what to see on
titan

For a scenic browse, and an answer-page for Guess The World...

grounded on titan

...Jagged cones of possible volcanic origin formed a low range of foothills, with a pass leading to the region beyond.  Dunes of fluffy material like volcanic tuff dotted the near landscape. 

This and other reports were exchanged between the lifeboats.  Presently a complete picture began to appear.  It was even more favorable than that suggested by Murray's notes.  The thin atmosphere was largely nitrogen, helium and oxygen, with indications of negligible amounts of other gases in unstable equilibrium.  Methane was present in small amounts.  This, being the product of organic decomposition, indicated vegetable life...

With understandable pride, for the value of her incredible thoroughness had proved itself again, Gerry finally contacted all the life-boats. 

"We're perfectly safe, men.  Dress warmly.  Carry a bottle of oxygen with a tube, and take a breath of it every minute or so in order to prevent blood bubbles from forming.  Hand weapons, of course, just in case.  So, everybody out!"

Arthur K Barnes, Interplanetary Hunter (1956)

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site of a crash-landing on titan

....their landing-spot, while excellent for its purpose, was not by any manner of means an ideal campsite.  It was a small, flat basin of sandy soil, rimmed by shallow mountains.  His gaze sought these hills, looked approvingly on their greenness, upon the multitude of dark pock-marks dotting them.  These caves, were they not the habitations of potential enemies, might well become the sanctuaries of spacewrecked men.

He saw, also, a thin ribbon of silver sheering the face of the northern hills.  His gaze, rising still skyward, saw other things -

He nodded.  He knew, now, where they were.  Or approximately.  There was but one planet in the solar system which boasted such a phenomenon.  The apparent distance of the Sun, judged by its diminished disc, argued his judgement to be correct.  The fact that they had surged through an atmospheric belt for some length of time before finally meeting with disaster...

Nelson S Bond, Wanderers of the Wolf Moon (Planet Stories, Spring 1944)

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re-embodied on titan

...Harker joined him, and they went together through the lichen forest, ghostly under the dim, far Sun.  The tall growths were silent now that the wind had died.  And as they went, Harker talked of Moneb and the men and women who dwelt there.  Simon listened, knowing that his life depended on remembering what he heard.

But even that necessity could not occupy more than one small part of his mind.  The rest of it was busy with the other things - the bitter smell of dust, the chill bite of the air in the shaded places, the warmth of the sun in the clearings, the intricate play of muscles necessary to the taking of a step, the rasp of lichen fronds over unprotected skin, the miracle of breathing, of sweating, of grasping an object with five fingers of flesh.

The little things one took for granted.  The small, miraculous incredible things that one never noticed until they were gone.

He had seen the forest before as a dun-gray monochrome, heard it as a pattern of rustling sound.  It had been without temperature, scent or feel.  Now it had all of these things.  Simon was overwhelmed with a flood of impressions, poignant almost beyond enduring...

Edmond Hamilton, The Harpers of Titan (Startling Stories, September 1950)

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grotesque mimicry on titan

...The men jokingly called them Barber's Delights because of the thick, shaggy coat of hair that covered their log-like bodies.  The B.D.'s either didn't understand, or just didn't care, for they made no objection to their nickname.

There were twenty of the creatures in this group, and more joined them along the way.  They imitated the brisk step of the soldiers with amazing exactness, though they possessed no resemblance whatsoever of feet.  They moved on dense mats of stubby, resilient bristles that grew from the flat bottoms of their column-like bodies, sweeping forward like a horde of self-propelling brooms.  Not wishing to be outdone by the visitors, they had their own sergeant, who moved along importantly at the side of his command, glaring threateningly from the corner of his single, huge eye...

James R Adams, Crisis on Titan (Planet Stories, Spring 1946)

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dan dare brought to the capital of titan

Dan Dare on Titan - unedited

Frank Hampson, Dan Dare: Operation Saturn (Eagle, 1953-4)

>>  Guess The World - Third Series

an ice-city on titan

“Oh, there it is!” she cried.  “It is beautiful, Steve, but how frightfully, utterly cold!”

A flash of prismatic colour had caught the girl’s eye, and, one transparent structure thus revealed to her sight, there had burst into view a city of crystal.  Low buildings of hexagonal shape, arranged in irregularly variant hexagonal patterns, extended mile upon mile.  From the roofs of the structures lacy spires soared heavenward; inter-connected by long, sllim cantilever bridges whose prodigious spans seemed out of all proportion to the gossamer delicacy of their construction.  Buildings, spires, and bridges formed fantastic geometrical designs at which Nadia exclaimed in delight.

“I’ve just realized what that reminds me of – it’s snowflakes!”

“Sure – I knew it was something familiar.  Snowflakes – no two are ever exactly alike, and yet every one is symmetrical and hexagonal.  We’re going to land on the public square – see the crowds?  Let’s put on our suits and go out.”

E E "Doc" Smith, Spacehounds of IPC (1931, 1947)

>>  Guess The World - Third Series

metalloid-mineraloid life on titan

The scene around them was one that was utterly alien. The primitive organisms that made up the flora and fauna of Titan were as eerily strange in their composition as was the blue vapor that gave them life. The basic element of Titan's life-forms was a microscopic crystalline cell that was neither metal, stone, nor protoplasm, but a weird combination of all three.

