guess the world -
fourth series
entries 301-

[ + links to:   Guess The World entries 1-100  -  Guess The World entries 101-200  - 
Guess The World entries 201-300  - 
Guess The World scene-counts ]

Grandville sun juggling planetsfrom Granville's "Un Autre Monde" (1844)

It is open to anyone to set the quiz entries.  Email your mystery-snippets of OSS literature or OSS-related illustrations to me at, with the answer for each question, "Which world was this scene on?", plus the relevant details i.e. name of the author and the tale, and the issue of the magazine in which it appeared or, in the case of a novel, the date it was published, or, in the case of a picture, a reference to its source. 

Make it easy or hard - I don't mind!  Just don't send excerpts that are too obvious, such as in, "I was ambling along the canal bank under the light of the two moons..." or "We camped beside the Great Red Spot and toasted our supper on the fringe of the lava..." 

If a passage is almost right except for some tell-tale element, you can simply elide that part of it [.......], as I have done many times in the entries I've contributed.

I hope you have as much fun as I have had in choosing material.  The field is open wide!

2024 May 14th:

...The remainder of the entries Thad found less frequent, shorter, bearing the mark of excitement: landing upon [..........], the third and largest satellite of [..........]; unearthly forests, sheltering strange and monstrous life; the hunting of weird creatures, and mounting them for museum specimens.

Then the discovery of a ruined city, whose remains indicated that it had been built by a lost race of intelligent, spiderlike things; the finding of a temple whose walls were of precious metals, containing a crystal chest filled with wondrous gems; the smelting of the metal into convenient ingots, and the transfer of the treasure to the hold.

The first sinister note there entered the diary:

      Some of the men say we shouldn’t have disturbed the temple.  Think it will
      bring us bad luck.  Rubbish, of course.  But one man did vanish while they
      were smelting the gold.  Poor Mr. Tom James.  I suppose he ventured away
      from the rest, and something caught him…

entry 400      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 May 12th:   

Ten minutes later the great shadowy sphere that was the [..........] mainland was shrinking in the distance. Ahead, through the plane's front view-plate, [..........] arced across the heavens, a pastel rainbow against the outer night. Night here was never complete blackness; the [..........] sprinkling of radium moons gave a glow one could read by even at midnight.

Ten minutes more and he abruptly threw the ship into a shuddering bank, skirted a looming [..........], dived to a precarious landing on its neighbor. He dragged a spare radio set from under his seat and with it in his hand jumped out of the ship and ran to a large tree on which one end of a heavy cable was tied.

The other end of the cable stretched up and away from the [...........] and out across the misty void—to the neighboring globe which was so heavily jungled that there was no place to land a plane. Flint climbed into the dangling cable chair, holding the radio in his lap, and pushed himself out across the wire, away from the [..........], over the sheer drop ten miles under his feet.

Seconds later—things happened fast with this feather gravity—the other [..........] moved up under him and he dropped lightly to its surface.

The trail he took through the woods was more like a tunnel, and the little clearing that soon appeared was like a well, the moon lights filtering through.

entry 399      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 May 10th:

…Just beyond their hillock stretched the smooth surface of a wind-swept glacier, and here and there were the crystalline bubbles of the ice-ants.
   The ice-ants!  Lucky little creatures!  He remembered Young’s description of them in the book at the shack.  Within those domes it was warm; the temperature was above forty.  He stared at them, fragile and yet resisting that colossal wind.  He knew why; it was their ovoid shape, the same principle than enables an egg to resist the greatest pressure on its two ends.  No one can break an egg by squeezing it endways.
   Suddenly he started.  A hope!  He murmured a word to Diane, lifted her, and staggered out on the mirror-surface of the ice.  There!  There was a dome large enough – fully six feet across.  He circled to the lee side and kicked a hole in the glittering roundness.
   Diane crawled weakly through.  He followed, crouching beside her in the dusk.  Would it work?  He gave a long cry of relief as he perceived the scurrying three-inch figures of the ice-ants, saw them patching the dome with crystal fragments…  

entry 398      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 May 8th:

…The first generation of the metal people – more than fifty thousand of us – were obsolete. The things that we had been designed to do, the new ones, with their crystalline brains, fresh, untarnished, accomplished better.

We were banished to [..........].  It had long been a sort of interplanetary junkyard; now it became a graveyard.

Upon the barren face of this little world there was no life except for the handful of hardy Martian and Terran prospectors who searched for minerals.  Later on, a few rude mining communities sprang up under plastic airdromes, but never came to much.  Argon City was such a place…

entry 397      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 May 5th:

While he had been speaking another cloud hurricane had swept across the screen, and been succeeded by another narrow rift of calm. Again gazing on the placid waters below, I became aware of some dark object which seemed to move upon their surface. I riveted my eyes upon it, and felt that I could not be mistaken. Here, now, was something to which I could adjust my focus much better than to clouds or calm water, and so I readjusted the receiving lens and likewise the eye-pieces of the binocular. The object gained sharpness and distinctness. It was evidently a living thing of some sort, and I knew it must be of immense size to be visible at a distance of thirty miles. I called out to the major, telling him of my discovery, and asking him to come and look at it.

"No," said he; "since you have been so fortunate as to discover this object, creature, or whatever it is, make the most of the opportunity for observation. I dare not leave this mirror for an instant, or the scene would instantly pass from the field of vision, never to be recovered, I shall take extra pains to regulate the focusing, so that you may have uninterrupted means of observation."

