The Precipice

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The Precipice
Cover of the US paperback edition
Author Ben Bova
Series Grand Tour
Genre Science Fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
26 October 2001
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 352 (Hardcover edition)
ISBN 978-0-312-84876-7
OCLC 47098509
813/.54 21
LC Class PS3552.O84 P65 2001
Followed by The Rock Rats

The Precipice is a science fiction novel by Hugo Award winner Ben Bova. This novel is part of the Grand Tour series of novels. It is the first book in the The Asteroid Wars series. It was first published in 2001. The title "The Precipice" refers to the "greenhouse cliff", or the ultimate collapse of Earth's biosphere, preceded by the steady encroachment of climate change.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The greenhouse effect is threatening the earth. Two rival industrialists, Dan Randolph and Martin Humphries believe that the key to earth's survival is to mine the asteroid belt and move earth's heavy industry to space.

Millionaire Dan Randolf is going bankrupt, due to the lack of work for his aerospace company, Astro Corp, due to the fact that the "greenhouse cliff" has put Earth at a higher priority than space. Cold-hearted multi-billionaire Martin Humphries shows Randolf a fully laid-out plan to reach the Asteroid Belt and mine it for its abundant metals. Randolf immediately takes up the idea, putting his entire life savings into the plan. Humphries donates much of the funds from his own pocket, planning to use that leverage later, after Randolf has put in all of his own work, to destroy Randolf, take over Astro Corp, and have a monopoly on all metals arriving from the Asteroids Belt.

While Dan Randolf wants to distribute the Asteroids' resources fairly at a very modest price to aid in the restoration of Earth's climate system, Martin Humphries intends to take over the company and use the monopoly to his own financial gain.


  • Dan Randolph, protagonist
  • Martin Humphries, antagonist
  • George Ambrose, Dan Randolph's personal bodyguard.
  • Pancho Lane, Leading astronaut, hired by Dan Randolf
  • Amanda Cunningham, astronaut, also the love-object of Martin Humphries
  • Lars Fuchs, asteroid specialist and love-mate of Amanda Cunningham
  • Lyall Duncan, inventor of the spracecraft fusion-propulsion system
  • Kris Cardenas, Nobel-laureate, solar system's top expert on nanotechnology


According to Library Journal, The Precipice "highlights current environmental issues and scientific speculation while simultaneously telling a tale of heroes and villains that should appeal to most fans of hard sf.[1]

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ Cassada, Jackie (2001-10-15). "The Precipice (Book Review)". Library Journal 126 (17): 112. ISSN 0363-0277.