Review: “Voyagers” by Ben Bova

Keith Stoner is caught in a web of intrigue and deception. A former NASA astronaut, Stoner helped design and build the “Big Eye,” Ben Bova’s vision of the yet-to-be Hubble Space Telescope. When extra-terrestrial signals are detected from Jupiter, Stoner is recruited because of his ties with NASA. He obtains photographs of Jupiter and discovers what appears to be an alien spacecraft orbiting the gas giant.

“Voyagers” crackles with personal and political drama as scientists from around the globe come together to decipher the mysterious radio transmission. Written in 1981, a decade prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, the story is filled with cold war tension and hot sexual passion. The plot unfolds beneath the leaden skies of Moscow and New England, on the beaches of a tropical island in the South Pacific and far above the Earth in the cold emptiness of space.

Ben Bova takes his time developing the narrative, weaving together the lives and ambitions of many disparate characters. Keith Stoner is a scientist who is obsessed with scientific discovery. Jo Camerata is a beautiful grad student who will do anything to save him. Caught in a faltering marriage, a Russian linguist and his wife must face their mutually inflicted wounds. A British double agent who is shattered by past imprisonment and torture, must decide where his loyalties belong. Bova creates believable, textured characters who reach out of the narrative. They invite us into a world where national distrust and insatiable egos threaten to derail the greatest discovery in history. The alien spacecraft’s mysterious appearance puts these characters on a collision course in a masterful literary tapestry, surrounding the reader with a highly enjoyable tale.

The first novel in an epic series, “Voyagers” raises a timeless question. How will we navigate the historical discontinuity when we encounter intelligent life from beyond our world? When the stakes are high and established beliefs are shattered, will the human race be at its best or worst? Ben Bova offers a sobering and realistic glance at one possible response to such an encounter, encouraging us to exchange our pettiness for nobility and our fears for a glimpse into the unknown.

Ben Bova delights the reader with a story that twists and turns its way toward a remarkable final act. Be sure to buy the second book in the series, “The Alien Within,” before reading this novel. The stunning conclusion of “Voyagers” will leave you breathless and wanting more.

Moore later…

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