THE slender spiky stems of the six-foot vegetation were of living metal that somewhat resembled iron. The odd, shapeless lumps of plastic black material that edged and rolled their way across the glittering grey soil—the lumps varying in diameter from a few inches to over a foot — were of living stone. Of insect, bird, or marine life there was none.

The scattered spikes of the metal trees offered no possible hiding place for Ruth and Kent, but near the mouth of the narrow little canon there was a mound of grey crystal blocks where a large piece had weathered and fallen from one of the walls. Panting, they flung themselves down behind the rocky mass.

From tiny fissures in the canon floor blue vapor surged upward in a cloud that obscured all except the bare outline of the building a hundred feet distant, but the glare of the fire was spectacularly visible, the blue mist acting as a giant reflector for the ruddy glow of the flames. The sight was visible for a distance of several hundred yards, and Kent believed that the Martian was lurking somewhere nearer than that. The atavistic changes in Morton’s body had indicated that a very few minutes had elapsed between the shattering of his mask battery and his return to the building.  

Hal K Wells, Moon of Mad Atavism (Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1939)

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Comment by contributor Lone Wolf:

Another story by the same author as that of The White Brood and it seems to belong to the same universe, since the "purple death" of Jupiter is mentioned in it and also the soporific "somnolian", but here the latter is said to be a Martian drug, so not everything is completely consistent. Those early writers sometimes forget such minor details, but it's always stimulating for the imagination, when many stories are set against the common background of a larger world-building. For me this somehow makes them more "realistic", however fantastic otherwise they may be.

finding shelter in an ant-dome on titan

…Just beyond their hillock stretched the smooth surface of a wind-swept glacier, and here and there were the crystalline bubbles of the ice-ants.
   The ice-ants!  Lucky little creatures!  He remembered Young’s description of them in the book at the shack.  Within those domes it was warm; the temperature was above forty.  He stared at them, fragile and yet resisting that colossal wind.  He knew why; it was their ovoid shape, the same principle than enables an egg to resist the greatest pressure on its two ends.  No one can break an egg by squeezing it endways.
   Suddenly he started.  A hope!  He murmured a word to Diane, lifted her, and staggered out on the mirror-surface of the ice.  There!  There was a dome large enough – fully six feet across.  He circled to the lee side and kicked a hole in the glittering roundness.
   Diane crawled weakly through.  He followed, crouching beside her in the dusk.  Would it work?  He gave a long cry of relief as he perceived the scurrying three-inch figures of the ice-ants, saw them patching the dome with crystal fragments…  

Stanley Weinbaum, Flight on Titan (Astounding Stories, January 1935)

>>  Guess The World - Fourth Series

spider-monsters on climatically extreme titan

Ten days later, Earth time, he was circling Titan, while he searched the grim, forbidden terrain beneath. After days of studying and speculation he had decided that the Caves must be situated in the Inferno Range, a place so particularly vicious that no man, so far as was known, had ever explored it. During the day the heat would boil eggs, and at night the sub-zero cold cracked great scales off the granite boulders. And here, too, lay the Trap-Door City of the monster spiders!

The grim, fantastic range soon appeared over the horizon, stabbing its saw-tooth peaks far into the sky. Dawn was still lighting the world, and a great snow-storm, a howling, furious blizzard, concealed the lower slopes of the mountains. Penrun knew that presently the driving snow-flakes would change to rain-drops, and the shrieking, moaning voice of the gale would give way to the crashing, rolling thunder of the tempest. As the day advanced the storm would die abruptly and the clouds vanish under the deadly heat.

Then the Trap-Door City, which covered the slopes above the plateau at the three-thousand-foot level like a checker-board of shimmering, silken circles, would spring to febrile life as the spider monsters went streaking and leaping across the barren, distorted granite on the day's business, the hunt for food in the lowlands, and the opening of the trap-doors to gather in the heat of the day in the silken tunnel homes set in the gorges and among the boulders. At sunset the doors would all be closed, for then the rain and the electrical storm would return, and at night the blizzard. The storm-and-heat cycle was the deadly weather routine of the Infernos.

Edwin K Sloat, Loot of the Void (Astounding Stories, September 1932)

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Comment from contributor Lone Wolf:
Another forgotten author from the pulp era, who wrote about a dozen stories mainly in the 1930s with interesting and adventurous plots, but unfortunately without many details about the planetary settings. Thus he never explains here the anomalous climate of Titan with such big daily temperature amplitudes, neither says where all that heat comes from. He only says, that this is Titan. In another story there was a short scene on Callisto, but the only thing said about the satellite is that it has cold climate and coniferous forests; there is no description of the landscape or anything on it.
Comment from Zendexor:  
No problem - just say the spurts of heat come from tidal disturbances in the nine-moon Saturn system while the cold is what's normal out there.  Excuses abound in the fortunately lax OSS. 


titan from midjourneypictured by means of Midjourney AI; contributed by Dylan Jeninga