It 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.
©1979 John Varley; (P)2008 Audible
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"A good if dated SciFi Story"
My apologies, I wrote my review on book 2 and meant it to be on book 1!
I read a lot of SciFi and this book was a good listen. The narrators voice was a bit difficult for me at first, but once I got used to her, she was actually a very good story teller. The book was written in 1979, so some of the themes are quite dated (The Soviet Union for example), however while dated, it was an entertaining read. I have just purchased the second book and will be listening to it right after I finish Neil Gaiman's latest book.
I've long been a fan of Varley's work and was thrilled to find they'd found a good *female* narrator for the Gaea trilogy. She handles the different "voices" of the different characters quite well, though after awhile the plainsong dialog of the Titanide language got on my nerves. I'm not sure how she could have given a vocal flavor otherwise, and it's densest in the first book before the Titanides learn English. So, that's really the only quite minor drawback.
The whole trilogy is excellently-written and this is quite a worthy performance.
"First of Varley's classic Gaean Trilogy"
Titan is the first part of the classic Gaea Trilogy which in my humble opinion is the Lord of the Rings of Sci-fi. Consider an insane goddess obsessed with Earth religions and Hollywood cinema who creates new kinds of creatures for her amusement and alleviates her boredom by dropping humans from bottomless elevators, offering miracles to pilgrims in return for heroics, and inciting thermonuclear wars. It has amorous blimps and submarines, holy zombies, smiling cattle, a giant Marilyn Monroe, and a story thread that would honor Joseph Campbell with the rise of the hero, the hero's fall, and the hero's redemption. I've long been convinced that Cirocco Jones must have been the inspiration for Alien's Ellen Ripley (although both appeared about the same time), and her partner Gaby the inspiration of Xena's Gabrielle. They're just too darn close. Of course I was thrilled when I spotted the series on Audible and I snatched it right up. I took a little time getting used to the narrator whose clean and even voice at first reminded me of an advanced text-to-speech program, but (except for giving Dulcimer an Irish accent... in the story I think it was supposed to be limited to the miracles line!) she has a comfortable voice and does fine work with the voices of Gaby, Cirrocco, and the others. Although the books can stand on their own, they work best taken sequentially with Titan giving the introductions, Wizard the tragedies, and Demon the triumphs. Titan starts the series a bit slowly, but Wizard and Demon are worth repeated reads. I recommend them.
"What a great story!"
This review covers the entire trilogy. In the past 20 years, I read the entire trilogy 3 times. I was so delighted when I discovered that Audible had recorded an unabridged version of all three books. I had never heard of the narrator before, but it only took me about a minute of listening to realize that no one else could have done a better job. Ms. Johnson read this book as if she positively loved it! I don't know if she did or not, but her tone of voice was so expressive, even when reading simple narration as opposed to conversation, that I had to think she was enjoying the reading of the books as much as I was enjoying the listening. I'm not going to provide any "spoiler alerts", but I do think that some things got a little bit over the top in Demon (Book 3). But I enjoyed a world in which there was a God that could actually be approached and who made some extremely interesting creatures. For the most part, the book was well-paced and the main characters and most of the minor ones were well-defined. I was sorry to see the series end. But it did end at an appropriate point. I know a book is good when I am glad to be in a traffic jam so that I can listen to more of it. And this book made me want to drive in rush hour all the time. I am definitely going to look for more books narrated by Ms. Johnson!
"SCIENCE FICTION AT IT'S BEST, FROM A MASTER!"
This story I read many years ago and loved it then so when I found it on Audible I was very excited. This is a classic from an old master, from the beginning days of Syfy we get the best of the travel to the stars and finding other races that are so original you would never in a million years expect what comes your way in this series! Gaia is a real person, she's not JUST A GODDESS! I found myself holding my breath as the story I read many years ago came to life again with this narrator. If you have ever dreamed of going to the stars....this series is for you. If you have not...this story is still for you! Everyone will relate to the beginning of a new journey...a fantastic journey!
"Loved it when I read it years ago"
And loved the entire series again in audio. The characters are compelling and the world of Gaea is inventive and the creatures Gaea made inspired by Earth movies are wonderful. The Titanides are centaurs with a complex reproductive system involving up to 4 parents and they are particularly appealing. They use the names of the Greek musical modes (Aeolian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian) coupled with the words "solo", "duet", "trio" or "quartet" to describe the number of parents the individual has, and the ways in which genetic material is transferred between them. They are also brightly colored with intricate patterns.
I never forgot the Titanides or the Blimps or Cirroco Jones from my early reading of the trilogy and it was great fun to relive the experience in the audio version.
"A Space Trilogy That Should Be Read. NOW."
Imagine a hollow living ringworld in our solar system, complete with an ecology, mythical centaurs, arians, biological aircraft, riddled with lesser gods, and with living earth references throughout, and run by an almost immortal and insane queen? Now throw in earth explorers that enter this world in the midst of a planet-wide war, and become pawns in a much bigger plan that...
There, enough. I red this in its first printing. All three books. And they're awesome. VERY different. Extremely unique. And at the same time, epic storytelling.
Between the excellent character development, strong plot lines, deep descriptive writing without being weighty, and zero boredom, this is definitely worth your time to listen.
John Varley has a solid body of work, but I consider this this series to be his crowning achievement.
Of course the story is a fabulous classic of Sci Fi adventure, but Allyson Johnson makes it so much fun! She is easy to listen to and her creative ideas of how to make you hear each character is truly wonderful!! You will really enjoy listening to this set of Varley classics as Ms Johnson's voice enhances the humor and adventure of the stories now put to voice so beautifully. Thank you Ms Johnson!!
"I am a fan of the entire series!"
I started from book one and followed through all the way to the end. The story kept my attention and I could not take the headphones off. A very good read!
"Opening Salvo in an Amazingly Inventive Trilogy"
After having read the print version of TITAN at least four times this story is to me very familiar. There was a time when we read Science Fiction for the world building alone, or at least I did anyway. Books like Niven’s RINGWORLD, Clarke’s RENDESVOUS WITH RAMA, are in the same category as TITAN. The difference is that TITAN has aged better; and what is more, it is the opening salvo in the amazingly inventive GAEAN TRILOGY. This first novel can be considered a prolog to the series which takes on a very different, and wonderful, character, and a more ominous tone, with the second book, WIZARD. This was my introduction to John Varley and the sense of wonder that it engendered in me as a youth still lingers. And while I am a very different reader these days, I can still recapture that wide-eyed glint I got the first time I read TITAN. If you have not experienced this novel I envy you, for you are about to relive a part of your childhood, or maybe partake in an experience from which you were deprived as a youngster.
Allyson Johnson's narration took me a few hours to warm to. Once I decided that her voice fit the character Gaby quite well, I was able to learn to like her, but it took some doing. I think that she made some questionable vocal choices for some characters. Johnson manages to find excellent voice characterizations for both Cirocco and Gaby. My chief complaint, and what proved to be the greatest obstacle in letting her voice into my head, is her choice to portray the supposedly lyrical musical voices of the mighty Titanides in a wispy monotone.
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