I did not let my eyes leave the object for a moment, and presently the concentration of my gaze, as is frequently the case, rendered my vision clearer. There it was—an animal, toiling, floating, undulating on the surface of the water, if water it was, for it seemed to have rather the consistency of oil, and its smoothness served to impress me more strongly with the idea that the [..........] sea must possess constituents not found in our own oceans. I carefully moved my binocular on its tripod so as to keep the monster thoroughly in the field of vision, and for as long a time as possible. Gradually it resolved itself into a creature most unmistakably of the saurian tribe. The tapering muzzle, the long tail were perfectly defined, and left no room for doubt as to its identity. In place of legs, however, it possessed enormous fins or wings on either side, articulated like those of a bat, which were raised and depressed alternately, and served to propel the monster through the water. It seemed as though I were watching the slow evolutions of a nondescript tadpole in a pool a good many yards off. I followed with intense interest the progress of this monster, which kept slowly plowing its course, with alternate strokes of its side fins, evidently toward some definite point, and I caught myself wondering how long it would be before this living thing, endowed with organs of locomotion adapted to its surrounding circumstances, and possessed of a purpose, would encounter its mate or its prey; and what it would think if it knew that another living being, on a body which (owing to its angular proximity to the sun) it could never see, even were it endowed with human eyes and human intelligence, was watching it attentively more than four hundred millions of miles away, I was abruptly roused from my reverie by the sudden disappearance of the object from the screen, and, taking my eyes from the binocular to ascertain the cause, found that I had unconsciously followed its image as it slowly moved to the border, where, of course, it vanished. I lost no time in returning my binocular to the centre of the field, and though I saw more of the eddying cloud masses and dashing equatorial cyclones, I was not lucky enough to inspect the surface of the [..........] sea through a rift again.

entry 396      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 May 1st:

"... I have been surprised to see no water in sight, but I think I see my mistake now. You know the Mississippi has its mouth further from the center of the Earth than its source; it flows up hill! The answer is, of course, that the centrifugal force of the Earth's spin impels it to flow that way. Similarly, I am sure now that we will find that [..........] has a vast belt of water about the middle, and to the north and south there will be two great caps of dry land. We are on the northern cap."


"“Twenty centuries ago,” Tonlos continued, “there were two great rival nations on this planet. The planet Turo is naturally divided so that there would be a tendency toward such division. There are two enormous belts of land around the globe, one running from about 20 degrees north of the equator to about 80 degrees north. This is my country, Lanor. To the south there is a similar great belt of land, of almost identical size, Kaxor. These two nations have existed for many thousands of our years.”"

entry 395      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 29th:

…Entering the level where the Hexagon Lights swarmed was somehow, dimly, like being immersed in water.  There was almost the same sense of being enveloped and covered by a medium which had treacherous possibilities.  Almost at once Jack Vickers’ head began to ache dully.  This was a disquieting symptom which the earlier colonists of [..........] had noticed, and which the present colonists avoided carefully.  It was evidently produced by a too-close contact with the Hexagon Lights.  The result, perhaps of an emanation, which was thrown off from their ghostly forms. 

Tense with nerve strain, Jack hurried as much as he could.  Once on the valley floor, he set his tractor boots to top speed.  Then he rushed forward, straight through the myriad shapes of Hexagon Lights, as tenuous as a vacuum, but beautiful as a designer’s most fragile vision – beautiful and cold…

entry 394      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 28th:

When he awoke and looked out, a thrill of discovery claimed him.  A misty fog obscured the outer entrance of the hermitage.  With little criss-crossing radium ray ejectors installed outside the port and operated from within, he cleared the obstruction to his vision and looked out.  The derelict was covered with a snowy mantle which was alive as it billowed and twisted.  He knew that this mantle was but the surging outer rank of the crowding material which had forced itself unrestrained inside the City of Fomar and was greedily exploring all nooks and crannies, assimilating anything of organic origin it touched.  Even the cable holding the ship to the hermitage was covered with the strange stuff.

Jasper realised a snug sense of security.  He no longer feared the white mist.  He was curious.  He wondered if there was any connection between the return of the white entity and the recent upheaval among [..........].  Had the malignant cloud caused the commotion, or had the latter event aroused and stimulated the mist?  Jasper wondered where the mist went and what it did when it was not clustered about the derelict and [..........].  He decided to experiment with it…

entry 393      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 27th:

Several flashes of light, some green, some red, flickered from the nose of the space-boat above.

Close on the heels of the signals, three bizarre figures charged out of the maw of a nearby cleft. The giant plant-men came toward their prey in long, swinging strides. Sand and rock fragments were scattered by their oval hoofs, as their great horny bodies bobbed eccentrically along. They bore no artificial weapons, yet they were fearsome enough with their long, green tendrils, coiling and uncoiling about them menacingly. The two globes, which were supported above each of their bodies by a forked stalk, swayed like the hooded heads of cobras that are preparing to strike. From one of each of those pairs of globes came excited pulsations of baneful light, some green, some red, and from the window at the nose of the space-boat there were answering signals.

entry 392      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 25th:

…they’ve been busting their backs for forty years and more trying to make green things grow.  But that’s hellishly difficult, because of the kind of planet [..........] is.  Plants have a tough time.  One, there’s not really enough light; two, there’s damn near no water at all; three, it’s way too hot.  So to make anything grow at all takes all kinds of technological wizardry and enormous effort.  First they had to nuke some tectonic faults to set off volcanos – that’s to bring whatever water vapor there is up out of the core (that’s the way the Earth got its water billions of years ago, they say).  Second, they had to cap the volcanos to catch the water vapor.  Third, they had to provide something cold enough to condense the vapor to a liquid; that’s the cold end of the Hilsch tubes – you see them on mountaintops all over [..........], big things like one-hole piccolos, with the hot end blasting gases out through the atmosphere to get lost in space and the cold end providing cooling for the cities – and generating a little electricity while they do it.  Fourth, they have to pipe that trickle of water to where things are planted, and they have to do it underground so it won’t boil away in the first ten feet.  Fifth, they have to have special, genetically tailored plants that can whisk that water up through their stems and leaves before letting it boil away…  

entry 391      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 20th:

