Guess where the action of editor/writer Bova's latest science fiction yarn (Return to Mars, 1999, etc.) takes place? Egotistical and brutal magnate Martin Humphries offers a prize of ten billion dollars to anyone who can reach the surface of Venus and recover the remains of his beloved son, Alex, who perished there two years ago during a voyage of exploration. Narrator Van, Martin's sickly, despised younger son, declares he'll make the attempt. Asteroid miner Lars Fuchs, Martin's hated and feared longtime antagonist, will also join the effort. With Martin pulling all the strings, Van is given little say in his expedition's makeup. Still, the party reaches Venus and descends into the thick, broiling atmosphere—only to discover microorganisms consuming the fabric of their ship! Fuchs, having also arrived on Venus in a vastly superior ship, attempts a rescue, but only Van and biologist Marguerite survive. Fuchs loathes Van, of course, and beats him up. But Van needs constant medication—he saved none from the wreck—or he'll die. Only Fuchs himself can provide a blood transfusion. Fuchs agrees, but then puts Van to work. The ship descends toward the hellish surface. Finally, after various adventures (mutiny, illness, murder, revenge), the seekers discover Alex's escape pod—only for their ship to be threatened by weird, metal-eating life-forms. Exciting and vividly wrought, if somewhat predictable and improbable. The coming-of-age theme, though, should find its natural YA audience.