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The Rock Rats: The Asteroid Wars II Paperback – 15 Aug 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (15 Aug. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340769599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340769591
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.9 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 991,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In The Rock Rats, Ben Bova continues the melodramatic saga that began in The Precipice, with a gold rush to exploit mineral (and other) resources of that vast new frontier the asteroid belt.

Independent "rock rat" prospectors trying to get rich out there face not only the bleak hazards of space but ruthless claim-jumping and piracy from hissable bad guy Martin Humphries. Though exposed for murderous sabotage in book 1, this wicked industrialist and his giant corporation Humphries Space Systems remain major players. Soon HSS minions bring murder and arson to the Ceres asteroid base.

Also, with the enjoyable implausibility of a TV soap, Humphries is emotionally involved. Though consoling himself with mistresses he has the hots for lovely Amanda Cunningham, currently married to leading rock rat Lars Fuchs, who's determined to track down HSS's sadistic hitman Harbin... Man the lasers! Space-pirate ahoy!

Meanwhile on an Earth ravaged by the greenhouse effect and fundamentalist government, diplomatic overtures to the now independent Moon have a positively Ruritanian flavour:

Jatar Pahang was not only the world's most popular video star, she was also the mistress of Xu Xianqing, chairman of the world government's inner council, and his secret envoy to Stavenger and the government of Selene.

It adds up to pleasantly unlikely and over-the-top adventure, with Humphries and Harbin repeatedly and literally getting away with murder, while Fuchs isn't so lucky when innocent rock rats die in a revenge strike by his own privateer ship. The resulting cliff-hanger finale is a sure-fire hook for further mayhem amid the asteroids in book three.--David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


I believe that the science fiction author who will have the greatest effect on the world is Ben Bova (Ray Bradbury)

A splendid book . . of his many books, Mars must be the most important. (Arthur C. Clarke on MARS)

Extraordinary . . . this kind of story is the reason science fiction exists in the first place. (Orson Scott Card on MARS)

One of sci-fi's great contemporary writers...Ben Bova writes good, authentic science (Huddersfield Daily Examiner)

An epic space novel by an award-winning SF scribe (Books Magazine)

Return to Mars is an entertaining read, a good example of the bread and butter of the genre (Vector on RETURN TO MARS)

Another attention-grabbing entry in a series that continues to grow in stature ,scope and complexity.Once again,Bova in top form. (kirkus reviews)

Slick pacing,techincally competent. (dreamberry)

Bova is a masterful storyteller and the narrative is compelling, almost hypnotic (Vector on THE ROCK RATS)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lee M Chambers on 1 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
I have read the Moonbase series and followed the saga as man moved further into the Solar system (according to the author). This is an excellent continuation of the story. It is fast paced, covers fantastic and believable detail for technology 'achievements' and human emotions. The story is, as usual, entirely gripping and attention seeking. Pick it up and you can't put ut down. I now have a void in that it finishes, as ever, with the reader eargerly awaiting the next part of the story....
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Format: Kindle Edition
My enjoyment of this book The Rock Rats: The Asteroid Wars II was spoilt by the Kindle edition being formatted / transcribed very badly.

Many words where "hyphen-ated" incorrectly, where there should not have been a hyphen.

Clearly there was no / inadequate proof reading of the Kindle edition in this instance and a paper copy would not have reached publication with these errors.

I returned my copy for a refund as, in its current form it is not for for purpose. I hope the publisher corrects this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 24 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Slightly better than The Precipice 19 Oct. 2003
By Gary Riley - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The second book of The Asteroid Wars is slightly better than the first, primarily because there's more action, but it suffers from the same flaw as the first, namely characters that just aren't that interesting. I'd put Bova in the same general class as Tom Clancy: good when writing about hardware, but unable to write characters with any real depth. If you want to read a good book by Bova, start with Jupiter or Venus which focus much more on science and hardware than this book.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Rabble In Arms 27 Aug. 2006
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Rock Rats (2002) is the second SF novel in the Asteroid Wars series, following The Precipice. In the previous volume, Kris Cardenas almost commits suicide over her sabotage of the Starpower 1, but decides to stay alive to ensure that Martin Humphries is convicted for his crimes.

On the Starpower 1, the crew abandon ship temporarily to burrow into the surface of Asteroid 32-114, a porous body like a huge sand pile, but Dan Randolph still receives a fatal dose of radiation. Before he dies, Randolph leaves all his possessions to Pancho Lane, including a huge block of Astro Manufacturing. After returning to Selene, Pancho is voted onto the board of directors of Astro, despite Humphries's opposition.

In this novel, Humphries's lawyers tie up Selene's courts on the exile order, but the courts still divest him of all his shares in Astro Manufacturing and Starpower. He crashes the wedding reception for Amanda Cunningham and Lar Fuchs and presents them with a wedding present: the refurbished Starpower 1. While he hopes that Lars will go to the Belt and leave Amanda behind, the couple foil Humphries by leaving together.

The more Amanda avoids Humphries's attempts to get her into bed, the more he is infatuated with her. His latest ploy is a trading and maintenance center on Ceres, the largest asteroid. Amanda convinces Lars and Pancho to open another trading company, Helvetia Inc., in competition with Humphries Space Systems, with Astro providing the goods at low cost. They now have a larger clientele than HSS.

Humphries's aide suggests a carrot and stick approach to the problem. After consulting with his security chief, Humphries agrees to applying violence to Helvetia customers. A month later, rock rats start dying.

First three ships disappear and later the HSS files claim on asteroids that they have discovered. Then there is a fire in the Helvetia warehouse. When HSS men murder the chief engineer on the habitat project, the body is taken to Kris Cardenas, who determines the cause of death and even the name of the murderer.

