Each dated question-entry contains a bit of a scene set on an Old Solar System world.
Care to tell me which world you think it is? If so, email me your verdict at firstname.lastname@example.org, giving the date of the question-entry.
You shouldn't have to wait too long for the answers to each one. I intend to link each entry to its answer after a couple of days have passed. And since, most days, I'll be putting a new entry on, you'll probably find that only the two most recent ones are still waiting for their answers. Happy browsing!
2017 October 21st:
...In half an hour I had arrived at the edge of the red plateau. A steep slope fell before me to the edge of the jungle, perhaps two-thirds of a mile farther below. A slope carpeted with the thick fiber of the green moss.
A weird scene. Clear cerulean sky, darkly, richly blue... The wide valley, with the broad silvery stream, winding among golden forests, and patches of green. The purple balloons floating here and yon, huge spheres swaying on the red cables that anchored them above the jungle.
I seated myself on the moss, where I could overlook that valley of eldritch wonder. I remained there for some time, staring out across it, while I ate most of the food that I had brought, and half-emptied the bottle of water.
Then I decided to descend to the edge of the jungle.
The sun was just at the meridian - the whole of the short afternoon, was yet before me. I had ample time, I thought, to go down the slope to the edge of the jungle and return before the sudden nightfall...
2017 October 20th:
...It was hard to estimate just where the tree trunk legs were going to come down, and close up, the walking walls of flesh gave you a vertiginous sense that they were always toppling over on you. The sound of their footfalls filled the world, like rumbling thunder on a hot summer day or batteries of heavy artillery...
Taldi threw himself aside with a yell as a foot with hundreds of tons of weight behind it slammed down not four feet from him. That and the miniature earthquake tossed him off his feet and onto his shoulders and neck; half-stunned, he doggedly began to gather the scattered arrows that had spilled from his quiver and snatch up the leather sack of torches. The next time the rear foot came down it would be on top of him...
2017 October 19th:
...I considered running for cover among the small crags and boulders that jutted like house-sized teeth up through the lava. But to run might be to draw attention to myself.
Finally, with utmost caution, I advanced.
On a clear area of plain beside the trail, I came upon a group of about a dozen barrel-sized, bulbous vegetables, ridged like cacti. They had twiggy tufts the size of chop-sticks growing from their tops; the rattling sound came from these sticks tap-tapping.
I ventured closer still. I'd never learn what's what if I avoided every off-putting thing. I stopped at three yards and watched the twigs make their noise. My tension eased as I came to the conclusion that the rattling was purely defensive, evolved to ward off predators. So, having had my look, I returned to the trail. For a while I still heard the click-click-click behind me.
In my imagination the noise began to seem like an exchange of remarks, and the sick eerie hunch that those blind isolated things might be talking made this world seem infinitely lonelier...
2017 October 18th:
...he stood petrified for a moment on the rough ice, staring northeastward. He and his companions looked frozenly up at an awful peril thundering down on them.
The Marching Mountains! The vast thousand-foot high range of icy hills that was but one of similar glacier-ranges which perpetually moved around the planet!
The forefront of the appalling walking ice-range was a towering, gleaming cliff that was only a few hundred yards from them. And the whole cliff was advancing on them, moving at an incredible speed of many yards a minute, pushed forward by the vast glacial masses of ice behind it. From the icy moving cliff fell great bergs and masses of ice, over which the main range moved crushingly as it came on.
"Out of here!" Captain Future yelled. "We'll have to run for it - this way!"
"There is no use running from the Marching Mountains," cried Tharb hopelessly. "We cannot get out of their path and they will soon overtake us."
2017 October 17th:
...Fleming stumbled on a few yards more.
"If only I could see!" he cried.
As if in answer to his plea, a sheet of rose-colored flame poured from a vent in the side of a mountain nearby, lighting up the region around the ship with a vivid crimson glare. Steam and lava poured from the mountain side, while the ground shook under the force of the blast. Dale and Fleming were hurled to their knees. They made no effort to rise but flattened themselves against the shuddering ground.
To his horror Dale perceived that the ship had landed upon a narrow ledge projecting along the edge of a sheer wall of ice. Peering cautiously over the side he gazed a thousand feet down into a sea tossing under the shock of the eruption. Sick and dizzy, he crept back to the sheltering wall of the cliff. The flame subsided...
2017 October 16th:
...Varnal is more real to me, even in my memories, than ever Chicago or New York can be. It lies in a gentle valley in the hills.... the Calling Hills. Green and golden, they are covered with slender trees and, when the wind passes through them, they sound like sweet, distant, calling voices as one walks past.
