Another step in the exploration of the solar system, from the veteran writer-editor (Venus, 2000, etc.). Twenty-first–century America is run by the repressive New Morality. Young astrophysics graduate Grant Archer wants to do graduate work on the Moon, but instead the New Morality sends him to Jupiter’s orbital station Gold, where he’s expected to spy on the scientists studying Jupiter—it’s rumored that they’ve discovered intelligent life forms in the giant planet’s vast warm oceans. Such a discovery, if confirmed, would directly threaten the New Morality’s strictly biblical theology. At first, Gold’s boss, Dr. Wo, crippled during the first attempt to probe Jupiter, sets Grant to menial tasks. But slowly Grant, who has no intention of spying on anyone, becomes involved in the station’s research, contributing valuable work in fluid dynamics. And a series of accidents, or acts of sabotage—there may be secret Morality fanatics aboard the station—leaves Wo’s research team short-handed, so Grant is drafted in as a replacement. He must learn to breathe oxygenated fluid, handle implanted computer links, and survive in a ship deep in Jupiter’s ocean. As the expedition prepares to depart for Jupiter, however, a New Morality deputation approaches Jupiter, ordering the mission aborted. Wo, however, has other ideas.
Strong on technical detail, but with a so-so backdrop and uninteresting aliens; still, Bova’s fans should find it worth a try.