Lars tracks down the murderer, goads him into attacking him with the murder weapon, and then kills him thoroughly. Under Lars's insistence, a court is formed to try him for murder. Of course, the court finds him innocent, but a precedence is set for the formation of a government in the Belt.

This novel relates the beginning moves in the Asteroid Wars. HSS has attacked first and the rock rats are far behind. Yet this anarchy of individuals is finally starting to think of the social implications of an HSS monopoly and is appalled at the idea.

Recommended for Bova fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of corporate battles, social conflict and personal frustrations.

-Arthur W. Jordin
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Classic tragedy set in outer space 30 Jun. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is excellent, period. Bova develops a future where the earth's resources have been depleted, and its only hope lies in the mineral rich asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The ores in the Belt are worth countless trillions of dollars, and struggle develops between an industrial tycoon, Martin Humphries, and the unofficial leader of independent asteroid prospectors, Lars Fuchs. Humphries is a cold-blooded, hyper-ambitious industrialist that amkes JR Ewing look like a saint. Fuchs is genuinely concerned about "the little man," but is a slave to his own volcanic temper and violent urges. The two men are the centers around which the war for control of the asteroid belt revolves.
Warning: this book does not end happy. Hence the word "tragedy" in the title of my review. Fuchs own moral and personal failings prove his undoing; yet Humphries does not truly win either. To say more would ruin the book. Just remember that this book is a tragedy, in the classic sense of the word. Think "Moby Dick" as an example of what I mean.
The charge that Bova does not develop the characters enough is superfluous; these same characters have appeared in other books by him and have been fully developed in those, so to do so again in this book would be repetitive and unfair to his loyal readers. It is number two in a trilogy, so the final ending may be happier than the one in this book. Nonetheless, for those who can stand its sober conclusion, this book by itself is an excellent read. It is fast paced, technically accurate, and emphasizes action strongly. All in all a great way to spend a few hours.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Good science, wretched characters 28 Jun. 2002
By booksforabuck - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Earth is self-destructing into global warming, new morality, desertification, and starvation. The moon is independent but civilized. Now, the real frontier is the asteroid belt--an area where a man can dream about the big find that will make him rich--and where most of the money is collected by the merchants, the companies that transport ore back to Seline and Earth, and by the barmen and entertainers. When Amanda Cunningham marries Lars Fuchs, Martin Humphries conceives of a clever plan--give the couple a spaceship as a wedding present and send Lars out on a wild goose chase. While he's gone, Humphries is certain that he can persuade Amanda to join him in his bed--and as his wife. When Amanda decides to join Lars on the ship, Humphries has to scheme more deeply, setting off piracy and violence in the anarchic asteroid belt. With his resources, this isn't difficult for Humphries--and he knows that Lars will react just fine.
THE ROCK RATS continues author Ben Bova's near future saga with a number of recurring characters. Bova's science--from asteroid hunting to nanotechnology to global warming to using the gravity of an asteroid to conserve fuel--seems sound and provides an intriguing backdrop to the story. Similarly, his new morality movement on Earth as well as occasional references to terrorism are interesting extrapolations from today into the near future.
Where Bova falls short is in his characters. Amanda spends much of THE ROCK RATS whining about wanting to return to Earth--apparently unconcerned that she and Lars provide the only competitive supply source for the thousands of explorers and miners who are their friends--and the hope of humanity's survival. Lars lets hatred and jealosy motivate his behavior and drive him into simply unforgiveable acts. Pancho Lane, a major character in THE PRECIPICE (see our review) is a cameo character without a lot of depth. Even Humphries' beautiful and deadly assistant Diane Verwoerd becomes terminally stupid toward the end of the novel. Frankly, although Humphries is the badguy, he's the only sympathetic character in the novel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Slow Starter 17 July 2008
By Mouldy Pilgrim - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not being a major fan of Ben Bova, I was interested in the comments made by some reviewers who obviously are fans. The harsh criticisms levelled at "The Rock Rats" were quite interesting. While I would not lambast the book as complete rubbish, it certainly lacked something that the previous novel, The Precipice (The Grand Tour; also Asteroid Wars), had.

The plot basically follows on from the first novel, (with some large jumps in time), and focuses on Martin Humphries' attempts to tighten his grip on control of the asteroid belt and its super-abundant resources and profits. Of course, being a rather morally challenged villain, he uses some nasty methods. Up against this behemoth of industry is Lars Fuchs, protege and beneficiary of Dan Rudolph. With a large number of subplots going on, there is much more to it than this simplistic summary.

One reviewer commented that the story jumps about a bit. While this is true, with jumps of dossiers on characters and so on, I feel this does not detract from the novel itself. The brief episodes add an air of anticipation, I thought, as I wondered how these people would fit in. The only thing that annoyed me a bit was the so-called "dossiers" were in very novel-like language, hardly anything like that of real dossiers. They just didn't seem convincing.

The plot itself takes longer to wind up than the previous novel of the series. For about the first 100 pages, I found it a bit of a chore, to be honest. Once I got into the second century of pages, things started to move, finally. The adventure was back and the conflict reached a new level.

I would also add this: Lars Fuchs seems an odd sort of main character for this type of role. He just seems a bit more wishy washy than most, and seemed less than adequate. When he finally gets some substance, the novel ends. This might be overly critical, but I thought the character of Dan Randolph had much more substance, as did many of the subsidiary characters.

While not as good as "The Precipice", I still enjoyed this installment of "The Asteroid Wars". The read is simple and does not require lots of brain power. It is a good relaxing jaunt through the solar system neighbourhood that Earth is in.
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