Ben Bova got the science right in this one, but he got the story wrong. Guess which one is more important?
Let's just go down the list.
- "The main character is unhappy" is not the same thing as "conflict".
- This is doubly true if your main character doesn't do anything. In Jupiter, there's one viewpoint character, Grant Archer. At no point in the story does he ever make a consequential decision, or take any initiative, or show any insight.
- That "conflict" thing also benefits if you decide who or what the antagonist is. There are man-vs.-man stories. There are man-vs.-nature stories. There are man-vs.-society stories. There are man-vs.-himself stories. Pick one. Be leery of picking more than one. Do not try bits of all four.
- Dangling plots are not your friend. If you spend precious words describing how Grant Archer is getting the hots for one of his co-workers, or interacting with a semi-intelligent gorilla, or doing Sciency Stuff, then you kinda want that to actually have some effect during the last third of the book.
- Page 316: "'My God', said Grant, 'they are intelligent." As a chapter ending, this is something less than a shocking revelation, since we readers have known this fact since page 74.
- The deus ex machina is no less a contrivance if the deus is a super-powered alien creature instead of a god.
- The cliche of Good Scientists/Bad Religious Fanatics is done now.
By the way, Jupiter has a more-than-trivial resemblance to Arthur C. Clarke's fine novella A Meeting With Medusa. Bova acknowledges the connection with a couple of textual bows, which is honorable him, but the comparison is not in Jupiter's favor.