cluffs

[cute little unfulfulled fragments of fascination]


The reader has been introduced to this topic in the OSS Diary for 28th August 2016, and CLUFFs have been mentioned a few times since.  OSS literature is prone to these little tantalising snippets.  They are delightful-but-frustratingly-unfollowed-up digressions, which tempt one to wonder at unanswered questions. 

I thought it high time to begin a page on which newly discovered CLUFFs could be added as I find them.  Also, ideally, I should some time get round to including the ones which have already been mentioned elsewhere on the site (I have made a start on this), so that they can all gather here in one happy OSS-CLUFF family, and perhaps help delineate the characters of worlds.  I am organizing them by zone.

mercurian zone

...Later, as the Earth's span closed, the transferred minds would again migrate through time and space - to another stopping place in the bodies of the bulbous vegetable entities of Mercury...

H P Lovecraft, The Shadow Out of Time (Astounding Stories, June 1936)

...On Mercury, Shelton had found a much simple way of stopping the voracious hordes of omnivorous, two-foot amoeboids than by blasting them to pieces with small cannon.  No poison could affect them.  Small gelatin capsules containing solid carbon dioxide were strewn in their stampeding path.  The giant single-celled monsters absorbed them, dissolved off the gelatin, and swiftly puffed up into porous balloons by the action of the released gas...

Eando Binder, The Impossible World (Startling Stories, March 1939)

"...at least the natives are human, after a fashion!  Shut your eyes and listen to a Mercurian trying to bargain you out of your back teeth and you feel almost chummy..."

Murray Leinster,  Space-Can  (Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1948)

...The Kotolies, a strange, shy little animal native to Mercury, had been brought back to Earth in the fortieth century and crossbred with dogs.  The new hybrid, a domesticated pet, could speak and think the language of Earth, while still retaining the lore of Mercury...

Donald Wandrei, Finality Unlimited (Astounding Stories, September 1936)

...He remembered the Mercurian who had valeted one of the friends of his student days.  Khambee was the Mercurian's name - a curious elf whose unobtrusive yet insistent indulgence was much the same as that of this mechanical slave.

"Khambee the Second," Van Tyren pronounced good-naturedly, bestowing the nomen on the automaton...

Raymond Z Gallun, Derelict (Astounding Stories, October 1935)

venusian zone

...I have seen the hoary, sky-confronting walls of Machu Pichu amid the desolate Andes; and the frozen, giant-builded battlements of Uogam on the glacial tundras of the nightward hemisphere of Venus.  But these were as things of yesteryear compared to the walls upon which we gazed...

Clark Ashton Smith, The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis  (Weird Tales, May 1932)

lunar zone

During my numerous trips to the inner and outer planets (said Hespire) I saw such marvels and met such adventures as would make the wildest legends of the world's youth appear credible by comparison. Some day, perhaps, I will tell you of my encounter with the frightful but insubstantial giants who infest the hidden side of the moon...

Clark Ashton Smith, Ascharia (fragment of unfinished story)

martian zone

..."The building of gigantic projects for ritual purposes - doing a thing for the sake of doing it - is the last act of an already dead culture.  Look at the pyramids in Egypt for example.  Or an even more idiotic and more enormous example, bigger than anything human beings have accomplished yet, the laying out of the 'Diagram of Power' over the whole face of Mars.  If the Martians had put all that energy into survival instead, they'd probably be alive yet."

James Blish, Bridge  (Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1952)

...Moreover, I may speak of the living fluids that gather perniciously at the poles of Mhuth; and of certain dark Presences, neither material nor phantasmal, that assail the invader of the red, ruinous Mhuthian cities...

Clark Ashton Smith, Ascharia (fragment of unfinished story)

...on Mars, the very shrubs make noises, weird and shrilling...

