Titan Alpha has landed: the most complex man-made object to reach Saturn's largest moon. The ten thousand men and women of Habitat Goddard are once more at the frontier of science. From their huge, artificial paradise hanging in orbit above Saturn, some of them dream of landing on Titan's surface. Others will do anything to prevent such a landing. And yet others have darker, secret plans. But almost immediately, Titan Alpha goes silent. And minor, inexplicable faults start to affect Goddard. Is there a basic design flaw that could threaten the lives of everyone on board? Or has one of the many malcontents exiled to space decided to sabotage the probe or even the whole expedition? The newest chapter in Ben Bova's epic of space exploration brings to vivid, awe-inspiring life a barren world of swirling smog, frozen methane seas - and perhaps even a new sentient life form.
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.