Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Titan (Gaea, #1)” as Want to Read:
Titan (Gaea, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Titan

(Gaea Trilogy #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,904 ratings  ·  309 reviews
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, transforming all who enter.
Paperback, 309 pages
Published April 15th 1987 by Ace (first published March 1979)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Titan, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Altivo Overo I would recommend the book for teens, yes. One or two of the technological elements are dated, but it's still quite approachable. There is sexual innu…moreI would recommend the book for teens, yes. One or two of the technological elements are dated, but it's still quite approachable. There is sexual innuendo in all books of the series, but it is secondary to the story and explicit only in the sense that the rather complicated mating behaviors of the Titanides form an element of the plot. Each of them has as many as four parents.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,904 ratings  ·  309 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Titan (Gaea, #1)
Clouds

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and beca
...more
Bradley
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Titan is a rather surprising and accomplished find among ANY SF collection. There's a lot of imagination and world-building stuffed in these pages. I'd say it's better than Farmer's Riverworld series, but since I hadn't read them all, I can't say for sure.

Here are the really cool bits: Varley literally builds a world with a vast intelligence playing god within it. I was reminded of Bear's Eon at first until I realized that Titan came first and the whole tunnel of alternate dimensions doesn't sh
...more
Stephen
1.5 stars. An okay story but after reading Varley's Ophiuchi Hotline, this was a big let down. Definitely a product of the 70's and I found the "free love" aspect of the novel a bit tedious. I will say that the concept of Gaia was very interesting and some of the alien characters original. The problem for me was that I found all of the human characters boring.

Nominee: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Nominee: Nebula Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Winner: Locus Award Best Scie
...more
Terence
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
While it's true that I have plenty of never-before-read fiction on the To Read shelf, I've been hankering recently to reread this series, one of my favorites.

Not only does it have one of my favorite characters - Cirocco Jones, subsequently the Wizard of Gaea - but also one of my favorite alien races - the Titanides:

(view spoiler)

(Which image I've hidden in a spoiler because some readers might find Titanide dressing conventions pornographic.)

See my review of the entire trilog
...more
Cheryl
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Check out that crazy dreamy cover by someone named Freff from 1979. I guess I could have read this when it was new, if I weren't still enjoying children's books as a teen, and if my small-town library had it. Well, better late than never... hope it lives up to its reputation....
-----------
The interior illustrations are pretty cool, too. And it's not all that crazy; it's actually pretty accurate. Varley explores a lot of ideas here, about feminism, and free love, and quests, and aliens, and gods.
...more
Charles
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Generally considered SF, this book has a lot of fantasy in it. It's full of interesting ideas and well written. Definitely worth the read.
Stephanie
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A fantastic book that should not be judged until all three books in the trilogy have been digested. This book lays the foundation for the two to come. This epic trilogy was the first thing I thought of when I saw the previews to the movie Avatar and I was so bummed when I realized that I was not looking at the broad face of a Titanide, but another creature from another story. If this trilogy is ever put on the big screen, I hope they stay true to the tone of the books, dont remove or dumb down a ...more
Nathan Buchanan
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Books like this are why sci-fi rides the short bus of literary culture. It has some great ideas and is in a way a tremendous "page turner", but ultimately fails thanks to weak writing and weaker characters. This was the first time in a LONG while I've though "why the hell am I reading this" as I plowed through a book.

For the most part I love all kinds of entertainment (from RPGs to movies) with the detailed underpinnings of top notch world building. I've seen Varley's Gaea books referenced numbe
...more
Paul Baker
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Spoiler Alert!

Titan, by John Varley, is an amazing science fiction book, the first one in the Gaea Trilogy, and it deserves a place among the 100 best science fiction books of all time.

John Varley has had my attention ever since I ran into The Persistence of Vision many years ago. In that collection of short stories, I was awestruck with his creativity and unique approach to science fiction. Each story was challenging, innovative and showed new ways of thinking about old problems.

Although Titan
...more
Stephen
1.5 stars. An okay story but after reading Varley's Ophiuchi Hotline, this was a big let down. Definitely a product of the 70's and I found the "free love" aspect of the novel a bit tedious. I will say that the concept of Gaia was very interesting and some of the alien characters original. The problem for me was that I found all of the human characters boring.

Nominee: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Nominee: Nebula Award Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Winner: Locus Award Best Sc
...more
Jacob
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I try to avoid writing negative reviews. However this book seems more an attempt by the author to explore his own sexual fantasies than an attempt to tell a SciFi story. Yet that isn't the most ridiculous part of this story. How many pages are devoted to Centaurs' genitalia isn't even the most ridiculous part. No the most ridiculous part is: NO ONE IS EXCITED THAT THEY ENCOUNTERED ALIENS. To each their own. I'll say that Rocky was a cool character, but this book overall was a disappointment.

