Tor, Apr 2002, 24.95, 384 pp.
Humanity's only hope for survival remains with the ore rich Asteroid Belt. However, the rivalry for control of the vast richness continues between Martin Humphries and Lars Fuchs. Martin wants to exploit the mineral wealth as a means to make him dictator of the solar system. On the other hand, Lars feels that there is room for everyone to benefit and welcomes competition including from the independent ROCK RATS, miners like him living and working amidst the asteroid orbs. However, the antagonism between Lars and Martin has turned even more personal and ugly as the former has married Amanda Cunningham, a woman that the latter obsesses to make as one of his more precious possessions.
Lars sells supplies to THE ROCK RATS, but Martin destroys his competitor's warehouse, kills innocent rock rats, and steals their find. He also tries to murder Lars. A desperate Lars counters Martin's assault by attacking his malevolent opponent's ships and bases. Though distant from earth, mankind's latest economic battle is turning deadly with war seemingly inevitable.
THE ROCK RATS, book two of the Asteroid Wars, shows why Ben Bova is one of science fiction's all time greats, as he delivers an exhilarating tale that will please his fans and those readers who relish outer space stories. The story line is fast-paced, loaded with action, and makes life on Ceres and elsewhere in the Asteroid Belt feel authentic in an everyday sense. Though Martin appears a bit extreme as a maniacal industrialist, he and the other key cast members remain as strong as they did in the entertaining first novel, THE PRECIPICE. Readers will enjoy this outer space adventure.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner