Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Terraforming Ganymede with Robert A. Heinlein - Gregory Benford

"upiter Project explores the social pressures on a small crew of scientists studying the Jovian system from a lab orbiting near Ganymede. Despite the potential for new discoveries, they face the stubbornly nagging question of whether space and exobiological research will ever have any relevance to the people back on Earth who fund such ventures. As the story begins, the station is about to be closed down, and the protagonist, seventeen year-old Matt Bohles, isn’t happy. Life onboard the aging cylinder space station is cramped, Spartan and dangerous, but "The Can" is home. To forestall being shipped back to a filthy, perilous and unfamiliar hell called Earth, he steals a small ship and sets out to discover Jovian life. Instead, he uncovers an even more important find. There the novel ends.

But that was just the plot setup. The real pleasure I had in writing The Jupiter Project lay in two learning curves. First, by copying Heinlein’s approaches, I learned much about writing. Dialog, character development, pacing, attention to authenticating detail in all the senses–Heinlein could imply an entire society, filled with taken-for-granted technological wonders far beyond his time, in a single throwaway sentence. (The classic example is “The door dilated.”) Next, I discovered a core truth of hard SF: dealing with reality, and then taking it a step further–in this case, imagining how to terraform Ganymede–is FUN. It’s playing tennis with the net firmly up."

4 out of 5