An hour had gone by when Gower first suspected something out of the ordinary. The sensitive earphones in his helmet were attuned, not only to the tiny microphones that each man wore for inter-communication and for the reception of orders, but also to outside noises (sound was received in two ways: through the thin poorly-conducting air, and through ground vibration). They picked up a curious sound from somewhere in front of him, a slithering, sucking sound that popped and whispered like giant's kiss. George's hair prickled on the nape of his neck, and he quickly unslung his flashlight. A cone of narrow brilliance knifed out, moved in a slow, uneven arc, then stopped abruptly as it fastened on a moving creature. It was fantastic, nightmare figure. About four feet in height, it was, looking roughly like two eggs set one atop the other – a fat, oblong body covered with reddish hair, and a smaller ovoid head resting on narrow shoulders. The face, which seemed featureless in the uncertain light, twisted and grimaced constantly. Short arms carried a pair of metal instruments shaped much like the ancient miner's hand-lamp. There were scarcely any legs at all, the base of the body consisting of long, mobile flaps of flesh covered with innumerable powerful suction cups.

In an instant, young Gower whipped out his heat-ray weapon and fired. The ray sizzled comfortingly; a red glow joined the white of his torch. The mole-man seemed to fall back, roll around without leaving his feet, then bobbed upright again unharmed! George gasped, then began to laugh hysterically. The thing was just like one of those round-bottomed, weighted toys that couldn't be knocked over. He sprayed the thing again, without result. The impact of the rays apparently pushed it around, but in another moment it advanced and raised a stubby arm. George saw nothing but the hard ground, the hideous little mole-man, and the arm pointing at him, but instantly he felt a terrible sense of impending horror. The air about him became alive with unseen menace; his body tingled to an electric shock. Death's wing hovered close.

entry 390      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 19th:

They blacked out during the period of sharp deceleration. Now they were regaining consciousness – were being treated to a cruel and lovely illusion.

It seemed to Unk and Boaz that their ship was settling slowly among Skyscrapers over which their searchlights played.

“They aren’t shooting,” said Boaz.  “Either the war’s over, or it ain’t begun.”

The merry beams of light they saw were not from searchlights.  The beams came from tall crystals [..........].  Those crystals were catching beams from the sun, were bending them prismatically, playing them over the [..........].  Other crystals [..........] caught the beams and passed them on.

It was easy to believe that the searchlights were playing over a sophisticated civilization indeed.  It was easy to mistake the dense forest of giant blue-white crystals for skyscrapers, stupendous and beautiful…

entry 389      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 17th:

This river bottom seemed a gray sand. But we could not maintain footing. The water was empty—by which I mean there was no marine vegetation here—nothing that we could grip with our hands. And from behind us, the current wafted us gently but irresistibly forward.

I soon discovered that normally we would float in an upright position. We held ourselves so with our toes occasionally touching the soil, bouncing along like feathers in a gentle breeze.

The scene around us now more resembled a misty gray day on one of our sandy Earth-deserts than anything else I can call to mind. The ground was undulating gray sand, sloping upward to one side, and with a steady incline downward in front. And down this slope we were blowing.

Swim, you say? It never occurred to either of us! We were frightened; we clung to each other, striving to remain upright.

Very soon the light from overhead seemed to deepen. But other light—the diffused light inherent to the water itself—grew brighter by contrast. We were swept for¬ ward much faster—and down a much steeper hill. I know now that the change was caused by the river having plunged into that cliff-face, to become subterranean.

How far we were carried I cannot say. A mile perhaps. Or more. Rocky cliffs now seemed to pen us in; it was as though we were in a steep canyon, with a powerful wind driving us down through it.

Then abruptly we came to the end of the canyon. Open country lay before us. There were hills in the distance, with the level floor of the sea between us and them. Long stalks of vegetation reared themselves up through the water—so high that I could not see to their tops—slender spires of growing things, rooted below, branching out above with huge air-bladders to keep them floating—the whole waving slowly to and fro. On some of them there seemed what you might term fruit.

entry 388      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 16th:

Jack had fought his ship down through absolute blindness: clouds of gas that closed his own eyes and confused the radar, down to the skin of an unknown world.  He had been within a thousand feet of the ground before he could see anything but swirling yellow.  And then he landed and cut the rockets.

“Well, I couldn’t get out, of course,” he said.  “For forty or fifty reasons, somebody else will have to be the first man to set foot on [..........].  Somebody who doesn’t care much about breathing, I guess.  Anyway, there I was, looking at it.”  He shrugged his shoulders, looked baffled, and said a dirty word softly.  “I’ve told it a dozen times at lectures, but I’ve never got it over.  I tell ‘em the closest thing to it on Earth is the Painted Desert.  Maybe it is; I haven’t been there.

“The wind blows hard on [..........] and it tears up the rocks.  Soft rocks blow away and make the dust storms.  The hard parts – well, they stick out in funny shapes and colours.  Great big monument things, some of them.  And the most jagged hills and crevasses you can imagine.  It’s something like the inside of a cave, sort of – only not dark.  But the light is – funny.  Nobody ever saw light like that on Earth.  Orangy-brownish light, brilliant, very brilliant, but sort of threatening…”

entry 387      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 13th:

The broad top of the swiftly growing jungle was now visible to our naked eyes. There was something inexplicably sinister about the writhing profusion of swiftly growing jungle-top; almost as if a brooding mentality lurked below, watching and waiting. The entire cycle of the trees was going on before my eyes. They were withering and dying, while others grew visibly. Flower buds grew to gigantic sizes and burst in a brilliant corolla spray, almost immediately afterward throwing seed-spores into the wind. For some unknown reason, the life cycle upon this satellite was vastly speeded.