The valley itself is wide and shallow and contains a fairly large, hot lake. The city is built around the lake, from which rises a greenish stream, a delicate green that sends tendrils curling around the spires of Varnal. Most of Varnal's graceful buildings are tall and white, though some are built of the unique blue marble which is mined close by. Others have traceries of gold in them, making them glitter in the sunlight. The city is walled by the same blue marble, which also has golden traceries in it. From its towers fly pennants, gay and multicolored, and its terraces are crowded with its handsome inhabitants, the plainest of whom would be a sought-after beau or belle in Wynnsville, Ohio - or, indeed, Chicago or any other great city of our world...
2017 October 15th:
...While in quest of fire-wood, they came upon great heaps of bones, mostly those of birds, and were attracted by the tall, bell-shaped flowers growing luxuriantly in their midst. These exhaled a most delicious perfume, and at the centre of each flower was a viscous liquid, the colour of honey.
"If this tastes as well as it looks," said Bearwarden, "it will come in well for dessert"; saying which he thrust his finger into the recesses of the flower, intending to taste the essence. Quietly, but like a flash, the flower closed, his hand being nearly caught and badly scratched by the long, sharp thorns that now appeared at the edges...
...Towards evening these flowers sent up their most beautiful song, to hear which flocks of birds came from far and near, alighting on the trees, and many were lured to death by the siren strains and the honey...
2017 October 14th:
...Soon we were near enough to the wall and gate to see clearly the two great plants who guarded the opening. Their slow-waving tendrils showed that they were still waking and watchful. Blan noiselessly left our side, gliding away like a white phantom to the right, and then he on one side and Fairley and I on the other, were creeping toward the gate, keeping far enough aside from it to be out of range of the strange senses of the guarding plants.
We two reached the metal wall, and hugging it began a slow stealthy progress along it toward the gate-opening. Reaching that opening we hesitated, our swords tight-gripped in our hands. Then we saw Blan appear on the gate's other side, slipping along the wall like ourselves, a gliding white form. He too halted, grasping his blade, and then with one hand made a silent signal to us. Instantly he and we were leaping around the wall's corner onto the two great plants.
The great plant that Fairley and I sprang for loomed before us as a dark many-armed object, whose tendrils whipped wildly as our blades slashed lightning-like through them...
2017 October 13th:
...Seemingly immune to the ravages of time, the mighty Zinc Era network had left Syoom criss-crossed with embankments on which the empty rails still ran. Every few thousand miles, wayfarers were still bound to cross one of these artificial ridges. On well-frequented routes this did not matter at all; however, grim experience had taught that any stretch of embankment which had not been visited for a thousand days or so must be approached gingerly. Preferably, a dray-master, raft-pilot or Crawler captain should send scouts ahead to peer cautiously over the rim, before any attempt to get over with the main vehicle. And the more lasers on one's side the better...
2017 October 12th:
...Grant brushed his hand across his forehead and turned wearily towards his stone-bark log shack. A pair of tiny, glittering red eyes caught his attention, and a slinker - Mus Sapiens - slipped his six-inch form across the threshold, bearing under his tiny, skinny arm what looked very much like Grant's clinical thermometer.
Grant yelled angrily at the creature, seized a stone, and flung it vainly. At the edge of the brush, the slinker turned its ratlike, semihuman face toward him, squeaked its thin gibberish, shook a microscopic fist in manlike wrath, and vanished, its batlike cowl of skin fluttering like a cloak. It looked, indeed, very much like a black rat wearing a cape...
2017 October 11th:
...The tremendous interplay of magnetic and electrostatic fields just beyond the city's edge was as clearly perceptible to his senses as the city itself - a mile-wide disc ringed with conical field towers, stretching away behind and to each side. The ship was poised between two of the towers; immediately behind it was the field from which Kron had just taken off. The area was covered with cradles of various forms - cup-shaped receptacles which held city craft like Kron's own: long, boat-shaped hollows wherein reposed the cigarlike vessels which plied between the cities...
Beyond the landing field was the city proper; the surface of the disc was covered with geometrically shaped buildings - cones, cylinders, prisms, and hemispheres, jumbled together...
2017 October 10th:
...All around them in the thin sunlight rose slender trees whose enormous green leaves grew directly from the trunks. This grotesque forest was made more dense by festoons of writhing "snake-vines", weird rootless creepers which crawled like plant-serpents from one tree to another. Each stir of wind brought white spore-dust down in a shower from the trees.
The few living creatures of this forbidding landscape were equally alien. Big white meteor-rats scurried on their eight legs through the brush. Phosphorescent flame-birds shot through the upper fronds like streaks of fire...