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The Grand Tour is a series of novels written by science fiction author Ben Bova.


The novels present a theme of exploration and colonization of the solar system by humans in the late 21st century. Most of the books focus on the exploration of one particular planet or planetary moon.

Several recurring themes are presented throughout the series. In particular, most of the solar system bodies whose exploration is the focus of a particular novel are presented as having life, either past or present. Many of the expeditions which explore the planets run into serious difficulty. The protagonists of most of these books are presented as initially weak and/or lacking in ability or confidence, and as part of surviving the trials of the story become heroic.

The future humanity as depicted in the Grand Tour novel series is divided between Greens (environmentalists) and wealthy industrialists, as well as between secularists/scientists and religious fundamentalists. These conflicts generally are presented as part of the background and often set up the initial conflicts of each of the books. In addition, several of the books reference, or indeed directly deal with, conflicts between wealthy industrialists and small, independent operators seeking to exploit the solar system's vast untapped mineral wealth.

The above themes are arguably illustrative of Ben Bova's well-known views regarding capitalism and environmentalism.

List of novels, in chronological order

According to Ben Bova's official site the Grand Tour novels take place in an approximate time sequence (, with many of the novels overlapping. However, the 'official' internal chronology of the series isn't entirely consistent; for instance, the Moonbase Saga and Asteroid Wars sub-series are so closely related that they are really one long story and should be read together. Also, Bova himself lists Venus after Mercury, but details in the two books clearly indicate that Mercury takes place after Venus. Privateers can also be considered part of the series although as a kind of alternate history.

The chronological reading order as suggested by the author would be:

  • Powersat (2005)
  • Privateers (1985) (immediately precedes Empire Builders, with most of the same cast of characters, but with an alternate history including a still-extant Soviet Unionmarker, because it was written before the Soviet Union fell)
  • Empire Builders (1993)
  • Mars (1992)
  • Moonrise (1996) (The Moonbase Saga, v. I)
  • Moonwar (1998) (The Moonbase Saga, v. II)
  • Return to Mars (1999)
  • The Precipice (2001) (The Asteroid Wars, v. 1)
  • Jupiter (2001)
  • The Rock Rats (2002) (The Asteroid Wars, v. 2)
  • The Silent War (2004) (The Asteroid Wars, v. 3)
  • Saturn (2002)
  • Titan (2006), John W. Campbell Memorial Award
  • The Aftermath (2007) (The Asteroid Wars, v. 4)
  • Mars Life (2008)
  • Venus (2000)
  • Mercury (2005)

Tales of the Grand Tour (2004) (short story collection. This work contains stories that span much of the timeline of the Grand Tour)

Prominent/Reappearing characters

Due to the overlapping and chronological connection of these books, certain characters appear several times throughout the Grand Tour, becoming main characters in books that are seemingly unrelated.

  • George Ambrose - As the elected head of the Nation of Ceres, in the Asteroid Belt, he began his life as the bodyguard of Dan Randolf. Known as Big George by most, he was an extremely prominent figure in the Asteroid Wars.
  • Kris Cardenas - possibly the most often appearing character in all of the Grand Tour, she is a Nobel Laureate, Nanotechnology expert, the indirect and unintentional murderer of Dan Randolf, and has appeared in almost all books from Moonrise on through Titan, playing a role in every habitat and location besides the Jupiter and Mercury Stations.
  • Malcom Eberly - Though he only Appeared in Saturn and Titan, he played the leading role as a power-mad mastermind who brilliantly negotiated his way to the top of the government of Habitat Goddard.
  • Lars Fuchs - Champion of the Rock Rats, he is the Long-Term Nemesis of Martin Humphries, and was aboard the first manned ship to reach the Asteroid Belt. He was introduced as a nervous college student in The Precipice, and died in the clouds of Venus as a stone-cold, hateful captain of a renegade mongolian crew.
  • Martin Humphries - the ultimate antagonist of the Solar System, he is a cold-hearted, utterly oppresive and dominant ,multi-billionaire that destroys corporations in order to add more money to his massive hoarde. He was behind the death of Dan Randolf, created an aerospace industry just to thwart Astro Corporation when it was run by Pancho Lane, stole Lars Fuchs wife, Amanda Cunningham, and hoped that his "own" son would die in a self-righteous mission to Venus.
  • Pancho Lane - Playing a large role in The entire Asteroid Series, she was aboard the first manned-ship to reach the Asteroid Belt, acted as the guardian of her sister, Holly Lane, who became the main character of Saturn and Titan. Pancho herself was a large part of the novel Titan, and appeared several times throughout the Grand Tour, following The Precipice, where she first appeared.
  • Dan Randolf - protagonist in Powersat and the Precipice, creator of Astro Corp. He was arguably the ignition for the entire Grand Tour
  • Douglas Stavenger - Founder and leader of Selene, a self-sufficient country on the Moon. He was injected with experimental, general-purpose, healing nanomachines after a massive overdose of radiation, and thus could not return to Earth for fear of assassination by The New Morality. He appeared in Moonrise, was a prime protagonist in Moonwar and continued to have a say in many off-earth affairs well into the Asteroid Series.
  • Raoul Tavalera - appearing in Jupiter, Saturn and Titan, he played several quiet, backstage roles, seemingly always finding himself caught in the worst situations.
  • Jane Thornton - Appeared in Powersat and Empire Builders mentioned in other books, wife of Morgan Scanwell and love interest of Dan Randolph. She eventually becomes President of the United States.
  • Jamie Waterman - An underdog Native American geologist who became the understood leader of all things related to Mars, acting as the glorious protagonist of the three "Mars" novels.

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