Walter Scott – New World Encyclopedia

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (August 15, 1771 – September 21, 1832) was an influential Scottish novelist, poet, and critic. Scott was among the first to draw upon history as source material for his fiction and is generally cited as the father of the historical novel. His novels of Scottish history, such as Waverley (1814) and Rob Roy (1818) awakened pride among Scots, while Ivanhoe (1820) was influential in renewing interest in the Middle Ages and medieval traditions of chivalry. Many of his works are classics of both English and, specifically, Scottish literature.

Scott’s works follow the transition from the eighteenth century Enlightenment to nineteenth century Romanticism. Scott’s novels present both the great and the ordinary caught up in historic conflicts between opposing cultures: Ivanhoe (1819) between Normans and Saxons; The Talisman (1825) between Christians and Muslims; and his Scottish history novels between old Scottish traditions and the new English order. Scott’s egalitarian sensibility depicted heroism and moral elevation among men and women regardless of class, religion, politics, or ancestry. Throughout the body of Scott’s work, principles of justice, honor, and integrity inform not only the values of his protagonists but play a role in historic events.

Although critics have faulted Scott as a prolix, undisciplined writer, Scott’s best novels wove sophisticated plots, keen social consciousness, and colorful characterization into enduring works of fiction. Scott achieved unrivaled popularity throughout Europe, America, and Australia during his lifetime, and despite a decline in reputation, his novels and poetry remain widely read. His widely quoted verse, “Oh! what a tangled web we weave/when first we practice to deceive,” underscores Scott’s insight into moral dilemmas, while his amiability, generosity, and modesty made him a respected public figure in his lifetime.


Walter Scott was born in College Wynd in the Old Town of Edinburgh August 15, 1771, the son of a solicitor. Scott survived a childhood bout of polio in 1773 that would leave him lame in his right leg for the rest of his life. To restore his health, he was sent to live for some years in the rural Scottish Borders region at his grandparents’ farm at Sandyknowe, a region where he avidly explored in his leisure time. Scott walked up to thirty miles a day, while he learned the speech patterns and many of the tales and legends that would characterize much of his work. Also, for his health, he spent a year in Bath, Somerset, England.

Scott attended Edinburgh University arts and law and was apprenticed to his father in 1786. In 1792 he was called to the bar, and in 1799, appointed sheriff depute of the county of Selkirk. In 1797 Scott married Margaret Charlotte Charpenter, daughter of Jean Charpentier of Lyon, France, and together they had five children. In 1806, Scott was appointed clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

In 1796, at the age of 25, Scott translated and published some rhymed verses of German ballads by Bürger. In 1802-03 Scott’s first major work, a three-volume set of collected Scottish ballads, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, appeared. This was the first sign of his interest in Scottish history from a literary standpoint. Scott’s next work, The Lay Of The Last Minstrel (1805), about an old border country legend, became a huge success and brought the author wide fame. He published a number of other poems over the next ten years, including the popular The Lady of the Lake, printed in 1810, and set in the Trossachs. Portions of the German translation of this work were later set to music by Franz Schubert. One of these songs, Ellens dritter Gesang, is popularly labeled as “Schubert’s Ave Maria.” Scott’s last major poem, The Lord Of The Isles, was published in 1815.

Another work from this time period, Marmion, produced some of his most quoted (and most often mis-attributed) lines. Canto VI. Stanza 17 reads:

Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun,
Must separate Constance from the nun
Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!
A Palmer too! No wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye;

In 1809, his Tory sympathies led him to become a co-founder of the Quarterly Review, a review journal to which he made several anonymous contributions.

The novels

In his earlier married days, Scott made a decent living from his earnings at the law, his salary as Sheriff-Depute, his wife’s income, some revenue from his writing, and his share of his father’s rather meager estate. To increase his income he started a printing and publishing business with his friend James Ballantyne. The enterprise crashed, however, and Scott accepted all debts and tried to pay them off with his writings.

