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Titan [Paperback]

Stephen Baxter
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Aug 1998

2004: NASA’s Cassini probe reaches Saturn – and the story of Titan begins.

Titan is the epic saga of one woman’s will to succeed and the triumph of a dream over bureaucracy and fear. Paula Benacerraf, grandmother and astronaut, is appointed to oversee the dismantling of the Shuttle fleet after another Challenger-type disaster. Instead, she listens to the oddball JPL scientist Rosenberg, who is determined to explore the ammonia-based life Cassini discovers on Titan.

Using NASA’s rusting Saturn rockets, mothballed Apollos and remaining Shuttles, frail humans are hurled, in the face of violent opposition from the military, to the edge of the Solar System. To the edge, also, of sanity.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; New Ed edition (3 Aug 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006498116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006498117
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 11.2 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.

Here are the Destiny's Children novels in series order:


Time's Tapestry novels in series order:

Navigator Weaver

Flood novels:


Time Odyssey series (with Arthur C Clarke):

Time's Eye

Manifold series:

Phase Space

Mammoth series:

Mammoth (aka Silverhair)
Long Tusk
Ice Bones

NASA trilogy:


Xeelee sequence:

Timelike Infinity
Vacuum Diagrams (linked short stories)
The Xeelee Omnibus (Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring)

The Web series for Young Adults:


Coming in 2010:

Stone Spring - book one of the Northland series

Product Description

Amazon Review

Take some archetypal sci-fi characters (ageing moonwalker, several bright young astronauts and a dedicated but reclusive scientist), throw in the near future scenario of a declining space programme following a catastrophic fatal accident, mix well with some unusual plot twists and you have the foundations for Baxter's eighth novel.

Baxter novices may be wary of such a clichéd plot, but don't despair--his reputation as one of the UK's best sci-fi writers is well founded. Titan is an enjoyable novel, well-written, with just the right mixture of hard science fiction, strong characters and a believable, if undesirable, vision of the future. Reminiscent of 2001 and its sequel 2010, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of a declining world civilization. America is sinking into the mire of Christian fundamentalism and turning against technology, whilst a desperate NASA expends all it's remaining energy and resources on a manned mission to Titan--one- way--with the faint hope of reigniting the public's interest in space exploration. The mission is a technical success, but is ignored by the masses, leaving the astronauts stranded on the outskirts of the solar system with no hope of rescue.

But of course, that's not the end of the story… --Dave Mutton


‘Baxter handles a complex and gripping plot with his customary aplomb… The ending will blow your mind. Buy Titan, read it – and then go out and buy everything else that Baxter has ever written’
New Scientist

‘This is a tale of equivalent scope to 2001, while the visions of Titan life have that sense of Clarke-style cosmic sorrow’

‘A plausible tale of America’s last gasp at interplanetary exploration… Stephen Baxter proves what a cosmic thinker he is’
Washington Post Book World

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First Sentence
After seven years of flight, after traveling a billion miles from Earth, the human spacecraft Cassini reached Saturn. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prescient 10 Oct 2003
By A Customer
A shuttle crash, disquiet about spending money on space exploration, a right-wing fundamentalist president, China set to launch its first manned mission ....
Sound familiar? All in here - and a great story tacked on too. Baxter on top form - how did he guess it all?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good sci-fi - but too long 26 Aug 2012
On the whole I enjoyed Titan, and enjoyed it enough to seek out other books by Stephen Baxter. I thought the characters were on the whole well-done, especially Benacerraf - who comes across as human, believable but flawed. The premise of the story was interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed both the start and the end. The opening - with a failed mission - was dramatic, and the rise of a right-wing President provides a compelling and totally believable running story throughout the novel, as does China's attempts to enter the space-race. I have to admit though that the book felt too-long, and some of the "science" was just - for me - a bit too detailed and boring, and I skim-read large passages of this.

However, it was thoughtful and intelligent sci-fi and much of it was compelling reading - I'd recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Requiem For A Space Programme 16 Feb 2010
Reading this novel, thirteen years after it was written and about halfway into the period in which it is set, Baxter's jaundiced view of the immediate future of manned space flight is an absorbing read.

The book combines Baxter's strengths. His clear and engaging prose is deployed to demonstrate his ubergeek knowledge of US space hardware, his fascination with the bureaucracy of NASA and his pessimism at the direction of global geopolitics. The result is an enthralling and unnerving story.

