Have you ever come across a book series that is so daunting you don’t even know where to start? (I’ll actually get to that part later.) Well, let me introduce you to Ben Bova’s The Grand Tour. Starting in the not-so-distant future on our little rock known as Earth and ending over 3,000 years in the future thousands of light-years away, this science-fiction marathon shows a possible future for the human race. Did I mention this series was…long? 24 books, over 10,000 pages, and it’s not completed yet. Ben Bova, a six time Hugo Award winner, is continuing to publish books that fit within The Grand Tour (the most recent being Survival, published Dec. 2017).
If you’re a fan of science fiction, you’ve probably heard of Ben Bova. You’ve probably even read a few of Bova’s novels (he’s written over 120 in all). In the early 2000s, I found a copy of Jupiter (shout out to my mom for loving Sci-Fi more than I do). This is how I was introduced to The Grand Tour. Jump forward a few years, and I’m looking for way to impress a certain book-obsessed blogger. What better way to impress someone like that, than “Oh, I’m reading a series with like 25 books in it. What are you up to?”?
For those that have not read any Bova novels, let me say, he does what he does wonderfully. Although this was a science-fiction series, nothing jumped out at me as “not possible”. I find this extremely important in judging science fiction. Is technology used as a Deus ex Machina for writers to get out of a corner, or are technological boundaries ever so gently pushed to bring you into a futuristic world? Ben Bova rides the thin line like the expert writer he is.
The Grand Tour, being the behemoth that it is, has a little bit of everything: politics, geopolitics, interstellarpolitics, religion, governmental regulation, corporate espionage, and love and hate. (If you’re not a fan of writers injecting their politics into their work, this might not be the guy for you.) And a healthy, healthy dose of science fiction. The basic premise of the series involves the exploration and colonization of the solar system by humans starting in the late 21st century. Why this expansion is required, what humanity finds when they do so, and what repercussions arise from humanity’s permanent departure from Earth are all core focuses of this series.
With that all said, this is not a perfect series. There are lulls when I wondered why I started this trek. Some novels focused on arcs that, frankly, I did not find entertaining. However, as a whole, it was an amazing experience. Since it took me north of a year to finish, I would say that’s a win. My favorite novels took place around Jupiter (Jupiter and Leviathans of Jupiter). I recommend starting with these two. If they’re to your liking, take the plunge! As I said, Bova is continuing to write novels for this series, and Leviathans of Jupiter seems to be written with a sequel in mind (Hey Ben, finish my Jupiter Trilogy!).
Reading Note: There is actual debate on in what order you should read these books. Ben Bova, himself, has even weighed in on the topic. With all due respect, I read this series in the order recommended by those fanatics that argue with writers about their own books:
TL/DR: If you want a science-fiction series, written by a veteran science fiction writer that covers the spectrum of topics, read The Grand Tour. If you’ve got a year to kill, you won’t be disappointed. Also, pick up a local library card before you start. Your wallet, and that local library, will thank you.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
The way to Alexandra's heart is through a great book recommendation.