“Holy cats!” cried Gade in astonishment. “Watch those trees grow! Watch them! Why, those flower-buds come popping up off those twigs like popcorn. Watch them, will you?”

Delighted as a child with a new toy, Gade was leaning over the control desk, absorbed in the amazing spectacle. I, too, stared in mingled amazement and apprehension. The flowers bursting up from the jungle were of every shape and color, but there were no two alike. Some were fresh and new. Others were wilted and drooping; but from the heads of the drooping flowers rose fuzzy wind spores, torn loose by the wind to descend in a cloud through the twining branches of the jungle giants.

My eyes followed a seed-spore which floated from a great broad-fronded plant. Catching on the limp of a twining vine festooned to the upper branches, the amazing seed-spore took growth and extended a shoot into the air, but the shoot did not develop into a broad-fronded plant as had been the mother tree. Instead, it sent delicate tendrils drifting like lace into the wind.

I stared back at the jungle; looked quickly about. Yes, it was true. No two plants of the jungle were alike. Some were thick and heavy, others but erect cane-like shoots emitting sprays of leaves from the joints. Many vined and twined as parasites about the others. But no two plants were identically alike! Feathery foliage, broad fan-leaves, fern-like fronds and festooning drapery were all represented, but the foliage, no matter what shape, was constantly changing into some new unique formation.

Could it be? – yes, there could be no other explanation. Evolution on this strange satellite was so remarkably rapid, that each shoot adapted itself to the moment's environment rather than taking its characteristics from the mother plant. Instead of growing, these plants evolved into formations most favorable to the surroundings which chanced to fit their moments of conception.

entry 386      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 9th:

For a million historical years, men of my race inhabited Magong when she was yet a planet among planets, a free, rotating sphere with her own undisturbed orbit, midway between the orbits of this planet and that of the terrible, devastating war-world, Mars.  For a half of those million historical years, an ancestor of mine – a P’an-ku – sat on the imperial throne of Magong and held dominion over all her lands and seas.

When I was born, Crown Prince of Magong, my people had reached an advanced state of civilization, for much can be accomplished in a million historical years.  For more than ten thousand years, Magong had been in communication with Mars, the only other planet inhabited by intelligent beings.  For over five thousand years, our interplanetary ships had visited their planet, and their ships had made friendly calls on Magong, carrying passengers, manufactured merchandise, and raw materials…

entry 385      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 April 6th:   

Stepping out, my nostrils were greeted by a most foul stench. The air was thick, heavy, warm, and very bad of odour. It was barely breathable, and an excessive heat poured up from the ground itself, which soon sapped my energy very much.

As soon as I set out to walk about, my feet sunk into the soil and it was necessary to keep pulling them out, which was accompanied by a most discomforting sucking noise. The ground seemed more like some of the semi-liquids that our scientists produce in their laboratories when they get temperatures high enough to almost melt ice!

For awhile I squshed my way along. Then a section of the ground before me swelled while I watched into a large hemispherical dome and snapped. A cloud of noxious vapour was released and swirled past me. It was most peculiarly like a bubble.

Coining upon a large pitted yellowish rock, towering isolated out of the ground, I stopped and examined it. It was composed of some porous hard shiny substance unlike anything nature produces. There was a most unnatural feeling about the thing.

There was a movement behind me and turning I saw one of the beings native to [..........]. Oozing from a hole in the ground, came a large shapeless white object having neither arms, legs, eyes, ears, nor other external appendages. It had a mouth and a tubular several foot long slimy body.

entry 384      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

2024 March 31st:

Lloyd hesitated a moment, then flung open the door. Eagerly we gazed out – upon a great expanse of blue water, reaching to a horizon which was remarkably close. Between the car and the sea a level slope a hundred yards wide led to the shore.

We tumbled out into this home-like landscape, and there, as we stopped to look about, another surprise awaited us. For to our right, a tremendous disk, striped with broad, red bands and whitish-yellow ones, spread over and enormous part of the heavens – fully one-fourth of that quarter of the sky, while on our left shone a beautiful star – the sun – with an apparent diameter of about one-fifth that of the Earth. The sky on the side of the star was of the fairest blue, merging near the gigantic disk until it became a deep blue-black.

Behind us, where our attention was next drawn, rose a forest of titanic green fern-like trees – such flora as must have existed on our own planet during the carboniferous period. A hundred feet and more those huge fronds rose into the air, gracefully swaying in the breeze – giving to the whole scene the aspect of a weird dream.

“Where are we?” I asked Lloyd.

He was gazing about him with the light of growing conviction in his eyes.

“We are on [..........]” he replied, and both Lenhardt and Rosonoff nodded their agreement.


For several seconds we gazed silently about us, then came an exclamation of surprise from Lenhardt. Following his pointing finger with our eyes, we were amazed to see, barely a hundred feet away, among the tall, thick reeds along the shore, a titanic grotesque creature – a veritable dragon, it seemed, from some ancient folk-tale.

The monster measured at least eighty feet in length, and the highest part of its back was some twenty-five feet from the ground. Its color was slate-blue, and its whole skin was a mass of great armor scales. A row of sharp horns ran along its spine, to taper down gradually along the massive tail. The head was about two feet long and one foot wide, and the most hideous I had ever seen. Besides a powerful beak, the head was armed with six long horns, three on each side, and two long, sharp saber-teeth protruded from the upper jaw. One of these, I noticed, had been broken, no doubt in some fierce battle.