The concept of the novel is that, faced with the shutdown of the manned spaceflight programme (and much else) and increasing popular disinterest in science, a group of NASA scientists put together a manned spaceflight to Titan using a Shuttle Orbiter, various Apollo leftovers and a couple of Russian nuclear reactors (no sign of Chekhov, though)as an alternative to simplyly scrapping them. The five astronauts set off on their six-year one-way mission, just ahead of being cancelled, but rapidly find themselves abandoned as the United States turns isolationist and rejects science.

There are some excellent set pieces, and Baxter manages his usual trick of explaining hard science concepts concisely and clearly. As ever, there are some nice touches - the expedition's leader finds herself en route to a place that her grandchildren are now taught does not exist; one of the astronauts is British-born, a possibility in 1997 but now, of course, a reality three times over.

The parallels with Arthur C Clarke are obvious, acknowleded and deliberate (In "2001", Discovery's original destination was Saturn, but was changed for the film).

As with any near future speculation, criticisms can be made, but none of consequence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dull, but gets better 29 July 2006
A group of five humans are sent on a one way trip to Titan, a moon of Saturn. Their ship is patched together from remnants of fifty years of space flight, and they leave Earth in face of violent opposition from the military. Trouble starts quite soon in the space ship and the crew get at odds with each other.

Meanwhile, back on Earth trouble is brewing and war breaks out, but that is not the worst of it...

The beginning of the book was complecated and slightly boring, but as the story progessed it got better, espesicially towards the end.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing future history.... 12 May 2002
This book is truely amazing. It provides an extraordinary view of a future.
Like in all his other books, Baxter covers a huge array of subjects all of great importance in the modern world; from distrust of science, the economic and foreign policy of the United States, the danger presented by a conservative domination of politics, the decline of the family, the destruction of the enviroment, the power of the military, the rise of China in the 21st century and most importantly the possiblities and necessities of space travel.
Overall Baxter presents his reader with a bleak and hugely detailed vision of the future, and the chnallenges and movements human beings will meet in the coming century. He is not optimistic for us, but right down in the core of the book there is a ray of hope, a vision reminding us that as long as we are still breathing, as long as the spark of life present on this planet still glows, there is still hope.
You could criticise the final chapters as sentimental and out of tone with the rest of the book, I would be inclined to disagree. I think instead that they reflect the hope present throughout the book, they show us the posibility of rebirth and a chance to start again. They also highlight the idea that Steven Baxter seems to hold most dearest, that all that is important is life, the continued existance of living things through colonisation of the stars.
Thus this book provides a lengthy, deep narative, with believeable well written characters. It discusses issues important to the modern world, but deep down it is a thesis, a guide, a set of instructions suggesting what must shorely be the right course for the future of the species.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the most depressing SciFi book I've ever read...
But that doesn't make it a bad read. Be warned all you astronaut wannabes however, you may rethink a trip to Titan after reading this book.
Published 4 months ago by M B Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read
It's simply riveting. Yes there are some parts that are heavily detailed and need full concentration but necessary if you are to be transported through the story and live it.
Published 5 months ago by Kelvin Mullings
5.0 out of 5 stars xcellent
Having already read this book i couldn't miss the chance to download out onto my Nexus 7 through the Kindle app. Read more
Published 14 months ago by JACC
4.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected....
Having never read a Stephen Baxter novel before, I was advised that "Titan" was a very good read. I had recently read Dale Brown's "Silver Tower" and was hungry for more NASA... Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2012 by Mr. D. J. Walford
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
The first time I read Titan it took me 3 days pretty solid effort, which is a long time for me. It could be hard work: sometimes the technical detail is overwhelming and can... Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2008 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars There's something missing
I love Baxter's writing when I want to immerse myself in a technical-type novel like Voyage. The combination of the messiness of politics and vested interests, the technological... Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2007 by A. Gordon
1.0 out of 5 stars Doom and Gloom
Titan is well written and certainly the first half of the book was gripping, however, I had to really battle to pick up this novel and finish it as the content slipped inexorably... Read more
Published on 14 July 2006 by Mr. N. Cartwright
5.0 out of 5 stars So you want to go to Titan ?
Well I've read a fair bit of SF in the last 30 years and seriously rate this one as truly excellent. Read more
Published on 10 April 2006 by Chris
3.0 out of 5 stars Seeding the universe
‘Titan’ shares a lot of similar ground with Baxter’s previous novel ‘Voyage’, in fact in many ways it can be seen as a variation on a theme, being... Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2006 by Jane Aland
3.0 out of 5 stars contra mundum
"Titan" is really a depressing near-future novel about a desparate attempt by NASA to stop a disillusioned USA vanishing up its own back-side. Read more
Published on 4 July 2004 by Mr A. Crowl
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