THE TITAN by Fred Mustard Stewart


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Despite some big earners (Century, Ellis Island), Stewart remains one of the crudest and creakiest purveyors of historical melodrama--often, as in much of this 1900-63 saga, making Sidney Sheldon look like Leo Tolstoy. ""The Titan"" is arms tycoon Nick Fleming, who starts out as the orphaned bastard son of a US tycoon and a Russian-Jewish hooker. But, adopted by the tycoon's lovely widow, Nick grows up in posh N.Y., goes to Princeton, works for arms-king Alfred Rams-child--and deflowers the boss's daughter Diana, with eternal-love vows and marriage plans (despite Mrs. R.'s livid anti-Semitism). While Nick is off on a company mission to 1917 Russia, however, Diana has a Mama-ordered abortion and goes bananas. So there's a long lovers' separation--during which time Nick, in London to show a new machine-gun design to young Winston Churchill, falls for blueblood Edwina Thrax. What of poor Diana, then? Well, now sane (sort of), she vows eternal vengeance, inherits the arms biz, becomes Kemal Ataturk's mistress, and is reported dead in a 1922 Smyrna fire--but actually lives on as a veiled, horribly scarred mystery-lady! Meanwhile, producer Nick and actress Edwina soar in the L.A. movie-biz; several kids are born, including one sired by co-star Rod Norman. (Rod is mistakenly killed by a hit-man hired by Diana to kill Nick.) Nick, buying the Ramschild company after Diana's pseudo-death, goes on a selling trip to late'20s Germany (he's really a US spy), where Hitler is deep into an S&M homosexual affair and Goebbels is groping. (These sequences read like a porno-version of Springtime for Hitler.) In the 1930s Nick's anti-Nazi work leads to vile Gestapo torture--and a reunion with veiled Diana, who now loves him again. In WW II England Nick works for FDR, Edwina is killed, Nick feuds with son Charles (who's incesting with sister Sylvia). Then Nick weds unfaithful chanteuse Laure; daughter Vicky is rape-murdered; a vicious son-in-law plots mass murder. And finally--yes, folks--Nick marries old flame Diana (now gorgeous via surgery) while nasty Charles plans patricide. Truly foolish and foul, at best unintentionally funny (like those Carol Burnett Show B-movie parodies)--with blatantly inept backgrounds, unlikable cardboard-people, cartoon plotting, and clichÉd (if undeniably easy-reading) word-processor prose.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1984
Publisher: Simon & Schuster