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Power Surge by Ben Bova
Cover Artist: Getty Images.
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765334978
Date: 11 August 2015 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

What is harder to do--develop a comprehensive energy plan for the future, or get the plan approved and implemented by Congress? In Power Surge, by Ben Bova, the political part is certainly more difficult. A new Senator comes to Washington with a great energy plan developed by his science advisor, but soon discovers that good ideas and politics do not always get along.

Newly-elected Senator B. Franklin Tomlinson came to Washington from Montana with an idea for a new energy policy to supply the United States with sustainable energy well into the future. His Science Adviser and fellow Montanan, Dr. Jake Ross, helped him develop the plan and use it as a platform to win his senate seat. Researchers in Montana have a new type of coal-burning power generation that is the center of the plan called Magnetohydrodynamic Power Generation, or MHD. It is highly efficient and is able to use coal that is a lower-grade than coal used in normal coal-burning plants. Their idea is noble, and Senator Tomlinson becomes a member of the Senate Energy Committee.

Very quickly, Jake and Frank learn that the inside of Washington, D.C. politics is ugly. Any common person can see that the Energy Plan is a great idea, but the fossil fuel lobby sees it as a threat to their profits. Senator Tomlinson, along with his staff, is told to take his place as a junior senator and shut up, but he persists. Tomlinson and Jake Ross learn something about Washington politics as they fight to get the committee to hear their plan. The details are the meat and potatoes of the story.

The real main character is Jake Ross. He is a widower, and a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, that managed to get into college and advance himself. Senator Tomlinson comes from family money and after moving to Washington, lives in a great mansion, whereas Jake lives in a basement apartment. Jake is a good friend of the senator but, without the wealth and family connections behind him, he goes through many ups and down throughout the story. His character develops as the story progress and it is lots of fun to read.

Power Surge is obviously a play on words combining both electrical power and political power. All Americans realize that special interests and political favors get in the way of real progress in our government, and Ben Bova certainly shows it in this book. I felt a little bit like the underdog against the big establishment as I read this novel, and I really wanted Jake and the Senator's staff to succeed.

Power Surge stands completely on its own as a novel, but it is a continuation of the book Power Play, also by Ben Bova. Power Play also features Jake Ross as the main character and discusses the development of MHD and Senator Tomlinson's election. I love both books and I highly recommend that you read both. I hope Ben Bova writes some more along this line of characters.

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