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Odds and Ends on the Clouds of Venus

17 Sep 2020, 10:18 UTC
Odds and Ends on the Clouds of Venus
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

James Gunn may have been the first science fiction author to anticipate the ‘new Venus,’ i.e., the one we later discovered thanks to observations and Soviet landings on the planet that revealed what its surface was really like. His 1955 tale “The Naked Sky” described “unbearable pressures and burning temperatures” when it ran in Startling Stories for the fall of that year. Gunn was guessing, but we soon learned Venus really did live up to that depiction.
I think Larry Niven came up with the best title among SF stories set on the Venus we found in our data. “Becalmed in Hell” is a 1965 tale in Niven’s ‘Known Space’ sequence that deals with clouds of carbon dioxide, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids. No more a tropical paradise, this Venus was a serious do-over of Venus as a story environment, and the more we learned about the planet, the worse the scenario got.

But when it comes to life in the Venusian clouds — human, no less — I always think of Geoffray Landis, not only because of his wonderful novella “The Sultan of the Clouds,” but also because of his earlier work on how the planet might be terraformed, ...

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