Festus Pragnell, A Visit to Venus (Fantastic Story Quarterly, Spring 1950)

JOVIAN ZONE

"...It is not permitted to me to tell your waking earth-self of your real self, but we are all roamers of vast spaces and travelers in many ages.  Next year I may be dwelling in the Egypt which you call ancient, or in the cruel empire of Tsan Chan which is to come three thousand years hence.  You and I have drifted to the worlds that reel about the red Arcturus, and dwelt in the bodies of the insect-philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of Jupiter.  How little does the earth self know life and its extent..."

H P Lovecraft, Beyond the Wall of Sleep  (first appeared in the amateur  publication Pine Cones, October 1919)

...on Jupiter, the air is full of flying things without wings...

Festus Pragnell, A Visit to Venus (Fantastic Story Quarterly, Spring 1950)

...on Ganymede, protective mimicry has been developed to such an extent that one never knows when any plant or stone may suddenly spring away upo one's approach...

Festus Pragnell, A Visit to Venus (Fantastic Story Quarterly, Spring 1950)

"Here's the breakdown of figures," Thomas went on calmly.  "Half our steel, as well as the billion tons we sell to Mars, is mined with great difficulty on Jupiter.  We couldn't operate those mines in case of war because the mines are hopelessly vulnerable to attack..."

A E van Vogt, Repetition (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1940)

...Captain Creed had neglected to hire replacements.  Thus, the only other man aboard beside Captain Creed, Blaine and Holderlin, was Farjoram, the half-mad Callistonian cook.

Jack Vance, Planet of the Black Dust (Startling Stories, Summer 1946)

saturnian zone

...In vain the Martian squirmed and struggled.  The glowing tentacles were more destructive than sear-blades.  Their corrosive writhings were more merciless than the pallid noose fungi that brought swift destruction to man, beast and Martian on the bleak Saturnian plateaus.

Frank Belknap Long,  Red Moon (Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1940)

..."He says that militarism is ruining their race... it has weighed every Jovian down with an immense burden of guilt because of what their armies and military administration have done to alien life-forms on Ganymede, Titan, and Europa, not to mention the half-sentient bubbles of the Saturnian core..."

William Tenn, The Deserter  (Star Science Fiction Stories, 1953)

Home again, the old familiar Earth!  He could scarcely believe it!  Perhaps it was only a dream, and he'd wake up among the unhuman glittering cylinders of Saturn, shuddering and crawling with the iciness of their fixed regard...

Nat Schachner, Slaves of Mercury (Astounding Stories, September 1932)

...interplanetary wars had weakened the race.  Invasions from outer space finished the destruction.  Man survived on Saturn only through hybrid amalgamation with the conquerors.  He vanished from the surface of Earth where sulphuric gases had poisoned the atmosphere for him but made it safe for the invaders... 

Donald Wandrei, Finality Unlimited (Astounding Stories, September 1936)

plutonian zone

...Dorn was a frozen idol to the spiral beings of Pluto...

Nat Schachner, Slaves of Mercury (Astounding Stories, September 1932)

George Hartley shuffled dispiritedly along the rock walk and watched the two moons of Mars floating through the night.  Phobos and Deimos - romantic twins of space sailing around the mysterious Red Planet.  Silver worlds crying over a dead land of dust and sadness and lonely canals...  nuts!  He had ground out so much stinking copy about them - at five bucks a column inch - that he was sick of them both.  He wished vaguely that they would buzz off into space and plough into the Sun.  Yeah, that would be nice.

Then all the tremulous dames back on Earth would have to find something else to sigh over - axe murders, for instance, or the Lost Treasure of the Plutonian Caverns...

Chad Oliver, The Reporter (Fantastic Story Magazine, Fall 1951)

outermost zone

...In that hall the captive mind of an incredible entity - a half-plastic denizen of the hollow interior of an unknown trans-Plutonian planet eighteen million years in the future - had kept a certain thing which it had modeled from clay...

H P Lovecraft, The Shadow Out of Time  (Astounding Stories, June 1936)