Saturday, January 9, 2010

Venus In the Fiction Of Leigh Brackett - Various Various

Venus in the fiction of Leigh Brackett
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Venus and Venusians are frequently appearing settings and characters for many of the Solar System stories of Leigh Brackett. Brackett's Venus shares some characteristics with the astronomical Venus, but in other respects functions as a consistent fantasy world with recurring landmarks and characteristics that reappear from story to story. Some of these fantasy characteristics are of Brackett's own invention; others reflect some of the scientific theories about Venus that were current before the early 1960s.Contents [hide]
1 Astronomical characteristics
2 Physical characteristics
2.1 Atmosphere
2.2 Geography
3 History of Venus
3.1 Prehistory
3.2 Terran invasions
3.3 Interplanetary Wars
4 Biology
4.1 Fauna
4.2 Flora
5 Anthropology and Ethnology
5.1 Venusian humans
5.2 Venusian humanoids
6 Government
7 Venus' moon
8 See also
9 References
9.1 Core Venus stories
9.2 Marginal Venus stories
9.3 Non-Venus stories

Astronomical characteristics

In Brackett's Solar System, Venus is the second planet from the Sun. It is very similar in size and composition to the Earth, and is even wetter and possesses a richer biosphere.

Venus circles the Sun in a Venusian year of 224.7 Earth-days. The day of Brackett's Venus is longer than Earth's (The Moon That Vanished) but the length is unspecified; it is clear, however, that Venus is not tidally locked to the Sun and undergoes a regular day-night cycle. The axial tilt of Venus is likely small, as there appears to be little in the way of seasonal variation.
Physical characteristics

Venus possesses a very dense, oxygen-rich, water-saturated atmosphere. This produces a dense cloud-layer around the planet, which prevents direct observation of the surface from above the cloud tops. From the surface, the stars are never visible, and the sun only indirectly so. Venus' atmosphere is highly charged, and the magnetic interference makes navigation difficult.

Most of Venus is very low-lying, shallow seas and swamps just below or near sea level. The mountain and plateau country -- the only parts of Venus inhabitable by Terrans, and preferred by the native Venusian humans -- is rare and extremely valuable. Some of the highlands reach high enough to penetrate the cloud layer and receive some direct sunlight.

The inhabited southern hemisphere is dominated by the Sea of Morning Opals, one of Venus' deeper seas. Towards the north this sea narrows to the strait called the "Dragon's Throat", beyond which lie the Upper Seas which lie along the equator. The Upper Seas are landlocked, very shallow and filled with dangerous reefs. Somewhere in the Upper Seas lies the fabulous and forbidden Moonfire (The Moon that Vanished).

The continental areas are for the most part low-lying swamp, brackish near the coasts, but also discharging fresh water into the littoral zones. These swamps have been in place for hundreds of millions of years, and the vegetation beneath them has compacted to form thick deposits of coal, which can be mined.

Venus' main continent is divided by the range called the Mountains of White Cloud. These mountains form a formidable barrier; air travel across them is considered impossible, due to their great (literally stratospheric) height and the local magnetic anomalies near them that render instrumental flying impossible (Lorelei of the Red Mist). Travel across these mountains by land is extraordinarily dangerous. The far side of the mountains is little known; the only securely recognized landmark in transmontane Venus is the Red Sea, a huge lake filled with a red gas. The gas is heavy enough not to diffuse into the atmosphere, and buoyant enough to float watercraft or to swim in; but it is mixed with oxygen, and can be inhaled without immediate ill effect, though prolonged exposure is discouraged.

The area around the Red Sea is barbarous and dangerous, dominated by thieves and pirates who infest such strongholds as Shuruun, Falga and Crom Dhu (Enchantress of Venus, Lorelei of the Red Mist).
History of Venus

No Venusian people ever developed its own system of writing, so little or nothing is known about the history of Venus before the coming of the Terrans. The Venusian humans, closely akin to Earth humans and unlike the mainly reptilian denizens of the rest of Venus, evidently were transplanted to Venus from outside, though by what agency remains unknown. They have no recollection in their traditions of a time before they arrived on Venus.

The myths of the Venusian humans do, however, recall the impact of fragments of Venus' former moon on the surface of the planet. If this could be dated precisely, it would provide a lower limit for the arrival of humans on Venus; however, the sites of the impacts are either unknown or unapproachable due to high levels of residual radioactivity.
Terran invasions

The initial Terran presence on Venus involved far more violence than the comparable presence on Mars. The Martians continued the traditions of an ancient civilization, and the Terrans could at least pretend to deal with them from a position of equality; but the natives Venusians appeared, from the Terran point of view, to be no more than savages. Terran attempts to obtain a foothold on Venus were met with brutal Venusian violence and even more ruthless reprisals. Although the Venusians could not match the Terran level of technology, their superior knowledge of Venus' terrain and its exotic biology often gave them an edge in conflicts with the Terrans.
Interplanetary Wars

Venus was for some time under the control of the powerful Terra-Venusian coalition, in which the Terrans were the dominant partner, and the exploitation of Venusian resources was carried out quickly despite the objections of Venusian natives.

