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Seeding the universe,
This review is from: Titan (Paperback)‘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 another alternate history novel transforming the post-Cold War decline of the Space Age into a last ditch attempt to land human’s on another world, only this time with Saturn’s moon Titan being the destination rather than Mars. Where ‘Voyage’ was a fairly restrained and believable alternate history however, ‘Titan’ is far more ambitious, taking in a war between the West and China and ultimately climaxing with such exotic fare as alien life billions of years in the future. Unfortunately however the novel is not entirely convincing: Baxter’s true love is in the technical details of the astronauts mission to Titan, and correspondingly this aspect of the novel is the most richly developed, but Baxter’s near-future Earth never receives the same level of attention, with the result that such massive events as the USA regressing into a new anti-scientific Middle Ages and the subsequent war with China seem exaggerated and unbelievable. There are plenty of great moments in ‘Titan’ to keep the reader interested - particular highlights include the opening sequence where a standard shuttle re-entry turns into a disaster; the rivalry between NASA and the US airforce breaking out into outright violence with the attempted destruction of the Titan mission; and the sad fate of the last of the Moon-walkers as their senility confuses a nursing home with a space mission – but these are evened out by Baxter’s often very dry hard SF sequences which will only really be enjoyed by tech-heads or NASA employee’s.
‘Titan’ is a good book, but with a little change of emphasis I felt it could have been a great one. As it is, despite the more exotic SF trappings, I found this slightly less compelling than the very similar ‘Voyage’.