Bova’s impressive ten-book (so far) cycle of novels about the exploration of the solar system is known as the Grand Tour; these 12 tales are set in, and expand, that theme—well, kind of.
One yarn has crept in from another series, the Kinsman saga, but at least it’s set on the Moon. Another, a near-fatal encounter with the pirate outcast agonistes of the asteroid belt, Lars Fuchs, more properly belongs with the Sam Gunn story sequence. “Muzhestvo” began life as a story and later was incorporated into the novel Mars (1992). “Red Sky at Morning” and “Leviathan” are excerpted from Return to Mars (1999) and Jupiter (2001) respectively. “Death on Venus” strongly resembles a synoptic version of the novel Venus (2000). Redemption is the theme of most of the remainder: a drunken, aimless Navaho construction worker finds fulfillment working in space; global warming leads to the collapse of civilization on Earth; a jealous stuntman survives a trek across the hellish landscape of Venus; an embittered, crippled trapeze artiste finds new inspiration under the Moon’s low gravity; and a virtual-reality broadcast of the first Mars landing changes several lives for the better. Finally, “Sepulcher,” wherein an alien artifact exerts its remarkable effect on megalomaniac and series bad-hat Martin Humphries, is too short: look for it to become the basis for a novel in its own right.
Bova’s saga is a long, varied, and successful one, and this is a good place for newbies to start. Readers already familiar with the series, however, will find maybe half a book’s worth of fresh material.