Venusian independence brought Venus into a wider world of interplanetary conflict. In a war with Earth, Venus bombarded Earth from space, but failed to complete its secret weapon: an army of radio-telepathically controlled zombies (No Man's Land in Space).

Venus also sided with the other Triangle Worlds against the Jovians, but found itself in conflict with both Jupiter and Mars in a later war over territory in the Asteroid Belt. Venus' Trade City of Vhia was bombarded from space; this bombardment was initially believed to be the work of the Jovians, but turned out to be a Martian ploy to aggravate Venusian-Jovian tensions to the point of no return (Interplanetary Reporter).

Venus' plentiful water and oxygen combined with tropic heat make it a very favorable site for the growth of life. Venus boasts the densest and most diverse array of biota in the Solar System. Only a few of Venus' millions of species can be described below.

Despite Venus' diversity, Venusian fauna has, for the most part, not yet evolved beyond the reptilian stage. Most of the native higher fauna are scaly predators, carnivorous or omnivorous. Insect life is even more common.
Bird-lizards - flying gray-green reptiles with feathery wings. These creatures grow large enough to carry a fully-grown human as a mount, and are used in war by the Venusian barbarian tribes (The Dragon-Queen of Venus).
Golden hounds – aquatic creatures inhabiting the gaseous Red Sea. They are quadrupeds of a pale golden, phosphorescent color, with large, jewel-like eyes. They move through the thick gas with the thrust of their flat tails, and are guided by wing-like membranes along their flanks. They can be trained to act like hunting or herding dogs (Lorelei of the Red Mist).
Green snakes - most of the mass of these creatures, normally about 3m in length, is made up of water. They change size relative to the amount of water available, however, and if artificially deprived of water can shrink to a decimeter or less in length. If they obtain a new water source they can quickly return to their full length They are blood-feeders and inject a venom that causes a temporary insanity in their victims. (The Dragon-Queen of Venus.)
Guardians of the Upper Seas – Aquatic carnivorous scale-backed reptiles of monstrous size, capable of destroying a ship and devouring the crew. No Guardian has ever been seen in its entirety (The Moon that Vanished).
Leshen (swamp-dragons) – these swamp-dwelling carnivores are nocturnal hunters. They are hunted and their skins made into a kind of leather (The Citadel of Lost Ships, The Vanishing Venusians).
Scarlet beetles – these large, crawling beetles are scavengers and flesh-eaters; a colony of them can strip the flesh from a body, living or dead, in less than a minute, leaving nothing but bones (The Dragon-Queen of Venus).
Reptilians – sea-dwelling reptiles who live among the seaweed, and feed upon sea-dragon eggs (The Moon that Vanished).
Sea-dragons – small flying reptiles, with bright jewel-like scales and red eyes. They fly inland, but lay their eggs in masses of weed out on the open seas. They can be made pets, but never become truly domesticated. (The Moon that Vanished, The Vanishing Venusians, Terror Out of Space.)
Swamp-rhinos – a poorly known animal, which bears horns used for ornament by the Venusian barbarians (The Dragon-Queen of Venus).
War-dogs – these reptiles actually resemble miniature carnosaurs, being bipedal with grasping hands. They take their name from being used as attack beasts by the barbarian tribes, who attach bone spikes to their tails as an additional weapon (The Dragon-Queen of Venus).

In addition to normal sessile plant life, Venus possesses a highly evolved group of motile plants, or "planimals" (colloquially "plannies"), some of which have attained a degree of intelligence.
Kelp-beasts are among the most dangerous planimals, living in the depths of the Venusian oceans but periodically raiding the shallower seas for food. They are agile swimmers, with a body plan something between a ray and a squid; they have dark red-brown bulb-like bodies, with leafy ray-fins, a fishtail-like flange at the rear for steering, and stinging tentacles (Terror Out of Space).
Plant-men live in the shallow seas, near ruined cities. They are 3 to 4 feet tall. They have pixie-like faces, large round golden eyes with brown pupils, webs for swimming on their hands and feet, but with the main swimming locomotion provided by a long, fluttering membrane between the arms and legs. They also have multicolored petal-like growths on their heads. Their color ranges from blue-grey to warm green, depending upon emotion. They begin life as plants rooted in the shallow sea-sand, but as they grow they unroot and learn to swim (Terror Out of Space).
Swimmers live in the freshwater streams of highland caverns. They are also humanoid, with a golden phosphorescent color. Their eyes are lidless and black. When young hey have multiple growths capable of their own movement around their faces, resembling the petals of a dandelion; as they age, these turn into flat, coiled, fungus-like growths. Their thorn-like claws carry a toxin (The Vanishing Venusians).
Forest people live on the highlands. They have a pale, translucent greenish skin, blue eyes and short curly petal=hair of various colors such as deep blue, scarlet and white. They are intelligent and possess telepathic and telekinetic powers but have little in the way of cultural attainments, with no clothes, buildings, or rituals (The Vanishing Venusians).
Other plants
Anthropology and Ethnology
Venusian humans

