cover image Titan


Ben Bova, . . Tor, $24.95 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0413-1

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.)