Scott’s first novel, Waverley, was published anonymously in 1814, a tale of Jacobite rebellion of 1745, which attempted to restore a Scottish family to the British throne. Its English protagonist Edward Waverley, by his Tory upbringing sympathetic to Jacobitism, becomes enmeshed in events, eventually choosing Hanoverian respectability. The novel met with considerable success. There followed a succession of novels over the next five years, each with a Scottish historical setting. Scott included little in the way of punctuation in his drafts, which he left for the printers to supply.[1]

Mindful of his reputation as a poet, Scott maintained the habit of publishing the novels anonymously under the name “Author of Waverley” or attributed as Tales of…. Even when it was clear that there would be no harm in coming out into the open, he maintained the façade. During this time, the nickname The Wizard of the North was popularly applied to the mysterious best-selling writer. His identity as the author of the novels was widely rumored, and in 1815, Scott was given the honor of dining with George, Prince Regent, who wanted to meet “the author of Waverley.”

In 1819, he broke away from writing about Scotland with Ivanhoe, a historical romance set in twelfth century England. Ivanhoe follows the Saxon protagonist, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is out of favor with his father owing to his courting of the Lady Rowena (promised to another man) and his allegiance to the Norman king, Richard the Lion-heart, who is returning from the Crusades incognito amidst the plotting of Richard’s brother, Prince John of England. The legendary Robin Hood, initially under the name of Locksley, is also a character in the story, as are his “merry men,” including Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale. Scott’s Robin Hood in Ivanhoe helped shape the modern notion of this figure as a cheery, noble outlaw.

Other major characters include Ivanhoe’s intractable Saxon father, the last descendant of the Saxon King Harold Godwinson; various Knights Templar and churchmen; the loyal serfs Gurth the swineherd and the jester, or fool, Wamba, whose not-so-foolish observations punctuate much of the action; and the Jewish moneylender, Isaac, who is torn between love of money and love of his beautiful and heroic daughter Rebecca, who, in turn, steals the story (and probably Scott’s heart) from Ivanhoe and Rowena.

The novel was a runaway success and, as he did with his first novel, he authored a series of books along the same lines. The book was published at a time when the struggle for the Emancipation of the Jews in England was gathering momentum. Ivanhoe helped to increase popular interest in the Middle Ages in nineteenth century Europe and America, a fascination that has endured to the present day.

Fame and declining fortune

As his fame grew during this phase of his career, he was granted the title of baronet, becoming Sir Walter Scott. When King George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822, the spectacular pageantry Scott organized made tartans and kilts fashionable, turning them into symbols of Scottish national identity.

Beginning in 1825, he fell into dire financial straits again, as his company nearly collapsed. That he was the author of his novels became general knowledge at this time as well. Rather than declare bankruptcy, he placed his home, Abbotsford House, and income into a trust belonging to his creditors, and proceeded to write his way out of debt. He kept up his prodigious output of fiction (as well as producing a biography of Napoléon Bonaparte) until 1831. By then his health was failing, and he died at Abbotsford in 1832. Though not in the clear by then, his novels continued to sell, and he made good on his debts from beyond the grave. He was buried in Dryburgh Abbey where nearby, fittingly, a large statue can be found of William Wallace—one of Scotland’s most romantic historical figures.

When Scott was a boy, he sometimes traveled with his father from Selkirk to Melrose, in the Scottish Border Country, where some of his novels are set. At a certain spot, the old gentleman would stop the carriage and take his son to a stone on the site of the battle of Melrose (1526). Not far away was a little farm called Cartleyhole, and this Scott eventually purchased.

In due course, the farmhouse grew into a wonderful home that has been likened to a fairy palace. Through windows enriched with the insignia of heraldry, the sun shone on suits of armor, trophies of the chase, fine furniture, and distinguished artwork. Paneling of oak and cedar and carved ceilings relieved by coats of arms in their correct color added to the beauty of the house. The house contains an impressive collection of historic relics and weapons (including Rob Roy’s gun and Montrose’s sword), and a library containing over 9,000 rare volumes. More land was purchased, until Scott owned nearly 1,000 acres. A neighboring Roman road with a ford used in olden days by the abbots of Melrose suggested the name of Abbotsford. The house was opened to the public in 1833, five months after Sir Walter’s death, and has remained a popular attraction.


At the height of his fame, Walter Scott was the most popular writer in Europe. Building on the picaresque traditions of Henry Fielding and Daniel Defoe and the Gothic romances of Ann Radcliffe, Scott enlarged the novel’s horizons by turning to history as direct source material. Read by nobility as well as commoners and by both men and women, the novel in Scott’s hands became a respectable literary genre. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Alexander Pushkin, Honore de Balzac, and Leo Tolstoy were all influenced by Scott. Tolstoy’s War and Peace, a fictional recreation of Napoleonic Europe and directly attributable by Scott, elevated the historical novel to the summit or artistry. Recognizing Scott’s achievement, King George IV made the Scottish writer a baronet in 1820.

