The closest planet to the Sun, Mercury is an airless, heat-scorched world where temperatures rise to four times higher than the boiling point of water. But this vision of hell is also a planet with unlimited solar power - worth a fortune to the space tycoon Saito Yamagata if he can find a way to harness it. He has hired the enigmatic Dante Alexios to establish a research station on the surface of the planet and find a way to turn that solar energy into portable power satellites. But Yamagata is secretly also preparing the way to a very different dream: he wants to travel to the stars themselves. And Alexios has his own obsession, a plot to lure an old enemy to this hellhole of a world and take his revenge for one of the worst disasters in human history.
After secretly infiltrating a scientific mission on Mercury, a disgraced yet brilliant scientist exacts his revenge on those who framed him in this flawed, yet accessible and fun, hard SF novel, the latest in Bova's Grand Tour series (and the best since 2001's Jupiter). 2005 Audie Award winner Rudnicki is in top form again, handling primary narrative duties with panache-his deep, resonant voice and deliberate cadence grip listeners' attention like a vise. Rudnicki's remarkable ability to subtly modulate his voice allows him to enact male and female characters with equal proficiency, and to shift seamlessly between the various accented dialects of the multinational cast of characters. In supporting roles, Johnson is outstanding, with his skill at dramatizing dialogue being particularly noteworthy; Quirk offers competent, if at times overly-emotive, narration. The characters are the weak point of the audiobook-at times they are megalomaniacal and over-the-top-but the science fictional concepts presented here-skyhooks, solar power satellites, and the near-future exploration and colonizing of our solar system-along with Rudnicki and cast's top-notch performance, are enough to make an otherwise minor novel by the six-time Hugo Award winner into an audiobook well-worth listening to.