Once, Dan Randolph was one of the richest men on Earth. Now the planet is spiralling into environmental disaster, with floods and earthquakes destroying the lives of millions. Randolph knows the energy and natural resources of space can save Earth’s economy, but the price may be the loss of the only thing he has left - the company he founded, Astro Manufacturing. Martin Humphries, fabulously wealthy heir of the Humphries Trust, also knows that space-based industry is the way of the future. But unlike Randolph he does not care if Earth perishes in the process. And he knows that the perfect bait to ensnare Dan Randolph and take control of Astro is his revolutionary new fusion rocket propulsion system. As Randolph - accompanied by two beautiful women who are also brilliant astronauts - flies out to the Asteroid Belt aboard a fusion-propelled spacecraft , Humphries makes his move. The future of mankind lies in Randolph’s hands.
The author of some 100 books, most of them either science fiction or science fact, six-time Hugo-winner Bova (Jupiter; Venus) is a longtime exponent of the industrialization of outer space, preferably by privately owned corporations, and here he continues in this vein. Earth is on the brink of disaster; in fact, it may have already toppled over the precipice. As a result of the greenhouse effect, the oceans have risen catastrophically and half of humanity faces immediate starvation. Two very rich industrialists, Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries, believe that they may have the key to the planet's salvation. Using new innovations in fusion and nanotechnology, they want to send an experimental spaceship to the asteroid belt. The goal is to bring back enough raw materials to begin to move Earth's heavy industries into outer space, thus greatly reducing pollution and providing enough capital to transform the world. Randolph, despite his many years as a captain of industry, is still something of a starry-eyed optimist who truly wishes to save the planet. Humphries, however, is made of much more selfish stuff; his primary goals are to destroy Randolph and save only as much of Earth's civilization as he personally can rule. Bova has been writing variations on this novel for decades, and he knows his material well. Unfortunately, his work is often marred by a plodding prose style, somewhat stereotypical characters and deeply ingrained sexism. Still, this novel should appeal to Bova's regular audience, a mixture of traditional hard SF fans, space enthusiasts and libertarians.