"Mercury" by Ben Bova (2005)
"When the greenhouse cliff struck so abruptly, flooding coastal cities, collapsing the international electric power grid, wrecking the economy, Earth's governments became repressive, authoritarian. People who are hungry, homeless, and without hope will always trade their individual liberties for order, for safety, for food. Ultraconservative religious groups came to power in Asia, the Middle East, even Europe and America; they ruled with an absolute faith in their own convictions and zero tolerance for anyone else's."
Ben Bova has been kicking around the sci-fi world for a LONG time, and I'm a bit surprised it's taken me this long to read one of his books. He's won the Hugo several times, he was the editor of both Analog and Omni, and he's written more novels than I'd care to count. At the time of writing he's 85 years old, and his most recent book appeared this year.
His novel "Mercury" forms part of his "Grand Tour" series, which explores the (human) settlement of the solar system. This series stretches all the way back to 1985, and with new entries published every year or so you can imagine how many there are.
While the plot of this book could be dismissed as "Count of Monte Cristo in space," it's grounded in solid technical details, and written with a good eye for drama. It's not a stylistic achievement by any means - just a solidly written story of revenge - but Bova's more pedestrian writing style serves the story well. Certain touches like naming it "Goethe Base" are a little too on the nose, but this is a small complaint. In the greater scheme of things Mercury builds steadily toward its somewhat ambiguous conclusion.
Of particular note is the disaster that occurs halfway through this novel. This sequence of events is executed brilliantly, and while reading this part of the book I kept thinking how amazing this sequence would appear on film.
I've already bought Ben Bova's Mars, and plan on reading it soon. Mercury has been a surprisingly enjoyable read, and I heartily recommend it.