From being one of the most popular novelists of the nineteenth century, Scott suffered a precipitous decline in reputation after the First World War. Mark Twain had ridiculed Scott’s romanticized notion of chivalry in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Later, in his classic work of literary criticism, “Aspects of the Novel” (1927), E.M. Forster savaged Scott as a clumsy writer who wrote slapdash, badly plotted novels. Scott also suffered from the growing reputation of Jane Austen. Considered merely an entertaining “woman’s novelist” in the nineteenth century, Austen came to be seen as perhaps the major English novelist of the first few decades of the nineteenth century. As Austen’s star rose, Scott’s sank, although, ironically, he had been one of the few male writers of his time to recognize Austen’s genius.

Scott’s many literary flaws (ponderousness, prolixity, lack of humor) were fundamentally out of step with Modernist sensibilities. After going essentially unstudied for many decades, a small revival of interest in Scott’s work began in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite Scott’s flaws, he is now seen as an important innovator and a key figure in the development of Scottish and world literature.

Scott was also responsible, through a series of pseudonymous letters published in the Edinburgh Weekly News in 1826, for retaining the right of Scottish banks to issue their own banknotes, which is reflected to this day by his continued appearance on the front of all notes issued by the Bank of Scotland.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice soundtrack review,will%20no%20doubt%20fit%20perfectly%20within%20the%20film.

Can composers Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL give us a worthy soundtrack to the universes greatest battle between Batman and Superman?!

Now, you might be asking… why on earth are you reviewing a soundtrack score to a film you haven’t even seen yet? Isn’t the whole point of music in a film to reflect and portray the images on screen? Can an album of music so integrated into the film it accompanies ever be judged away from said film? All valid points, but, this is no ordinary soundtrack score.

First of all, this is the second collaboration between two of the great modern day composers. Hans Zimmer’s back catalogue is littered with incredible soundtrack scores such as The Lion King, Gladiator, The Dark Knight trilogy, Inception and Interstellar whilst Junkie XL has contributed to films such as The Dark Knight Rises, Man Of Steel and has himself composed the music for Deadpool and Mad Max: Fury Road. They both bring a power, edge and uniqueness to the films they score being capable of the huge pounding sound as well as the quieter more reflective moment. Secondly, they have some mighty big boots to fill.

John Williams and Danny Elfman gave Superman and Batman (respectively) stone cold classic soundtracks. Superman’s main title march and Batman’s theme are genuine iconic pieces of music that are forever imprinted onto the sub conscious of our minds. When we imagine ourselves flying like Superman or being as badass as Batman, what do we do? We hum out loud their tunes. And thirdly, yes, this is a soundtrack score, but, it is also a musical statement and in being so, merits judgement standing on its own two feet. The secret to a masterpiece soundtrack score is its arrogance of working without the visuals it is written for with two prime examples being Vangelis Blade Runner and Ennio Morricone The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. So, like I said, Batman V Superman is no ordinary soundtrack score…hell, Zimmer has already done Batman and Superman before so there is no reason that this shouldn’t be anything short of mind blowing.

So, before we start, minimum spoilers here. In fact, the titles of the individual songs themselves seem to be made up of quotes we have heard in the various trailers released (The Red Capes Are Coming and Do You Bleed? for example) so a good way to kick off. Also, the version I am reviewing is the Deluxe Edition which has a total of 18 tracks spread over two discs and also comes with a decent booklet (again with no spoilers), a poster and is packaged extremely well. We are thrown straight into it with opening track Beautiful Lie, a bombastic and epic wall of sound that gives way to an almost creepy piano motif interspersed with bells before building momentum as the orchestra gives us subtle hints of past Dark Knight trilogy sounds with added choral.

Their War Here rushes along, slamming beats and powerful choir opening up into music lifted directly from Zimmer’s Man Of Steel soundtrack (probably done on purpose) giving us a solid, if not remarkable, first two tracks. The Red Capes Are Coming however, is a different beast. This is a very dark, thunderously deep piano led tune that climbs, falls, rolls and stomps all over the place, reminiscent of pure classical music and a track that, by the sound of it, could be Lex Luthor’s theme (or a part of it anyways). Day Of The Dead starts off as the slow piano tune from Man Of Steel building in exactly the same way then becoming sorrowful and almost sad whilst Must There Be A Superman’s female choir, breathing style strings and manic style give the track a 2001 A Space Odyssey hint and feel.

