Robert L. Forward
Published: Dec 31, 1995
Forward takes us to one of the giants of the solar system, the planet Saturn. Five intrepid humans are paid a billion dollars each to risk a voyage into the upper atmosphere of the ringed world in an attempt to convert atmospheric chemicals into fuel. The goal is to power interplanetary ships, and this fuel could be made cheaper there than anywhere else in the solar system once the initial setup is established. What no one anticipates are the huge flying creatures that live in the Saturnian skies, which the explorers name rukhs after the legendary giant flying creatures Sinbad the Sailor meets in the Arabian Nights. During an accident the ship lands upon a rukh's enormous back and becomes marooned, leading to one of the most bizarre and intriguing adventures in contemporary hard science fiction.