Ben Bova: Powersat

And now for something a little more fun... Ben Bova's latest novel, Powersat, is nominally about one of our favorite subjects: solar power satellites.

In fact the novel is very interesting from an alternative energy perspective, as it relies on at least two of the three major jusitifcations for alternative energy investment. Global warming is clearly a concern - perhaps more so in the later novels to which this is a "prequel" (in one novel, the hero Dan Randolph loses the love of his life in a flash flood brought on by climate change). In this novel we find big oil and Arab terrorists conspiring to thwart Randolph's new energy scheme, while a Texas politician runs for president on a platform of energy independence, for which Randolph's solar power satellite is a key element.

Unfortunately (warning, plot spoiler ahead...) the terrorists manage to actually kill some people with Randolph's satellite - Bova has his science about right here, but his description of how the terrorists replace the main power transmitter in orbit seems a little far-fetched. Another key element in the book is the transportation question, and Bova makes some interesting points about the need for both reusability and rapid turnaround, in order to provide utility-scale power capabilities.

Anyway, a fun read, and relevant to our discussion here. A more general (no plot spoiler!) review by me was published by the Huntsville Times.

Created: 2005-02-01 05:01:00 by Arthur Smith
Modified: 2005-02-01 05:01:33 by Arthur Smith