Track number six, New Rules, is very odd. The first half sounding like it has been lifted directly from either the Alien or Prometheus soundtrack…so much so that Zimmer and XL ought to worry about copyright infringement! Do You Bleed reminds me of The Matrix Revolutions when Neo and Agent Smith are flying all over the place kicking the crap out of each other with some techno sounds thrown into the fray as well. Problems Up Here is mostly a rehash of The Red Capes Are Coming, Black And Blue feels very mechanical and “Doomsday” like and highlights Junkie Xl’s pounding drums brilliantly working with Zimmer’s choir production, Is She With You? is obviously Wonder Woman’s theme and adds some (what sounds like) very welcome lead guitar work into the mix, and, This Is My World gives us a fist pumping “yes we did it” epic start but then brings it right down with gorgeous choir “but at what loss” emotion.

Final track, Men Are Still Good (The Batman Suite) is a 14 minute accumulation of everything that has transpired previously (and from the Man Of Steel soundtrack score) interspersed with very black rumblings of dread, playfully dark violins and orchestra so low and deep, it grumbles and vibrates. The second disc (labelled as Bonus Tracks) continues the first discs sound over its five tracks with the exception of Vigilante sounding very much borderline horror movie uneasiness in parts and Fight Night bringing the whole thing to a close with some disturbing sounds weaved in.

First the positives. It sounds incredible! Obviously played by insanely skilled musicians with years of experience, it doesn’t falter from start to finish. Each instrument is given equal mixing, the production is outstanding and you can clearly hear the true collaboration aspect between the two composers (although it is probably 60%-40% balanced towards Zimmer in style). The variation is also spot on going from the epic superhero sound to the quiet serene moments. Light victorious sections give way to genuinely dark passages, and, as much as it sounds like what you would expect, there are pieces that completely catch you of guard and push the boundaries of soundtrack score music; I am really excited to hear this within the context of the film, especially The Red Capes Are Coming…the highlight track of the album without a doubt!

Now come the negatives. Considering this is meant to be Batman V Superman, I didn’t hear anything that sounded like a Batman type theme and there was an over reliance on re-using music from the Man Of Steel soundtrack for Superman which is odd considering we have been told from day one that the film isn’t Man Of Steel 2. There are also strange moments where it unashamedly rips off other soundtracks…as mentioned Alien, Prometheus, 2001 and The Matrix Revolutions are so in your face, you wonder how it was not highlighted by the people involved. But the one thing that irks me more than anything is the fact that this is Batman V Superman god dammit…the biggest showdown between two of the greatest superheroes ever created, “Son of Krypton versus bat of Gotham”, yet the score doesn’t seen to reflect this. Honestly, it isn’t a patch on Zimmer’s Dark Knight trilogy or even as good as his Man Of Steel soundtrack score.

So, to conclude, the Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice soundtrack score is very good. It does its job well, sounds unbelievable and will no doubt fit perfectly within the film. There are moments of actual genius that send shivers shooting down your spine yet there are moments of bewilderment and unoriginality leaving you with a lingering worry about what actually might have been. A worry that lingers in the back of my mind when I think about the film itself…come next week, will I be left wondering what might have been or, like I said at the beginning, will Mr Snyder pull off the impossible?

The vast, unplayable history of video games | Boing Boing

We face a practical — and cultural — archiving crisis unprecedented in any other medium. It’s time to change that.

In 2008, the year I took my first Cinema class, a 16mm full cut of the film Metropolis was found in Museo del Cine in Argentina. It felt like a miracle. We’d all stop each other—have you heard? Some of the scenes were too damaged to repair, but it was genuine, and in 2010 Metropolis was re-premiered, as close to the original print as is possible. Undeniably influential and utterly, catastrophically lost, Metropolis had always fascinated me. And I would be able to see it, at last.

