by Ben Bova
Tor, $24.99, 352pp
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Jake Ross, a Doctor of astronomy at the university (I don’t remember them ever naming it), would be happy just teaching and continuing his research. However, his mentor recruits him to be the science advisor to Frank Tomlinson, an ambitious politician with his eye on the U.S. Senate. Tomlinson hopes to defeat his opponent at the polls, and Dr. Ross can find him a scientific breakthrough that can help him do just that.
The university has a team working on magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). MHD is a new innovation that will allow electricity to be generated efficiently and cheaply. If Tomlinson can deliver unlimited energy to voters, at less than half the price of nuclear power, his election is certain. But MHD is still in its infancy, and Jake’s introduction to the team includes the revelation of the explosions that forced its movement within the university. And the fact that the team greets him with all the enthusiasm of a man going to his grave makes him wonder about his future as a political advisor.
The incumbent, Senator Leeds, obviously wants to keep his seat and is prepared to fight as dirty as he has to. Dr. Ross finds that politics carry their own dangers. The dirty and extreme tactics that desperate and powerful people are willing to use is far more than Jake was expecting.
The story is great; the science is up to Bova’s best. The short chapters make this a great read for bus and/or train rides. I really enjoyed this.