Reviews of Titan (1979)
Review by clong (2006-01-11)
This is an interesting book. It starts out like a traditional Big Dumb Object book, but over time we start to realize that there is more to the object than initially meets the eye. And then in the end it morphs into a sort of Greek Mythology meets The Wizard of Oz pastiche.
Much of the book is spent exploring Gaea, and I found this to be the best part of the book (more so, for example, than the comparable storyline in Rendezvous with Rama). Varley populates Gaea with an intriguing mix of flora and fauna, intelligent alien species, varied topography and massive mechanical constructs. The maps were very helpful and the illustrations were marginally helpful.
I found the characters and how they interact to be somewhat superficial, especially the men, who are one dimensional. I had a hard time developing much empathy for the protagonist, but by the end I genuinely cared about what happened to Cirocco and her sidekick Gabby. There was plenty of gratuitous sex, but at least it wasn't offensive (although the idea that the captain of ship would have "relationships" with every opposite sex crew member on the ship is a bit appalling).
Review by blueworld (2004-08-29)
Human scientists seeking to study one of Jupiter's moons come across a strange, huge object in space. Captured by it, they find themselves separated in a world of both wonder and peril. This is mostly a story of world exploration, but as the explorers go about their personal quests they begin to uncover the deeper strangeness of Gaia. Titan is a story both imaginative and well crafted, a real little gem. Varley gets extra props for inventing the Titanides, aliens with the most bizarre and inventive reproductive system I've ever encountered in science fiction.