Titan by John Varley

Title: Titan
Author: John Varley
Published: 1979

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It’s hard to believe that “Titan” is over thirty years old. One of those books that I read on at least a yearly basis (along with “Wizard” and “Demon”), it remains eternally fresh, surprising, irreverent, and current.

The small crew of Ringmaster, finds itself captured by Gaea, an intelligence that is also the massive, torus world/satalite. Inside this creature, Cirocco Jones (aka Rocky) must find a way to the hub, 600 km straight up, in hopes of contacting earth for rescue. In the process she and her companions meet centaurs, angels, and a host of other beings straight out of an LSD rattled mind.

Okay, trying to describe this book in any way that makes it sound not totally ridiculous is almost impossible. At this point I just hand a copy to whomever I want to discover this astounding piece of fiction and merely say, “Read it. Please. Don’t read the back. Just… trust me.”

What I love so much about this book is how Varley manages to totally successfully meld science fiction and fantasy. Others have tried with what I would consider very poor results. (Heinlein’s effort “Glory Road” was a pretty dismal failure.)

The result of this breeding experiment is a magical world that delights the inner child and satisfies the hard science fiction lover alike. As a stand alone novel, it would have been unsatisfying due to so many loose threads, but don’t worry, all is explained and explored in the following two parts of the trilogy, “Wizard” and “Demon”.

Being John Varley, other key elements such as character development and descriptive prose are handled adroitly. As an early work, it lacks some polish and the pacing is occassionally inconsistant, but nothing that seriously detracts from the novel overall.

This is a gem that is close to being a classic in age that never seems aged. Arguably the most imaginative novel ever written in science fiction, if you can get over the outlandish sounding synopsis, you will be amazed. Trust me. Please. Just read it.

Lisa K. Dec. 22, 2012

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