That fiendish beast regarded us a minute, then it advanced, its giant feet striking the earth with dull and even thuds.

entry 383      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 24th:

The vegetation around him was strange; foliage of grotesque shape, odd-looking cork-like bark on the trees, queer plants and flowers under foot. But the ground was even and firm. He had no trouble in his desperate race to overtake Hulgar – not until some sort of growth caught his to and suddenly tripped him. He lay for an instant gasping for breath, then started to pick himself up.

But he discovered that something had hold of one foot. He looked down. The green tendril of a plant had become twisted around his ankle. He reached out to free himself; but to his amazement, another green, twining creeper curled itself around his arm.

He twisted his torso erect then, a sudden fear dilating his eyes. All around him he saw more snake-like tendrils pointing in his direction. Those farthest away were bending and twisting like serpents. The nearest ones were fastening themselves upon his legs, curling over and around, reaching hungrily for the upper part of his body.

The ghastly realization dawned upon him that he had come in contact with some sort of horrible man-eating plant, that in a minute or two more he would be hopelessly trapped like a small animal in a snare.

entry 382      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

2024 March 17th:

GRIM-lipped, Lon forced his way bodily through clinging vines and snake-like lianas. The slovenly natives made no attempt to keep their trails clear. Around stretched the limitless floral jungle that covered most of [..........]’s surface.

Lon barely glanced at strange lifeforms that people on Earth paid good money to see in museums. There was the talking-lily whose shrill gibberish sounded so much like human utterance. The harpoon-cactus whose prehensile vine could fling its barbed end a full ten feet, to snare some unwary small mammal and later digest it within a sac-like appendage. The python-vine which deliberately wound itself around its victim and crushed out its life.

Most of the [..........] plants were carnivorous and took an appreciable toll of the natives, as well as of the hordes of small animals that browsed in the jungle. But Lon was in no danger of his life. [..........] had never known large animals and consequently the preying plants were not capable of killing so large and strong a creature as an Earthman. At times cordlike vines whipped about his ankles, but he simply kicked himself free, tearing them apart. Yet he was annoyed at the delay.

Suddenly he was startled to hear a sharp scream behind him. He whirled to see Oyloy being dragged several feet off the trail toward a huge, bulbous, quivering plant. The [..........] was struggling desperately but could not worm his feet out of the twisting liana. When the opening of the great pitcher-plant turned his way, ready to engulf its victim, Lon flung himself forward, grasped the vine in his gloved hand and ripped it apart. The plant shuddered and twisted convulsively with its semi-sentient life.

Lon jerked the [..........] to his feet and shook him angrily. “I thought I told you to stay away, you poor excuse for a scarecrow. Now go back!”

“Oyloy afraid!” entreated the native, rolling his big eyes. “Come along?”

Lon growled and seriously contemplated kicking a native for the first time, but thought better of it and once more took up the trail. The [...........] scampered along behind, like his shadow, motivated by some strange psychology which Lon gave up trying to fathom, or change.

entry 381      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 15th:

The rocks cringed before Zutelix 1-Radd, who sprawled upon his mountain of frozen slush. 

The maladroit rocks who dared to obscure his view were not, of course, as alive as he.  They were not, in fact, alive at all, by the standards of the Inner Worlds; but out here on Yuzmur, Home of the Highest, even the dross of existence could be sufficiently sentient to need lessons in behaviour.

Zutelix 1-Radd, high upon his frowning eminence, rumbled and shifted his weight, not enough to set off an eruption of liquescent nitrogen under his bulk, merely enough to send tremors rippling outward through the vicinity of his mountain.  This caused yet more wincing tension in surrounding portions of the planet’s crust, but he gave scant thought to the scene’s potential for havoc.  Ah, if he could move now as he would later be able to!  If he could borrow some of that future power and use it immediately!  But no, he must wait.  His time would come, as surely as the revolution of Yuzmur around that extra-bright star which shone amid the faintly luminous dust-band of the ecliptic...

entry 380      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 11th:

On the fifth driving period out, the terrain began to change.  It looked the same, but every now and then it felt different.  On two occasions I felt my wheels spin, with a howl of protest from my engine.  Then, quite suddenly, the Bug gave a lurch; I gunned my motor and nothing happened.

I could see the dull gray stuff seeping up around the hubs, thick and tenacious, splattering around in steaming gobs as the wheels spun.  I knew what had happened the moment the wheels gave and, a few minutes later, they chained me to the tractor and dragged me out of the mire.  It looked for all the world like thick gray mud, but it was a pit of molten lead, steaming under a soft layer of concealing ash.

I picked my way more cautiously then.  We were getting into an area of recent surface activity; the surface was really treacherous…

entry 379      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 10th:   

Standing in the long control room, Ken Darren was watching one of the great vision disks. An abyss of hot, golden radiance filled it—the illimitable fiery sea of [..........]. Nydron, within the silvery splendor of her protecting etheric sphere, hung like a white bubble in that gulf of flame.

Out of that bubble came the ships of the xyli.

They were black specks, scores of them. They grew into the arrows of slender, tapering vessels. Their glinting, dark sides were marked with rows of ports. At the sharp stem of each flickered the hot violet of its propulsion disk. They were gigantic, and they moved with the grace and the swiftness of a strange, incredible power.

Watching them, Ken drew in his breath with awe-struck, unwilling admiration.

“They are beautiful,” he whispered, “and dreadful. Like the patterned serpents of the hills of Pylos. And the builders of them are to be the masters of the planets when mankind is dead.”

Then a faint and misty cone of light reached out from the bow of one black ship. The color of it was a deep orange, verging upon redness. It fastened upon one geodesic flier, the Explorer. The attacked ship veered back and forth a little. But its movements were clumsy; it quickly became helpless.