But
...more
Wanda
"A scientific expedition to the planet Saturn in 2025, aboard the ship Ringmaster, discovers a strange satellite in orbit around the planet. Commanding the ship is Cirocco Jones, a tall NASA career woman, aided by astronomer Gaby Plauget, the clone twin physicists April and August Polo, pilot Eugene Springfield, physician Calvin Greene and engineer Bill (whose last name is never given).

As they reach the satellite they realize it is a huge hollow torus habitat. Before they can report this the shi
...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-love-this-book
This book is GOOD! I love it. I need to read it again!

And so I did. It's still good. This book is full of strong, interesting female characters. Sex. Fascinating aliens.

The Titanides are awesome. I don't think I'd mind being one. They sing a lot and have several genitals which is pretty cool. Their names are chords. There's blimps and angels. Nothing is as you totally expect it to be. It takes a while for it to go from space ship lingo to, whoa. WTF? How interesting!

This guy goes well with Oct
...more
Judy
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes sci-fi
Recommended to Judy by: sci-fi book club
This is book 1 of one of my very favorite sci-fi trilogies. Once I discovered them, in about 1980, I devoured them as quickly as possible, losing sleep so that I could keep reading. I went on to read everything else written by John Varley, and have never been disappointed. If you want a quick idea of what his writing is like without committing to a trilogy, try "The Barbie Murders" or "The Persistence of Vision" -- these are short stories.
Derek
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book didn't grab me: I was about 100 pages from the end and realized that I honestly didn't care what happened. Part of the problem was that I had already pigeonholed it as sort of a Rendezvous with Rama or Ringworld (exploration of a Big Dumb Object by an underprepared away team) by way of Philip José Farmer. Once it was categorized, all the magic was gone.

I didn't particularly hate it, but felt that finishing it was pointless. I was not enthralled by the characters, the exploration of the
...more
Erik Graff
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Varley fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This was a bit of a disappointment after Varley's Ophiuchi Hotline. However, if you like a quest theme like that of Farmer's Riverworld series, then you may like this novel and the two which follow. I enjoyed the originality of this, the first, but found the latter two increasingly tedious.
Abra
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this trilogy by John Varley years ago -- I believe I read The Persistence of Vision first, during middle school, while off sick from school. In any case, I loved particularly how Varley wrote about gender. In general I prefer women authors, in any category (as will no doubt become plain over the course of this year's exercise in tracking my reading [and re-reading]), but Varley is one of the exceptions to that rule. He seems himself to be very interested in the mutability of gender as a c ...more
Eric
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is exactly the sort of book that turns new readers of science fiction away from the genre.

Is it a bad book? No, absolutely not. The issue is that it's got a relatively large number of pages devoted to the description of the rotation of a space ship and the angle of approach to a nearby object. Combining that description with sex might work for some, but I suspect that readers that don't already have a decent grounding in science fiction will turn away.

I found the characters very difficult t
...more
Mathew
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve read quite a lot of John Varley, and one thing you can generally count on is a somewhat gratuitous weird sex scene, often in zero gravity. “Titan” does not disappoint, basically starting out with the zero G sex as if wanting to get it out of the way so the plot can start. Varley was once described as the new Heinlein, but while Heinlein's politics tended to the crypto-fascist and his female characters always seem like objects to be analyzed by the male gaze, Varley is more of an unrepentant ...more
Mitch
Oct 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-2019
3.0 Stars
A solid but forgettable Big Dumb Object adventure that really feels it's age.
Jam
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
It was surprisingly fun to read. I thought it would be difficulty since I had started to read it several times already, but never got past the first few pages. The beginning of the book is a bit hard to get interested, however, I finally stuck to my guns and kept on reading past the first chapter. After that, it was easier.

The book is about a world called Gaea. It was discovered by humans to be an artificial world, so they sent a spaceship to investigate it. They got more than they bargained fo
...more
Michael
250515 from ??? childhood: new review. many, many years (decades...) since i read this as teen, probably was 15, but my memory of it is mostly accurate. i read this just when i was beginning to read big books of lit and classics like 1984- but when i look at it now, read it now, i pick up more of his references to, allusions to, outright thefts from other sf works... and maybe a better understanding of his gender conflicts...

this is good, for, as the man says, it is not where you take things fro
...more
Ian G
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
3.8 ⭐

This is John Varley's science fiction take on "The Wizard of Oz." It's not a yellow brick road that our Dorothy (aka Captain Cirocco Jones) follows through the alien habitat known as Gaea but rather a convoluted trail through a biologically engineered mix of landscapes and life forms.