The highlands of Venus are dominated by humans, genetically close to Earth humans and capable of interbreeding with them -- and so, presumably, sharing the same origin, though the exact relationship is uncertain. Due to the filtering of the sun through the thick clouds, little ultraviolet reaches the surface, and there is no need for high levels of protective melanin. Venusians are accordingly very pale, with hair ranging in color from blond to white.
Venusian humanoids

The Nahali are intelligent reptilian humanoids who inhabit the Venusian Deep Swamps. They are tall (averaging about 2m), have bright red eyes, and are covered in greenish iridescent scales. Their bodies also carry a powerful electric charge, which makes them dangerous to touch. Although their general anatomy resembles the human, their faces are very different, having no noses and triangular mouths. They are capable of breathing under water, since their skin cells extract oxygen directly from the water. They are dependent, however, upon a high degree of atmospheric humidity, which keeps them bound to the swamps except during the rainy season. (The Stellar Legion)

The Kraylens are closer to human than the Nahali, with bluish-white skin, opalescent eyes, broad cheeks and pointed chins. Their most notable mark is the featherlike crest that extends from the brow ridges, across the top of the head, and down the spine to the waist. The Kraylens live on the swamp-edges and practice a form of agriculture. (The Citadel of Lost Ships)

Not much is known about this rare reptilian species; they live in the Lohari swamps, have four arms each, and crawl like serpents. (The Citadel of Lost Ships)

These are an amphibious people living in or around the gaseous Red Sea, beyond the Mountains of White Cloud. Descended from a fish-like ancestor, they have pale white skin, with a hint of scales, but their hair, lips, eyes, and nipples are light green or aquamarine. They divided into two peoples, one land-dwelling and one sea-dwelling; the sea-dwellers are more like their piscine ancestors, having webbed hands and feet and visible gill slits. (Lorelei of the Red Mist)
Venus' moon

The belief that Venus once had a moon that vanished at some point in the distant past is common among the peoples and tribes of Venus. The religion known as the "Mysteries of the Moon" is centered upon a story of this lost moon. According to the myth, the god of this moon was the ruler of all the other gods, but because of their jealousy they destroyed his palace and killed him. His body fell from the skies onto the surface of Venus, where, unable to truly die, it sleeps and breathes. The shining cloud that surrounds his body is known as the Moonfire, and those who attempt to penetrate it to gain godhead from the sleeping god will be cursed by all the gods of Venus. The priests who call themselves the Children of the Moon will seek vengeance upon anyone who seeks to invade the Moonfire, but anyone who goes and successfully returns is sacrosanct.

The reality behind the myth is disputed, but may reflect the impaction of a portion of a small, unstable orbiting body upon the surface of Venus, leaving there a powerful radioactive source with strange effects upon the human mind.

See also
Leigh Brackett
Leigh Brackett Solar System
Venus in fiction
Core Venus stories
The Stellar Legion (Planet Stories Winter 1940)
The Dragon-Queen of Jupiter (Planet Stories Summer 1941) also published as The Dragon-Queen of Venus
Terror Out of Space (Planet Stories Summer 1944)
The Vanishing Venusians (novelette; Planet Stories Spring 1945)
Lorelei of the Red Mist (novella; Planet Stories Summer 1946), with Ray Bradbury
The Moon That Vanished (novelette; Thrilling Wonder Stories October 1948)
Enchantress of Venus (novella; Planet Stories Fall 1949) also published as City of the Lost Ones
Marginal Venus stories
The Demons of Darkside (Startling Stories January 1941)
Interplanetary Reporter (Startling Stories May 1941)
The Citadel of Lost Ships (Planet Stories March 1943)
The Blue Behemoth (Planet Stories May 1943)
Non-Venus stories
No Man's Land in Space (novelette; Amazing Stories July 1941)
Outpost on Io (Planet Stories November/Winter 1942)
The Halfling (novelette; Astonishing Stories February 1943)[hide]
v • d • e
The Leigh Brackett Solar System

Planets Mercury - Venus - Mars - Jupiter

4.5 out of 5

1 comment:

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