The cone seemed to thicken; it darkened, curdled. And the silvery envelope of the dynamic space shell abruptly vanished from the Explorer.

Its naked, riveted hull was at first starkly black against the golden flame of [..........]. But it began to glow quickly and increasingly red, heated by the terrific radiation. Abruptly it sagged off its course and fell toward the fiery core of [..........].

entry 378      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 8th:   

He looked out over Venicity.  From his apartment, the topography resembled that of a lunar crater.  In the middle was a giant concrete plain, the rocketport.  From the edges of the rocketport, the size of the buildings increased gradually; at a third of the distance from the center, they were at maximum height; thereafter, they decreased gradually until one and two story structures nibbled at the surrounding forest.

Five million people and in ten years there would undoubltedly be seven, a sizable metropolis even for Earth.  That didn’t mean that the population of [..........] could compare with the home planet.  [..........] was settled differently.  Newcomers started with the cities; only later did they venture out into the vast wild lands.  [..........] was civilized, after a fashion, but it wasn’t a copy of Earth.

entry 377      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 7th:

Below them could be seen an extensive city, built beside an arm of the sea, which, instead of being blue, was of an ethereal, rosy tint. There were towering palaces and noble buildings, vast embankments and terraces, surrounded by beautiful gardens, amidst which could be distinguished stately colonnades, winding streams, and glistening fountains and cascades.

The Ivenia swept downwards with a swift, gliding motion, in a series of wide circles, like some giant bird poised on outstretched wings. There was no vibration, no jar, no motion even of the wide-spreading wings as she sank lightly and gracefully through the air.

And as she descended, the air below became filled with what at first had the appearance of a great flight of birds.

Gerald asked what they were, and Monck bade him look again through his glasses. Then he saw that what he had mistaken for distant birds were in reality numbers of flying-machines mounting upwards to meet the Ivenia.

A little later these smaller air-craft were swarming round the great aerostat, the occupants uttering shouts and cries of joyous welcome to their returning king. These flying-machines were of all shapes and kinds, and they thronged round Ivanta's superb 'chariot of the skies' as might a swarm of steamers, yachts, and other craft round a mighty warship bearing our own king back to England's shores after a foreign trip.

Finally, the wondrous structure landed easily and quietly upon the ground in the midst of a vast crowd of people; and, as she came to rest, King Ivanta stepped out from the conning-tower and showed himself to the shouting throng.

entry 376      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 6th:

"We realize that we've made a mistake," a strange voice said. "But it's lonely here. You unfamiliar organisms were new, interesting. We thought we might be friends. But we bitterly regret it. We understand now."

Garth stared wildly. Had he gone mad already? The crystals flamed, weaving dim veils of gold and scarlet, and purple and green.

"Your minds are strange to us," the voice went on. "They give off wavelengths of which we know nothing. We do not know about hate, fear and love. We can but guess at them, and sensory impulses are unknown to us. In some manner we do not understand, we have caused unfavorable reactions in the organisms that have come into our sphere of life. Their mind-waves are confused, and then lost…  But for the first time we can communicate with you."

Why was there light in the crystals? Why had the cold torchbeam broken to a full spectrum?

"Yes, we're alive," the voice went on. "You call us crystals. We're carbon, as you are, but static. We came into being with this planet and we'll go out of being with it. We neither die nor change…

“…Solar radiations destroy our thoughts by introducing counter-vibrations. That's why we're powerful only in the screening shadow of this planet.

"We meant no harm. We wanted contact, not destruction. It's very lonely here in the eternal dark, the eternal silence, the eternal thought. We might have helped you. Instead, we have—is killed the thought—killed you. We're glad that this contact has been possible, for we wanted to explain and to tell you that we'll never try it again. As soon as we sense the presence of one of your organisms, we shall cease oscillating until it's gone. You need never—is fear the sensation?—fear us.

"We're sorry. We meant no harm. But we're lonely. Pure thought is wonderful. There's no limit to it. But we're so near the limit… And we're lonely. Lonely. Lonely."

The fires died out of the crystals like fireflies drowned in the mist. Darkness, black and unbroken and cold, followed. And there was silence, utter and complete. The whispering had stopped for all time.

entry 375      contributed by Zendexor

>>  here's where this is

2024 March 2nd:

SPRINGING up, as if in actual miniature reproduction, was one of the [……….] of [……….]. There was a section of dryland territory on the one side of moonlit [……….] Pyramus, the spires and minarets and glistening nickel-cobalt roadways of the city on the other. Lights of many ronsals, the vehicles whose elongated bodies were supported a few feet above the roads by the energies with which they were charged, could be discerned plainly. The traffic was that of mid-evening, proceeding at a leisurely pace.

“It’s Copais!” breathed Coler. “Right!” said Kal.

“And only sixty miles from Risapar.”

entry 374      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 25th:

…We woke up this morning feeling as though we had slept under a pile of rocks. The gravity, frankly, is horrible. Even arising from the floor was an effort. We had to turn on our stomachs, slowly push ourselves to hands and knees, and stagger erect while holding on to the wall hand-rails. Then we stood there swaying, while our leg muscles gradually took up the burden of our five hundred pounds of weight.

We felt a little better after eating, and drinking water. Our first job was to figure out where we were. Swinerton climbed to the conning tower and took a look around. He couldn’t see very far in the thick, cloudy mist.

It is distinctly a reddish mist, as of course this is the [..........] area. It is never still. It whips back and forth tempestuously, often shaking the ship. Our gauge showed that the atmospheric pressure was ninety pounds to the square inch. We suspect the vapors are very nearly fluid, from pressure alone, down here at the surface.

