Titan Alpha has landed: the most complex man-made object to reach Saturn's largest moon. The ten thousand men and women of Habitat Goddard are once more at the frontier of science.
From their huge, artificial paradise hanging in orbit above Saturn, some of them dream of landing on Titan's surface. Others will do anything to prevent such a landing. And yet others have darker, secret plans. But almost immediately, Titan Alpha goes silent. And minor, inexplicable faults start to affect Goddard. Is there a basic design flaw that could threaten the lives of everyone on board? Or has one of the many malcontents exiled to space decided to sabotage the probe or even the whole expedition?The newest chapter in Ben Bova's epic of space exploration brings to vivid, awe-inspiring life a barren world of swirling smog, frozen methane seas - and perhaps even a new sentient life form.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 19/06/2006
- Category: Science fiction
- ISBN: 9780340823972
- EPUB from £1.99
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Review by BillHall
Titan tells the story of the first year after a several km long cylindrical habitat populated by 10,000 scientists and dissidents from a fundamentalist Earth was put into orbit arount Titan to explore its surface. The story begins when the egomaniacal chief scientist lands a large tracked autonomous probe on the surface of Titan, and the probe immediately stops uploading the data it is collecting. The book follows the interactions of several main characters including the power-hungry Chief Administrator, the retired director of a large space-flight company, her sister who was resurrected after she died of cancer and was then held cryogenically until the technology was available to cure her, a professional stunt-man pilot, and a few other engineers and scientists.Ben Bova may be a good editor, but I found Titan to be a rather clunky book to read. The material was good, but the result was quite disappointing. I read Sci-Fi for to see ideas explored, and to be entertained. Bova's characters were at best cardboard stereotypes and all too predictable. His sense of place was greatly marred by failures to properly manage the detail. For example, his habitat is a rotating cylinder, where the rotation gives the effect of gravity on the inside surface, yet he has characters working in the end caps or on the outer surface at normal gravity. Much play was made of the fact that the habitat was illuminated by solar light beamed by mirrors into the central spaces of the habitat. Given the much greater distance from the sun and the corresponding weakness of the light, comparatively small mirrors seemed to suffice to provide Earth-normal daylight.On the whole, the book was almost bad enough to be trashed without finishing it. A disappointment given the high cost of paperbacks in Australia ($23.00)