Monday, August 9, 2010

Jovian Adventures

Now I will digress into a different type of juvenile SF.  We will leave the misfits behind for the moment.
One of the more prevalent types of juvenile SF is the young scientist.  Since a lot of youngsters that read SF either become scientists, or at least are interested in it, having them appear as heroes is a way to get them to read these books. 
There have been several successful series of such books written by non-sf writers.  Tom Swift, Jr. and the Rick Blaine novels for example.  While I read and enjoyed those books, I will be concentrating on the books by SF novelists. 
To start we have Jupiter Project by Gregory Benford.  Gregory Benford is a scientist, a physicist I believe.  He has written a fair amount of SF, and I think this is the only juvenile he wrote. 
Its pretty good.  Matt Bowles lives in The Can, an space station that orbits Jupiter at the LaGrange point of Ganymede’s orbit.  The scientists there, including Matt’s father, are trying to study Jupiter despite the intense magnetic and radiation fields that surround the planet.  And they are looking for life on Jupiter.
This is the sort of life that many a boy, like me who read this book years ago, wished he could lead.  Flying a shuttle to repair satellites, actually living in orbit around Jupiter! 
But, of course, problems ensue.  The cost of maintaining the base is high and they have been there for years and not found life.  So they are being recalled to Earth and the station will be shut down.  In rides Matt to the rescue. 
This is the sort of basic adventure story that I liked at the time, and still have some fondness for.  Sadly, with the disarray that our space program has been in since Apollo the chances of even the grandchildren of today’s teenager’s living such a life is remote. 
Unless we change the way we do things in this area it will be decades before we get to Mars, let alone Jupiter.
Remember the movie 2001?  Well, its 2010 and we aren’t even close to that kind of voyage.  It makes me very sad to see how we have botched it all after the promise of the moon landings. 
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