The lighting is very peculiar down here. Above are six thousand miles of heavy vapor, including krypton, methane, ammonia, bromine hydride, heavy hydrogen, and polymerized nitrogen. If there’s oxygen, it can only be in some combined form, as nitrous oxide.

Sunlight barely worms through this gas-porridge, as a ghastly pale glow. None of the moons can be seen through the pall. We feel as though we’re at the bottom of a gaseous ocean, in a submarine.

Swinerton suddenly yelped.

“Life!” he gasped. “There’s life down here!”

Halloway and I saw it ourselves a moment later, as it flapped past our window. A small winged creature with a hawk’s beak that circled the lifeboat as though in curiosity, then lazily soared away. It seemed almost to float in the dense medium, more like a fish swimming than a bird flying. But just imagine any creature living in this hell-brew air! Swinerton says its metabolism must be utterly alien to anything we can conceive.

entry 373      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

2024 February 24th:

Trail’s End, [..........]’s single community, cowering at the foot of a towering black mountain, seemed deserted.  There was no stir of life about the buildings that huddled between the spacefield and the mountain.  The spiralling tower of the radio station climbed dizzily spaceward and beside it squatted the tiny radio shack.  Behind it stood the fueling station and the hangar, while half a mile away loomed the larger building that housed the laboratories of the Solar Science commission.

Caroline moved closer to Gary.

“It seems so lonely,” she whispered.  “I don’t like loneliness now…  after…”

Gary stirred uneasily, scraping the heavy boots of his spacesuit over the pitted rock.  “It’s always lonely enough,” he said.  “I wonder where they are.”

entry 372      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 22nd:

There was a mild breeze, for [..........], but it drove a steady scud of sand across the broken plain.  The angry storm-colored light was diffused by airborne dust till it seemed to pervade the land, and even through his helmet and earphones Hollister was aware of the wind-jammer and the remote banging of thunder.

A new racket grew in heaven, stabbing jets and then the downward hurtle of sleek metal.  The rocket’s glider wings were fully extended, braking her against the updraft, and the pilot shot brief blasts to control his yawing vessel and bring her down on the markings.  Wheels struck the hard-packed sand, throwing up a wave of it…

entry 371      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 18th:

“You understood. I want the Earth recognition signal at once — and after that, the surrender of the Dome.” The very calmness of the husky tones was a threat.


“I warn you, Dari Thomas. If would be the better part of wisdom for you to yield willingly what I ask. You will give in eventually, and the means of persuasion I shall use will not be exactly — pleasant.”

“You’ll get nothing from me!”

The outlander’s lidless eyes were filmed with a gray membrane. His head thrust forward, the feathered ruff beneath it bristled. Dari braced himself to withstand the swooping pounce that seemed imminent, the slash of the sharp beak. A burring rattle broke the momentary hush. The [..........] relaxed, turned to the [..........] from whom the sound had come and replied with staccato vibrance.

As the cave filled with a whirring tumult Darl had a chance to examine the [..........] natives crowding around his prostrate body. They were little yellow midgets, ranging from eighteen inches to two feet in height. Half of their small stature was taken up by snouted heads, with saucer-like, crimson eyes, and long white tusks jutting from foam-flecked mouths. The trunks were globular. The spindling legs and thin arms ended in sharp claws. There was an impression of animal ferocity about these tiny beings that stamped them as utter savages.

His captor was speaking to the Earthman again, his horny beak parted in what might have been a grim smile. “My friends remind me that I promised you to them. They have not forgotten how you and your fellows drove them from their burrows...”

entry 370      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 14th:   

Scott Hernandez paused in his work, as he did at the end of every long day, to watch Jupiter set and the sky transform from its usual light orange to brief crimson, and then deep, starry black. It was this magnificent display he was waiting for; the luminous river of the milky way, the dancing aurora caused by Jupiter’s colossal magnetic field[..........]. He imagined, as he always did, what it would have been like to be one of the early explorers he had idolized as a child, Natasha Hin or Viron Zuff, and be the first to set foot on one of those spinning orbs.

But he had missed his chance. He had come home from Occator Flight Academy on Ceres, a certified astrogator, to discover his mother was sick and his brother Bradley had barely been keeping the farm together on his own. He was furious with them for keeping their troubles from him, but his dream of boarding an exploratory rocket and blasting off for the frontier was well known to them. His brother told him they would sooner have lost the farm than call him back from school. It was that very selflessness that made him realize he had to stay, that he couldn't let them lose the farm.

It wasn’t that he was too old to make a spacer, he was only forty, and astrogators were welcome everywhere, from the oldest ice hauler to the most advanced government vessel. It was that he felt too old. Rocketry had evolved since his days at Occator, and he suspected his skills, already rusty from disuse, would be utterly useless on a modern vessel.

Bradley sometimes half-heartedly suggested he look for a job on one of the “Grand Tour” cruise ships that luxuriously floated between Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. He would argue that they would provide a suitably low pressure environment for Scott to bring his abilities up to date. But they both knew that wouldn’t be enough for him. Flying several thousand tons of rocket for the entertainment of the rich wasn’t the same as penetrating the unknown.

Besides, Scott had learned to be content on the farm. He spent his time trouble-shooting the harvester drones and going down to New Memphis, the nearby capital, for drinks with his friends. Sometimes, when his friends had gone home, he would find his way to the Mary Down Docks and watch the sleek, silver rockets push their way to the sky.

entry 369      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 12th:

... They were awakened by loud shouts and the noise of exploding guns. When they rushed to the mouth of their cave a strange spectacle met their gaze.

