Reviews of Mercury (2005)
Review by johnafair (2006-01-13)
The story is split between the present of the book, set on Mercury, with the astrobiologist Victor Molina, the chairman emeritus of Yamagata Industries, Saito Yamagata, Bishop Danvers of the New Morality that ran North America and the engineer Dante Alexios. Yamagata thinks that Alexios is working for him in building power satellites that could harvest the virtually unlimited output of Sol's powers. Yamagata has more in mind than power to a power starved Earth. Molina has been told that there might be rocks out on the sun blasted surface of Mercury that show there was life in this most unlikely spot. Bishop Danvers is on Mercury to be the New Morality's troubleshooter in this lates round of the battle between Science and Religion.
As Molina gets into hot water over the provinence of the rocks he oh-so-conveniently found so near the base, we are taken back a decade to the site of the Equidor Space Elevator Project that is just about to go into commercial operation. Here we are introduced to a younger Molina, who's presence on the project is rathr surprising, and Manse Bracknell and Lara who... knew both of them. An as yet untested Danvers is also on site, ministering to the souls of those who were Believers.
When the Elevator was destroyed, causing chaos and death all round the planet as it's structure wrapped itself round the globe, Manse Bracknell found himself the most hated man on the planet. With his guilt assured, all those around him desert him and he's exiled to Space where he dreams of revenge.
The plot is more than a little similar to the Count of Monte Cristo - Bracknell as the Count, unjustly exiled and those involved in his downfall benefiting from his downfall (or not losing by it anyway!), but Bracknell's alter-ego gains his position in society by the power of his intellect rather than any 'inherited' wealth.
I initially found the jump back in tiime from the story's present to the Elevator disaster rather disconcerting as I'd just got into the current story at that stage after a fairly slow start. I was also just getting into the back story just as it drops back into the present. In all honesty, I preferred the middle bit but the whole book is another great entry in the Grand Tour sequence.