REVIEW: Titan – Kate Rauner

Titan - Kate Rauner

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Hard, Colonization

Reviewer: H.L.

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About The Book

A hijacked spaceship… 
kidnapped colonists… 
their destiny changed forever 

Award-winning first book of the Titan trilogy follows a family whose torn loyalties threaten doom on a strange world that real-life science has only begun to explore. 

What if you awoke on a shadowy moon where water freezes as hard as granite and lakes fill with liquid methane? On Titan, a bizarre cult seeks utopia, but what will be different on this distant world? 

Real readers say: Dynamic story – Engaging characters – Feel like you were there – Devoured this book 

Discover a riveting mix of science and society on Saturn’s deadly frozen moon. If you love gripping science fiction with twists and turns, you won’t want to put it down. 

The Review

Fynn Rupar is surprised when his sister brings him on board the Herschel – not a science vessel, as everyone was led to believe, but a colony ship destined for Saturn’s moon Titan, which his people have commandeered and stolen. Fynn is more than a little hurt that his family kept this secret 18-month one-way trip from him – but he’s spent his entire life with the Kin and is excited to contribute his skills and passion to this ambitious project when he wakes from stasis.

But setting up a colony isn’t easy, and of course, things start to go wrong. Several passengers have died en-route; systems are malfunctioning, and Fynn knows that unless they become self-sufficient, they won’t survive. The Kin’s charismatic leader, Dr Tanaka, refuses to contact the “mongrels” on Earth for assistance, and each new disaster is quickly twisted to his increasingly unhinged agenda, imposing fear and spreading mistrust amongst his fanatic followers.

What beings as a seemingly standard sci-fi tale of a group of humans attempting to colonise Titan is steadily revealed to in fact be an unnerving psychological thriller.

The author makes excellent use of the premise. The readers are as clueless as Fynn at the beginning, but we get the sense that something is off very quickly when his sister refers to “mongrels” he studied with at university, and we begin to realise that Fynn is in fact in a cult led by a man who believes in the genetic superiority of people who originated from the Indus Valley, evoking allusions to the Nazi Party. 
What begins as discomfort evolves into horror as Dr Tanaka becomes more and more unhinged. His loyal followers cling to his rhetoric, while those who are beginning to question are quickly and swiftly punished, dividing the already-vulnerable colony. Friends turn on friends and family turns on family in this claustrophobic setting reminiscent of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”. 

There are multiple POV characters – Fynn, his sister Maliah, their parents Yash Rupar and Greta Lund, and Drew, Fynn’s childhood friend. The vast cast doesn’t allow us much time to get to know the individual characters and I struggled to connect on a personal level with any of them, but through their eyes we can see the different aspects of the colony on Titan breaking down under the despotic rule of their cult leader. Some of the characters feel what we feel, dread and the unfolding breakdown of society; others get sucked even deeper into the cult’s rhetoric, blind to the problems, devoted to the delusions, and addicted to the power.

The initial pacing felt a bit rushed, but as the story progressed it became more flowing. The choice to focus less on heavy sci-fi talk and instead more on the dynamics of the society was an excellent one, which allowed for the steady build of dread with every chapter and incident. I was engaged and on the edge of my seat the entire time. 

Titan has an ambitious premise, and Kate Rauner delivers with this well-constructed and tense tale of science and rational thought failing when dogma and doctrine rule. There are two more books in the series, and I look forward to seeing how Fynn’s story continues.

The Reviewer

H. L. is a Jewish Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.

She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.

She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.   

 

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