air, they had told him. A lie, a vicious lie. It was cold and thick, utterly foreign, alien, slimy and horrible.

But he could breathe.

He sank toward the lights. Blinking, squinting in their glare, he saw that there were other naked, hairless bodies down there waiting for him.

'Welcome to the team,' a sarcastic voice boomed in his ears, deep, slow, reverberating.

Another voice, not as loud but even more
basso profundo
, said, 'Okay, let's get him prepped him for the surgery.'


My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.


Chapter 1 - Grant Armstrong Archer III

Despite being born into one of the oldest families in Oregon, Grant Archer grew up in an environment that was far from affluent. His earliest memories were of watching his mother rummaging through piles of hand-me-down clothes at the Good Will shop, looking for sweaters and gym shoes that weren't too shabby to wear to school.

His father was a Methodist minister in the little suburb of Salem where Grant grew up, respected as a man of the cloth but not taken too seriously in the community because he was, in the words of one of the golf club widows, 'churchmouse poor.'

Poor as far as money was concerned, but Grant's mother always told him that he was rich in the gift of intelligence. It was his mother, who worked in one of the multifarious offices of the New Morality in the state capital, who encouraged Grant's interest in science.

Most of the New Morality officials were suspicious of science and scientists, deeply worried about these 'humanists' who so often contradicted the clear word of Scripture. Even Grant's father urged his son to steer clear of biology and any other scientific specialty that would bring the frowning scrutiny of New Morality investigators upon them.

For Grant, there was no problem. Since he'd been old enough to look into the night sky with awe and wonder, he'd wanted to be an astronomer. In high school, where he was by far the brightest student in his class, he narrowed his interest to the astrophysics of black holes. Although Grant thrilled to the discoveries on Mars and out among the distant moons of Jupiter, it was the death throes of giant stars that truly fascinated him. If he could learn how collapsed stars •warped spacetime, he might one day discover a way for humans to use such warps for interstellar journeys.

He longed to work at the Farside Observatory on the Moon, studying collapsed stars far out in the cold and dark of deep interstellar space. Yet Grant had been warned that even at Farside there were tensions and outright dangers. Despite all the strictures of the New Morality and the stern rules laid down by the observatory's directors, some astronomers still tried to sneak time on the big telescopes to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. When such prohibited activities were discovered those responsible were inevitably sent back to Earth in disgrace, their careers blighted.

That did not bother Grant, however. He intended to keep his nose clean, to avoid antagonizing the ever-present agents of the New Morality, and to study the enigmatic and entirely safe black holes. He was careful never to use the dreaded word 'evolution' when speaking about the life cycles of stars and their final collapse into black holes. 'Evolution' was a dangerous word among the New Morality eavesdroppers.

By the time he was finishing high school, he had grown into a quiet, square-shouldered young man with a thick thatch of sandy-blond hair that often tumbled over his light brown eyes. He was good-natured and polite; the high-school girls considered him a 'delta' in their merciless rating system: okay as a friend, especially when it came to help with school work, but too dull to date except in an emergency. A shade under six feet tall and whipcord lean, Grant played on the school's baseball and track teams, no outstanding star but the kind of reliable performer that made his coaches sleep better at night.

BOOK: Jupiter
4.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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