Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Titan new cover Titan (1979)

1980 Hugo and Nebula award nominee
Book one of the Gaean trilogy
Interior illustrations by Freff

Current Ace paperback - 309 pages
Cover art by Todd Cameron Hamilton (left)

Berkley 1980 paperback - 309 pages
Cover design by Tony Russo (right)
Titan orginal paperback

"Titan: The Alien that is, itself, a world"

From the back cover of the new paperback:
       John Varley's monumental trilogy -- Titan, Wizard, and Demon ...begins with humankind's exploration of a massive satellite orbiting Saturn.  It culminates in a shocking discovery: The satellite is a giant alien being.  Her name is Gaea.  Her awesome interior is mind boggling.  Because it is a mind.  A mind that calls out to explorers...and transforms all who enter.

From the inside cover of the book club edition:
       In Titan, Varley has embarked on a masterwork, the creation of Gaea, the Titan, an astronomically huge creature in orbit around the planet Saturn.  Captain Cirocco "Rocky"  Jones and her crew soon realize that the awesome object they have found can only be an artifact of alien intelligence.  Abandoning all previous plans, the Ringmaster sets about investigating the enormous wheel shaped structure.  But before they even have a chance to establish orbit around it, Gaea send out tentacles, pulls the Ringmaster apart, and draws the crew deep inside its bowels.  There they remain, isolated from one another, in a state of near total sensory deprivation, while Gaea works her mysteries on their minds.
       After an unknown period of time, Rocky and her crew are disgorged into the Titan's incredible internal world - an organic kaleidoscope of a fairyland which they share with centaurs, harpies, angels, mudfish, not quite kangaroos, whalelike things that sail through the sky and other indescribable products of a Disneyesque imagination.  Though this world seems benign, almost a paradise, Rocky is too well trained to accept it at face value.  And too curious.  She sets about to find her crew, re establish her command, and find what makes Gaea tick.
       Rocky's story is an odyssey through this unpredictable world, a trip fraught with unexpected dangers and dazzling discoveries, leading her ultimately to the intelligence that presides over Gaea.

Read for group discussion on November 14, 2001

The Gaian (or Gaean) series continues with the books Wizard (1980) and Demon (1984).

Titan book club edition More cover art

Book club Edition (BCE)
cover art by Ron Walotsky
277 pages (left)

Analog magazine - January 1979
featuring Titan by John Varley
Cover art by Paul Lehr (right)
Analog Jan 1979 - Titan

How we each rated this book
Dan 9 Amy 9 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb 8
Aaron 8 Cynthia 4
Jackie 8 Ron 8

Our book group has also read the following books by John Varley:
-- Steel Beach   in September 1997

John Varley (1947-    ) is a US writer of science fiction short stories and novels.  His first SF publication was in 1974 in F&SF with "Picnic on Nearside".  He was one of the most significant new writers of 1970s.  His works are imaginative and complex.

Awards (All for short fiction):
1978 Nebula Award for novella "The Persistence of Vision"
1979 Hugo Award for novella "The Persistence of Vision"
1982 Hugo Award for best short story for "The Pusher"
1985 Nebula Award for best novella for "Press Enter[]"
1985 Hugo Award for best novella for "Press Enter[]"

John Varley's short fiction has been collected in The Persistence of Vision (1978) titled in the UK In the Hall of the Martian Kings (1978); The Barbie Murders (1980) alternate title Picnic on Nearside (1984); Blue Champagne (1986); and The John Varley Reader: Thirty Years of Short Fiction (2004).  Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo (1989) is a chapbook with a story from Blue Champagne.

His first novel, The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977) is set 500 years in the future when humans are bioengineered and cloned, and social and sexual customs have changed.

The Gaean series Titan (1979), Wizard (1980), and Demon (1984) begins with a mission to Saturn but turns almost into a fantasy when the female protagonists find a pocket universe with unusual species and intelligences on Titan.

Millennium (1982), which was made into a movie in 1979 staring Kris Kristofferson, Cheryl Ladd, and Daniel J. Travanti, is a time travel thriller in which accident victims are abducted moments before their deaths and taken to the future.  It was based on the story "Air Raid" which Varley published as Herb Boehm.

Steel Beach (1992), which was a Hugo award nominee, takes place in Varley's eight worlds universe, the setting of many of his stories.  The Golden Globe (1998), set in the same universe, won the 1999 Prometheus Award for the best libertarian science fiction novel of the year.

Red Thunder (2003) is about an unconventional mission to Mars.  It's a tribute to Heinlein's juveniles of the 1950's.  Other books in this series are Red Lightning (2006) and Rolling Thunder (2008).

Mammoth (2005) is a book involving ecology and time travel.

Varley edited with Ricia Mainhardt the anthology Superheroes (1995), which contains short stories about all-new cartoon heroes.

Our book club's page for Steel Beach by John Varley
John Varley - Wikipedia
The SF Site Review of The Golden Globe
The John Varley Site
Xero magazine: Interview with John Varley
The Official Website of John Varley
Locus Online: John Varley interview excerpts (2004)

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This page was last updated October 27, 2008