Another entry in Bova's series melodramatizing the near/medium-future exploration of the solar system (Powersat, 2004, etc.).
This time, various movers and shakers are drawn to the planet Mercury. Ruthless industrialist Saito Yamagata, given a second life thanks to medical nanotechnology (he died of cancer, was frozen, revived and cured), conceives a grand idea: He will send mankind to the stars. So, Yamagata hires space engineer Dante Alexios to build a fleet of power satellites in orbit about Mercury. Laser boosts from the powersats will push spaceships to the stars. But Yamagata wonders why, though they hadn’t met before, Alexios seems so familiar. Meanwhile, exobiologist Victor Molina receives an anonymous tip about some rocks found in a crater on Mercury. The rocks, Molina finds, bear traces of life! To Molina, also, Alexios seems weirdly familiar. Soon after, Molina triumphantly broadcasts his discoveries, Bishop Elliot Danvers of the reactionary New Morality arrives; his mission is to discredit Molina. It gives nothing away to mention the story’s central section—Bova makes no attempt to conceal the broad outlines of his plot—in which, ten years ago, genius engineer Mance Bracknell built a space elevator; attacked by terrorists, the structure fell to Earth, killing millions. Bracknell was blamed, thanks in part to testimony by Molina and Danvers. Yamagata’s role in the disaster was, apparently, even more direct. As a result, Bracknell was banished from Earth and lost the love of his life to Molina. No prizes for guessing who’s who, and how this all links up.
A humdrum addition to this wide-ranging but, lately, flagging series.