Varley has more fun in the Gaea novels than in his later, more pessimistic and polemical books. Inventive and sufficiently interesting to make you want to finish the story, it's a fine old piece of space opera.
...more
York
A solid 3.5 star story,...easy to read...a bit more towards science fantasy and less science fiction...want to continue the series...
Cfabrication
I like this less than I thought I would, but, at the end, I liked it a bit better than I had while reading.

There's a style of ScFi book that's a bit like a travelogue through an invented world. The Integral Trees, which I didn't finish felt like this, Ringworld, and I think I'd put Riverworld in this category too.

I loved the novelty of them when I read them in my teens and twenties, now I feel a lack of character development. Mr. Rogers, in an interview before Congress, talks about 'the dramas
...more
Jon Norimann
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Titan is about 4 hours of reading about humans first contact with aliens. It starts well but Varley soon introduces too much magic for my taste. The storyline follows a logical path at a reasonable pace, despite some long rather pointless parts mostly about man vs different climates. The end is fair enough. The science is mostly realistic but not innovative. The politics is limited.

All in all a decent novel but it doesnt improve on similar classics like Ringworld or Rendezvous with Rama to whic
...more
Sean O
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books I read back when it came out and then let sit on my shelf for a couple of decades.

I did the same thing with Dune, Silverberg’s Majipoor
Chronicles, and other books of that era.

There were somethings I remember, like the centaur-like Titanides, And a lot of stuff I didn’t.

It’s a good book, and I’m interested in reading the next two novels if they ever come out cheap on the Kindle. I’m pretty sure I’ve tossed the old paperbacks I owned.

Good classic Sci-Fi. It hasn’t ag
...more
Angus McKeogh
Apr 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Uh...no. Stupid. Just plain stupid. Terrible story. Premise starts as a newly discovered moon around Saturn. Explorers sent to check it out. Great. Thereafter...uh...moons end up being regional gods who speak while singing and battle with angels. A whole lot about landscapes as bodies, centaurs, and giant human penises. Uh...so stupid. I do not recommend this book.
Tiara
3.5 stars. During an exploration expedition to the planet Saturn, Cirocco “Rocky” Jones–captain of the space vessel, Ringmaster–and her crew encounter an anomalous satellite revolving around the planet. The closer they get to the anomaly, the more they begin to realize that it’s actually a habitat of some sort. While trying to report their findings back to NASA, they are pulled into the satellite. The Ringmaster is destroyed, and Cirocco and her crew are rendered unconscious.

After spending some
...more
Magdelanye
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
It's been quite a while since I was blown away by this series which has me wondering how it has weathered. Giving it a 4 for how I remember feeling after reading
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Split Infinity (Apprentice Adept, #1)
  • The Engines of God (The Academy #1)
  • The Illuminatus! Trilogy
  • Hidden Empire (The Saga of Seven Suns, #1)
  • The Crucible of Time
  • Glory Road
  • The Nonborn King (Saga of the Pliocene Exile, #3)
  • The Adversary (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #4)
  • Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
  • Inherit the Stars (Giants, #1)
  • House Atreides (Prelude to Dune #1)
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld, #1)
  • Lord Valentine's Castle (Lord Valentine, #1)
  • Jack the Bodiless (Galactic Milieu Trilogy #1)
  • The Many-Coloured Land (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #1)
  • Majipoor Chronicles (Lord Valentine, #2)
  • There Before the Chaos (The Farian War, #1)
  • Saturn's Children (Freyaverse #1)
See similar books…
459 followers
Full name: John Herbert Varley.

John Varley was born in Austin, Texas. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, moved to Port Arthur in 1957, and graduated from Nederland High School. He went to Michigan State University.

He has written several novels and numerous short stories.He has received both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Other books in the series

Gaea Trilogy (3 books)
  • Wizard (Gaea, #2)
  • Demon (Gaea, #3)

Related Articles

If you love the fantasy genre, this is the season for you! Some of the biggest books out this fall promise to be epics full of magic, adventure,...
167 likes · 43 comments
“Cirocco liked space, reading, and sex, not necessarily in that order. She had never been able to satisfactorily combine all three, but two was not bad.” 5 likes
“Bill’s tongue had started at Cirocco’s toes and was now exploring her left ear. She liked that. It had been a memorable journey.” 3 likes
More quotes…