P.T. was a “playable teaser” of Konami’s upcoming Silent Hills horror game, an unusual endeavor in an industry that mostly markets on heavily-edited video trailers. It was exciting as much in its own right as for the promises it made. On April 26th, 2015, Konami announced that it would be pulling P.T., from the PlayStation store, after less than a year. No miracle will bring it back, and it’s no special tragedy: This happens all the time in games. Losing great works is the norm, practically expected.

No one will actually forget P.T., right? Won’t its cult appeal last forever? Won’t this article I’m writing about it always be live, always keep P.T. in our minds? I’d like to assume so. No one really forgot about Earthbound or its sequel Mother 3, either, or SystemShock or its successors. But will people ever be able to play P.T. again?

My cinema classes offered me a very clearly delineated set of films I could watch in order to understand the history, technical advancements and artistic developments of American cinema. Workers Leaving the Factory, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and so on and so on, until we reach the present day. Games, an art form only about 30 years old, has no such canon of great works. Maybe that’s due to the youth of the medium. But let’s say we had such a list: Would we still have easy access to them all? Would they be archived in such a way that we could still play them, or might their platforms, their technology, have aged out of relevance, lost to the winds?

One of the greatest hurdles in archiving games is that there is no surefire way to archive digital media across the board. Cinema is having its own crisis on how to properly archive video. Tape degrades quickly, and colors and sound wear out as the years go by. DVDs eventually stop playing from use. Hard drives, thought to be infallible, can dry up and spin their last, become aging, enormous bricks left in the wake of technological progress’ march.

Writer Shamus Young details how games face these issues and more: how companies that make graphics cards don’t often document the changes to drivers they make for popular games, how the licensing for music gets very complicated as time moves on, how both consoles and operating systems are locked down to prevent backwards compatibility. But most importantly there is a harsh enforcement of copyright, even for games that are functionally unpurchasable. And now we see that the forces that hold those copyrights are often happy to will a game to disappear entirely.

My friend Nico, who once worked for the Internet Archive, told me that she only ever dealt with works that had entered the public domain or had an established estate. The works she was archiving were, on average, over a hundred years old. She also told me that archived works are usually offered at a highly discounted price, or even free. Maybe we’ll see P.T. again in 2115, if Konami decides that milking the Silent Hill franchise isn’t worth it anymore.

Konami’s commitment to whisk P.T. away behind a vanishing curtain is really the same old story of these corporations aggressively protecting their intellectual property. It’s because these companies see games not as an art form, but as a piece of technology. If archiving a work means that it may become free, or that some theoretical profits might be lost, why do it?

Cinema can be traced the same way in history. Star Wars can be considered important because George Lucas invented cameras to film the scenes he wanted in the way he wanted them to be seen. But a reduction of art to a story of technology doesn’t account for the societal and cultural importance of the works produced. Star Wars isn’t just a story of technology, but a Kurosawa-inspired epic of the journey out of bondage. Can you explain Rothko in just an examination of his painting techniques? Or is he important because of what it feels like to stand in front of his work?

Museums spend an extraordinary amount of money to preserve artwork in an optimal condition. You can’t touch anything, or get close enough to have the carbon dioxide on your breath change the colors in the paint. Each room is climate-controlled in order to slow down the aging process of pigment on canvas. They do this because it is understood in the Fine Arts that seeing something in person can help explain how we got to where we are now. You can trace a line, like in Cinema, from cave paintings to the renaissance to abstract expressionism to now.

Metropolis was technologically advanced, sure. But it was also produced at a time when science fiction was new, when the kind of story it was telling, about gender and the terrifying power of the Industrial Revolution, was still uncharted territory. That the Maschinenmensch is a woman is no accident: this was the Weimar Republic, the 1920s, where women internationally and specifically in Germany were rebelling against the hand they’d been dealt in life.

Finding a full print of Metropolis wasn’t simply about understanding how that film was made, or even just about seeing it in full—seeing Metropolis can help us understand how those people lived, how we live, how we tell stories. Konami doesn’t care how P.T. will help us understand ourselves and our stories—and P.T. wants to tell a story, about masculinity, about fatherhood, about what scares us, about how men treat women. Konami cares about profit, and P.T. will not make them a profit.

Our failure to cultivate a full appreciation of history within games extends beyond just the games themselves and into our collective database of knowledge, criticism and practices within our field. “Collectively, we have a short memory, mostly back to the childhoods of whatever generation is currently not yet fed up with games enough to romanticize it,” says author and professor Ian Bogost.

