Thursday, August 2, 2012

Power Play by Ben Bova ****

Power Play by Ben Bova is a near-future Science Fiction thriller - think of it as a cross between James Paterson and Michael Crichton. This novel of politics and corruption moves quickly as Dr Jake Ross, a junior, nontenured member of the Astronomy faculty at a public University, gets drawn into a world of political sex and violence. However, as with most hybrid forms, it has something to disappoint everyone.

Most Science Fiction readers will be familiar with Ben Bova - winner of six Hugo awards as editor of  Analog Science Fiction and writer a hard science fiction. However, these readers will be disappointed as Power Play is light on science. After imagining MHD (magnetohydrodynamics) as a practical power generation process, there is little more for SF readers, unless you count the ancient SF trope of women as eye candy and casual sex partners. This is certainly not a plus.

On the other hand, a reader coming to Power Play looking from a thriller will be disappointed. In spite of three murders and a kidnapping, no one the reader cares about is ever in jeopardy, so the tension isn't there. For example, consider Monster, a mob enforcer. In spite of being billing as someone who breaks legs, he is also an elementary school buddy of our hapless protagonist Jake Ross - so not much of a threat

So not a thriller, and not Science Fiction, ... maybe a mystery. Maybe ... if you don't bring genre expectations, Power Play is a pleasant light read with a little something for everyone.

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