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Titan (The Grand Tour) Hardcover – February 21, 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the latest planetary saga from Hugo-winner Bova (Mercury, etc.), the solidly hypothesized science enthralls, especially down on the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. On Christmas Eve 2095, the exploring vehicle Titan Alpha lumbers around that mysterious minus-183-degree Celsius world of black snow, seeking traces of life. Meanwhile, the human story—chiefly centered on the space habitat Goddard, in orbit above Saturn—lurches along as laboriously as Alpha, the tensions among the various stereotypical characters simmering fitfully but rarely coming to a savory boil. Chief scientist Edouard Urbain makes predictable compromises to save his brainchild, Alpha. Retired CEO and gee-whiz astronaut Pancho Lane takes off on a hairy deep-space jaunt to save Saturn's rings from exploitation from "slimy SOB" Malcolm Eberly, Goddard's power-hungry leader, once lover to Pancho's reborn sister, Holly. The novel resolves the many personal conflicts in a flurry of silly political maneuvers as old as Aristophanes'Lysistrata—bring 'em to heel by denying 'em sex—but the result is not half as entertaining or so thought provoking. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In 2095, the colony ship Goddard approaches Saturn's largest satellite, Titan, a prime candidate for settlement because of its -methane-rich atmosphere, a rich source of fuel for further exploration. Aboard are some 10,000 dissidents fleeing the theocratic rulers of Earth. Unfortunately, the first probe to Titan's surface drops out of communication, and the ship personnel's willingness to argue surfaces all over again. The arguments enmesh a large cast of characters, and hard-science champion Bovaaewhile dealing competently with all factions and opinionsaeshows a not-unexpected bias in favor of the scientists and astronauts among them. He also maintains a brisk pace as the narrative rises to a thunderous and even triumphant climax, which is appropriate inasmuch as Titan may be the last in Bova's stream of novels of solar system exploration that, beginning with Mars (1992) and continuing in Return to Mars (1999), Venus (2000), Jupiter (2001), Saturn (2003), and Mercury (2005), employs the latest scientific findings in forging a major work of both hard-science sf and space advocacy. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Series: The Grand Tour
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765304139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765304131
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've read all of the Planet Novels, and I was really excited to pick up Titan. However, I found the book a let-down. There are definitely some cool ideas in the book, and I like the hard science aspects, but the character development is so bad, it's laughable.

Every character in the story is a stereotype. You've got the stuntman who *must* go on that one last trip. You've got the slimy politician who does everything he can to control/manipulate others. The Head Scientist is nervous and on the verge of a nervous breakdown when his pet project goes awry. And let's not forget the slighted russian who will destroy everything just because he's a tool.

I like the occasional romance in a book, -- but I just couldn't get into the ones in Titan. The romances are a joke -- "Oh, do I stay with the woman I love, or go back to earth? Oh the humanity!" Or how about "How can I let the man I love go on one more mission?" Blech. And of course you have the stereotypical lovers not communicating well, and therefore so sad..

And don't get me started on the futuristic slang used in the book, which just consists of "talkin', thinkin' wonderin' etc" -- I didn't want to read "Yokel soap-opera in Space."

So why did I give the book a generous 2? Despite my dislike of the characters, the book was a fast, entertaining read, and the science aspect was cool.
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Format: Hardcover
Titan (2006) is the fifth SF novel in the Planet Novel Series, following Mercury, but is actually a direct sequel to Saturn, the third work in this series. In the prequel, Manuel Gaeta executes Leo Kananga for murder, attempted murder and torture. Malcolm Eberly, the newly elected chief administrator, then exiles Ruth Morgenthau and Sammi Vyborg as accessories to these crimes and as agents of fundamentalist groups plotting to take over the Goddard habitat.

In this novel, Pancho Lane comes to Goddard to reassure herself about her sister's health; Holly had been the subject of Kananga's torture and virtually every bone in her body had been broken. Luckily, Kris Cardenas had pumped her full of medical nanobots and she is healing nicely. Since she was already taking a torch ship to Saturn, Pancho invited a selection of VIPs from the news media and the International Consortium of Universities to accompany her.

The planetary scientists in the Goddard habitat send their first probe, Titan Alpha, to land on the largest moon of Saturn. All is well at first, but then the probe stops uplinking data to the habitat. Since the highest powers in the ICU are present within Goddard at the time, the chief scientist, Edouard Urbain, goes a little crazy at the failure.

Urbain puts his full staff on duty to search for the cause of the failure. The engineers confirm that the probe is still functional and that the uplink hardware is working well. Almost everybody on the team, including computer programmers, thinks the problem is software related. So many on the science staff are trying to diagnose the trouble that the planetary science operation center has to be covered by volunteers from other departments.
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Format: Hardcover
The scientific concepts behind this were very interesting. I loved the probe, the nanomachines, and speculation about the nature of life on Titan.

The stories of human relationships on the habitat, however, were really cheesy, and the characters were exaggerated in a way that made me think of old, low budget westerns or comic books.

Despite this, there is one delightful surprise toward the end that made the reading experience worth it.
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Format: Hardcover
Titan is certainly better than its prequel "Saturn" in which we were treated to the political maneuvering aboard a space colony of 10000 people on its way out to Saturn. This one was more like an extremely tedious soap opera than a science fiction novel.

Titan is a bit but not a lot better. The space colony has now reached Saturn and the scientists on board send a sophisticated probe to explore Titan which immediately falls silent. In the meantime one of the scientists wants to go out to the rings of Saturn to confirm the discovery of life in the ring particles but this is extremely dangerous. Why you wouldn't just send an unmanned probe out there I don't know as we are after all talking about the year 2095! Eberly, the administrator of the colony, wants to mine ice from the rings to act as a source of income for the colony but this wouldn't be allowed on environmental grounds if there was life. It therefore becomes a race to verify the life finding while Holly, the main heroine, runs against Eberly in an election for the administrator position on a platform of removing the zero population growth restriction in the colony.

The main reason that this novel is an improvement on Saturn is that there is a bit of tension introduced as we try and understand what's happened to the probe and there is also some reasonable science. It's mainly typical Bova stuff though with the usual unbelievable characters having their teenage romantic interactions and the resolution of the dangling threads in the story at the end is pretty lame(hey if we can't mine the rings why don't we just mine passing comets?). I don't know if Mr Bova has ever met any scientists but the scientists I know do not behave the way they do in this book.

Not bad as a comic book story but it doesn't meet my standards as a good science fiction novel. Writers like Alastair Reynolds and Peter Hamilton do this sort of thing much better.
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