“It makes our belief in our current novelty innocent on the one hand, but it ensures we build on a very limited version of the past on the other,” he continues. “Yes, there’s always some truly new novelty in games. But the bigger trends always seem to start from scratch, unaware of what came before, unable to incorporate and build upon it.”

Games critics seem to have the same arguments, the same discussions every five years or so; maybe we, all of us, think like Konami. What will get us the most hits? What is the freshest, hottest take on the topic du jour? What Op-Ed will get the readers that make sure that these sites stay open? My friend Max asked me why there’s no annual publication of the best games journalism. This is why: none of us care about our history.

“Gaming’s old-timers grow weary and quit (or get driven out), and everyone forgets and starts over, patting themselves on the back for being young and clever and confident,” Bogost continues. “I’d say ‘all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again,’ but even that’s a reference that will likely be missed by many. ‘Yeah, but that was like, five years ago. Everything’s different now. It’s a golden age.'”

To make our history a priority, and in particular to prioritize the work of archiving, means that we have to take a huge cultural shift, and in the time it takes to shift perception we will lose things. There were PC games that came out in 1998 that we’ve already forgotten: technology, criticism has already marched on. This is our loss. When the games our children play are retreading the same ground design-wise as the ones we remember, we should know who to blame. When that print of Metropolis was found in the Museo Del Cine, it was a miracle. I wonder how I will feel if we see P.T. ever again.

BOOK REVIEW: Venus, by Ben Bova

Alex Humphries died on Venus, and now his brother is going to bring the remains home. But Van has more to worry about than one of the deadliest world in the solar system, because he is not the only one looking for Alex’s body . . .

After three Ben Bova books that proved to be thoroughly soothing and gentle explorations of both strange new worlds and the human spirit, I thought I knew what to expect from Venus. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Yes, the hard-edged science is still there. In fact, there’s an early chapter that is nothing more than three deeply engrossing pages of information about Venus. Bova’s love of science and exploration are both on display. But this book is anything but gentle and soothing. There’s more to Bova than just scientists being nice to one another, and it’s the pettier strand of society that’s on display here. The Grand Tour books have been universally interesting, but Venus is the first that I’d call genuinely thrilling. In fact, it’s my favourite Ben Bova book to date.

This is a book full of surprises, starting with the main character’s name. I assumed he was a man of Dutch origin called van Humphries. But no, Van is his forename, and he’s our narrator here as Bova shifts to the first person for this novel. As you’d expect from Bova, Van knows his science, but there are also personal stakes involved in his journey. The Humphries family has a messy background and while the family squabbling largely takes place off the page, it informs everything that goes on over the course of the next four hundred pages. Granted, none of the dynastic politics are the most intricate you’ll find in literature, but with space colonisation being run by deeply flawed billionaires, it’s hard not to be drawn in by them. Matters are soon complicated by a (somewhat inevitable) romance subplot, but this serves to illustrate the key difference between Van Humphries and previous Bova protagonists. Van Humphries is not a particularly nice man. Yes, he tried to do the right thing, but he’s also horribly self-obsessed. everything is filtered through his own warped perception, and he makes as many poor choices as he does heroic decisions. He is, in a word, fascinating.

As I delve deeper into the worlds of the Grand Tour, I am continually impressed with the universe Bova has built. There’s no central narrative to make this a series, but these twenty-something novels are already shaping up to be something incredible. As a long-time fantasy reader, I know how easy it is to burn out on longer series. That’s in no small part why I now gravitate towards science fiction. In having multiple standalones, Bova creates a universe that goes beyond a single story. Yes, there is some crossover between books. A certain Martian explorer pays a role here, for example. But the Grand Tour is incredibly accessible. Of the four books I’ve read thus far, three would have been perfect entry points. And the fourth wouldn’t have taken much explaining. I wish there were more universes like this. For now though, I have plenty more Ben Bova to spend my time with.

For me, Venus is the final piece of evidence I needed. Vindication of my belief that random book purchases are the way to go. I knew nothing about Ben Bova going into my first book of his, save that he had recently died. It turned out I’d been missing out on an author who seems almost tailor-made for me. Everything I want from science fiction, Bova offers in spades. So if you’re reading this, and there’s an author you’ve been thinking about getting into, go do it. That book with the interesting cover? Buy it! It could be the best decision you’ll ever make.