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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Powersat (The Grand Tour, #1)Powersat by Ben Bova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this is a very solid, average, old-school SF novel.

It's focused on current events (circa 2005) surrounding energy dependence issues, political realities, and a nice, if almost cartoonish, technothriller cherry on top.

When I say it's average, I need to clarify it some. It's not an average *our* modern SF novel. It actually relies very heavily on real science, real political necessities, and the grand possibilities of building a solar satellite that beams diffuse energy down to the earth for collection in great capacitors. I very much appreciate the problems associated with the privatization of space travel, a-la Musk, and think it is very worth reading.

The subject matter is appealing, timely, and certainly not wildly fantastical. Bova is pretty great for real science.

A potential problem lies in its fairly accurate portrayal of a less egregious '70s male-centric scientist-entrepreneur saves the world plot. I say less egregious because the male lead, while being prototypically male, isn't exactly doing anything WRONG, but it certainly portrays women in the old light. Not that any of them were complaining, mind you. Please follow my line of thought: the novel harms no-one from a social point of view, but it is NOT the current, common, point of view that everyone seems to be judging else by, today.

Just because he's a male lead, he's suspect by today's standards. If he treats women sometimes as many women used to like to be treated, and often still do, IE., admiring them, being oblivious to signs, being victims of self-centeredness, or being, well... MALE... a lot of people seem to have a PROBLEM with that these days.

Me? Reading this, having grown up with MANY books that more or less have this same feel in the SF shelves, I would have just shrugged and focused on the ideas and the plot. But modern SF and Fantasy have swung to the far OTHER end of this spectrum these days. All the modern books I read now have female-centric leads or LGBTQ focuses. So much so that I now find myself wondering where all these old male-centric novels went. Are they all dead? Have they been nixed, as a whole? Are there no longer any male-led stories? I mean, honestly, I'd prefer a healthy mix of BOTH primary sexes and a truly representative mix of everything else. You know. To represent reality.

But in this case, reading Bova now? I feel like I just read a delightful, if slightly average, panacea. Nothing revolutionary. Just a breath of fresh scientific air without a modern Mary Sue.

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