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  • Titan
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 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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on 26 August 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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on 25 March 2007
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 challenges, the spirit of adventure, the awe at human endeavour and big engineering...

But Titan was, ultimateley, just a little too depressing. Ignoring the final chapter, which some have criticised as far too improbable, the rest of the book is an essay in how to detach humanity from human exploration.

While all of it is, of course, possible, I felt while reading it that it was never going to end well. That there was to be no redemption.

This may, in the future, be the case. But I felt that, as entertainment, it didn't have that spark of hope that makes his other books so brilliant.

I get the feeling that the book originally ended before the final chapter, which would only have been added when an editor said that it might turn into another Catcher In The Rye!
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on 16 February 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. Personally, I would have liked the characters of Siobhan and Niki, two of the crew, to have been more fully drawn. And it is not clear what purpose the fifth crew member really served, except for a dramatic but unecessary scene on Titan. These are quibbles.

Obama's recent real-life revision of the space programme, incidentally, is neutral in terms of how the book's events unfold. One thing that is different is Obama's election itself in 2008, rather than the Christian-fundamentalist backwoods conservative of the novel. So at least we have avoided that fate - or is it just postponed?

Baxter followers will need no encouragement. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in current spaceflight, near future speculation or just a damn good SF adventure.
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on 8 July 2016
So very well written, really easy to be with the characters in the plot; but I haven't read such a depressing and doom laden book for decades. It was a relief to finish it so I could begin to feel happy again.
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on 10 October 2003
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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on 19 July 2015
New to these scifi soap opera type books - but you know what this is a good story of a possible voyage to Titan and the human issues, it starts with NASA Apollo and Gemini, and some world politics yes the book is long read nearly 600 pages but it reflects the preperation and 7year voyage to Titan, it is not over the top with space terms, I will give the authors other books a try now from Amazon. I hope Amazon decide to publish this review which I think is fair.
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on 4 July 2004
"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. The basic concept of adapting the dregs of the Shuttle fleet for a manned leap to Titan is an excellent idea and technically correct in all its details. Baxter's near-future political analysis is depressing but reasonably close to the mark - except instead of winding up NASA after a Shuttle stack, NASA is being "revamped". Baxter didn't see that one coming. He also fudges minor details - especially the flight time-table being copied directly from the Cassini probe's mission - but that's Baxter usually. However, contrary to alot of reviews here I really found the first novel section to be rather irritating and the protagonists unbelievable. The faeces-gnawing masters student was funny though.
The final sequence, on far-future Titan, was an incredibly evocative piece and well-worth the book. His science was impeccable and eeriely paralleled by geophysical studies published a year later. Baxter has also written a companion novella for that sequence, collected in his "Phase Space" anthology. The rest, while a worthwhile warning against isolationism, was not a keeper.
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on 30 March 2015
Good book, well written-manages to be plausible (just!), I like the way Stephen Baxter used technology we can relate to, giving Titan a good grounding in reality ( as much as a mission to Titan could be 'real'...). Did slightly prefer 'Voyage', but Titan is still a great book
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on 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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