what to see on
the asteroids

For a scenic browse, and an answer-page for Guess The World...

crash-lander marooned on an asteroid

...I was wide-awake now, and I hastened to unlash myself from the hammock.  I found that the floor was pitched sharply, as if the vessel had landed on a slope or had buried its nose in the alien terrain.  Feeling a queer, disconcerting lightness, and barely able to re-establish my feet on the floor, I gradually made my way to the nearest port...

The horizon of serrate peaks, like a miniature mountain-range, lay at a distance of several hundred yards.  Above it, the small, intensely brilliant sun, like a fiery moon in its magnitude, was sinking with visible rapidity in the dark sky...

All about were fretted ridges, guttering pillars and pinnacles; and over these, amazingly, there clambered frail, pipy, leafless vines with broad, yellow-green tendrils flat and thin as paper.  Insubstantial-looking lichens, taller than a man, and having the form of flat antlers, grew in single rows and thickets along the valley.

Between the thickets, I saw the approach of certain living creatures who rose from behind the middle rocks with the suddenness and lightness of leaping insects...

Clark Ashton Smith, Master of the Asteroid (Wonder Stories, October 1932)

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a snowy but habitable asteroid

...He shook the snow out of his hair and plunged on, leaving the rest to follow as best they could.

A jutting shoulder of the mountains loomed before him.  The wind blew and the deep-throated horns called and called again across the valley.  The blown drifts leaped at him and the icy screes were a challenge to his strength but they could not slow him down.  He laughed and went on around the shoulder and saw the white city glittering under the stars.

It spread across the valley floor and up the slopes as though it grew from the frozen earth, a part of it, as enduring as the mountains...  it seemed to be built all of ice, its turrets and crenellations glowing with a subtle luminescence in the dusky twilight, fantastically shaped, dusted here and there with snow.  From the window openings came a glow of pearly light...

It was a strong place, walled and fortified against whatever enemies there might be on this world...

Leigh Brackett, The Lake of the Gone-Forever (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1949)

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a richly forested asteroid

...They could see all the land wrapped in a green blanket from which, here and there, only the craggiest of spires pierced upwards in their rocky nakedness.  Foliage sprang from every pocket of soil, bushes waved atop the most unlikely peaks and festoons of swaying creepers hung down from the ledges like green waterfalls pouring into the still denser growths below.  Occasional gleams of water showed where steep-sided clefts had succeeded in trapping miniature lakes, and, infrequently, there occurred larger, shadowed valleys which could show level ground dotted with not inconsiderable trees.  As the Argenta swept nearer still, a half-checked exclamation burst from Angus.  He pressed closer to the window.

"What is is?" asked Joe, beside him.

But Angus made no reply.  For the present he was keeping to himself the knowledge of a bright, metallic glint which had flashed from one valley.  He marked the spot mentally by the queerly twisted crag which dominated it.

The ship, now travelling slowly, searched for a landing.  A few moments later she was sinking gently to a green spread berth.  Joe voiced the general sentiment as they touched.

"Well, we might be in a worse hole.  There's certainly no desert here..."

John Wyndham, Exiles on Asperus (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Winter 1933)

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the cave-apes of asteroid zuun

...Otho and Grag entered the Comet and dropped the ship slowly into the narrow chasm, landing it on a wide ledge covered by white fungi.

"The cave apes won't bother it here," Otho declared, "for I'll turn on the auxiliary generator to give the hull an electric charge.  Any of 'em who touch it will get a shock."

"Speaking of the cave apes, here they come now!" cried Grag.

Otho jumped to the port-hole, and uttered a sharp exclamation.  The darkness was almost complete, but enough thin starlight sifted down to allow him to see the incredible creatures who were clambering up onto the ledge from the lower depths.

There were more than a dozen of the monsters - huge, white-skinned apelike giants.  The adult males and females were at least eighteen feet in height, and even the young were seven feet high.  Their shambling legs and arms, round heads, and phosphorescent eyes gave them a peculiarly terrifying appearance.

The cave apes were hunting through the white fungi for large black cave crabs, which they pounced upon and devoured.  So far, they had not noticed the Comet at the back of the ledge.

"What are we going to do?" Grag exclaimed.  "We can't get back up without them seeing us.  Shall we try our atom-pistols?"

"They say a cave ape's hide is almost proof against any ordinary weapon," Otho said.  "By the time we killed one, the rest would be on us."

"Well, we can't stay here," Grag declared.  "Use those brains you're always bragging about, and dope out some way to get through them."

Otho's eyes lit up with a gleam of inspiration.

"Grag, I've got it!  You're about the size of one of those cave ape cubs..."

Edmond Hamilton, Outlaw World (1945)

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an asteroid haunted by disembodied minds

...Hahhahhahhahhahhahhahhah.  Somewhere a vanishing laughter.

He whirled about.  "Shut up, you!" he cried.

We didn't say anything, said the mountains.  We didn't say anything, said the sky.  We didn't say anything, said the wreckage.

"All right then," he said, swaying.  "See that you don't."

Everything was normal.

The pebbles were getting hot.  The sky was big and dark.  He looked at his fingers and saw the way the sun burned on every black hair.  He looked at his boots and the dust on them.  Suddenly he felt very happy because he made a decision.  I won't go to sleep, he thought.  I'm having nightmares, so why sleep?  There's your solution...

Ray Bradbury, Perchance to Dream (in the collection The Day it Rained Forever (1959))

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Note: the above extracts are of fictional scenes set on fictional asteroids.  For fictional scenes set on known asteroids, you can go to What to see on Ceres and What to see on Vesta.