Swarming across the space north between the Aerolite and the northern range of mountains an army of mammoth cricket-shaped things were approaching. They came in military formation, hopping with steady, persistent leaps, measured to an exactness that enabled each company to land and leave the ground at the same time and in perfect unison. Each cricket was as large as a man, and possessed six legs and two long sharp antennas extending straight out from the eyes. They travelled on the four rear legs, and held long, sharp, steel-pointed lances in their front antennas and two front legs. Their backs were hard and black, and Epworth wondered as he noted the strength of the coating if they were bullet proof.

That they were possessed of a rare degree of intelligence was evidenced by their military approach, and their splendid formation. That they could use these weapons the Americans did not doubt, and congratulated themselves that they were not the objects of attack.

When he turned his eyes toward the Aerolite, Epworth saw that Toplinsky was already fighting. Many of his men were backed against the half-built wall of the house, and were sharp-shooting with their rifles.

“If Toplinsky had only a few projectiles of liquid air,” Billy observed regretfully, “he might teach these Things something about war.”

“As it is he and his men are going to have the fight of their lives,” Epworth replied soberly.

“Look at their leaders!” Joan exclaimed in amazement. “They have some kind of marvellous growth on their backs.”

Epworth, who never went without a pair of binoculars, put the glasses to his eyes, and studied the things she pointed out. The things he saw on top of the crickets were more wonderful than the huge insects.

They were men-shaped humps riding on the back of the crickets. At least their small bodies, legs and arms were shaped like men but their heads were enormous knotty projections with eye openings an inch and a half in diameter.

“Do I see properly?” the young man inquired, handing the glasses to Joan. “Do I see some kind of a man with a metallic-like head?”

Joan examined the riders thoughtfully. They were now approaching with incredible rapidity and she got a better view of them.

entry 368      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 10th:   

It was a strangely luminous planetscape they looked down upon, a world shimmering everywhere with the dusky blue radiance they had noticed from afar. They had thought that faint luminescence a trick of reflected sunlight, but they saw now that it was somehow inherent in this world. Through that dusky blue haze they looked down upon a weirdly forbidding landscape.

Low, jagged, barren mountains rose like fangs bared at the dark, starstudded sky. Beyond their rocky slopes stretched dim deserts, wide blank wastes upon which moved little whirls of dust. And all this dreary landscape of eternal twilight was wrapped in the uncanny faint blue radiance.

"It's queer, the way it all shines," muttered Sual Av. "But I can't see anything dangerous down there."

"There's something dangerous there — terribly so," Thorn said tautly. "If thereweren't, this world wouldn't have swallowed up so many hundreds of explorers in the last nine centuries!"

"There's air of some kind down there, anyway," old Stilicho quavered. "See them there whirling dust-devils?"

"But there can't be an atmosphere here!" Gunner declared. "That would mean that [..........] is comparatively warm — and what would keep it warm at this distance from the sun?"

entry 367      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 9th:

Carson bent down and pulled up a cluster of tiny green plants.  Examining them closely he observed that each consisted of a transparent globular structure, no larger than a pinhead, mounted on a thin stalk of pallid green.  Inside each minute globe was a mass of bright green fronds, almost microscopic in dimensions.  He pressed the stalks between his fingers and found them dry and brittle.

“It’s really a plant within a plant,” explained the girl called Competence.  “The fern-like growth develops inside in its own spherical greenhouse, which traps and conserves the warmth of the sun.  It also acts as a storage tank for moisture drawn from the deeper levels of subsoil by extremely long roots.  Biologists believe that this plant is the final attempt at adaptation to adverse conditions by [..........] vegetation.  It’s the only surviving species.”

They were standing on a vast level expanse of [..........] plain, on which the green vegetation lay like a thick carpet…

entry 366      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 February 4th:

As they went on, the fog seemed to darken ahead of them. Chris spied a coppery gleam high overhead—the dripping, horizontal wires of the Curtain that encircled the Compound. Then he was at the edge of the jungle.

The Terrestrians call it that out of habit, but the gweelen is no such jungle as was ever seen on Earth. There were no trees, no looping vines, no rustling leaves. Immense fungi towered fifty, seventy-five, a hundred feet into the steaming air, trunks and thick branches grotesquely contorted. Instead of foliage there were the fringed umbrellas of monstrous toadstools; instead of underbrush, coiled, pallid stems and crumpled clumps of membranous stuff resembling diseased seaweed.

The colors of the gweelen were orange and purple, a sickly white and the gray-yellow of corruption, but never green. And in the gweelen a thick silence brooded always, relieved only by the eternal drip of moisture from its dark roof.

Gree appeared out of the haze. A cord of twisted banta now suspended from his neck—a two-foot, hollow cylinder out of the open top of which protruded the gum-blackened sharp points of a half-dozen throw-sticks. He handed a second, similar quiver to Toom, and then they were on the move again.

The Earthman could not make out how the natives knew which way Fran had gone. Not that the kid was an expert woodsman or had taken pains to conceal his route. It was the gweelen itself that had obliterated the traces of his passage. The stump of a branch Chris broke off in passing was sending out a new tentacle almost before the fragment reached the ground; a spore-ball burst and its spill of black dust turned scarlet at once with cilia of new growth to blot out his footmarks.

The light faded to a lurid semi-darkness. The Weenies went swiftly and Chris could only follow them. There was no sound save the soft thud of his own boots and the incessant patter of rain, and the three from the Station were the only sentient beings in this obscurity.

entry 365      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>> here's where this is

2024 January 31st:   

…I pulled the door open…

And damn near went blind.  The visor on my helmet adjusted as quickly as it could, and the wide duraglass windows struggled to compensate as well, but they couldn’t dim it completely.  There was this incandescent… thing blazing right outside.  It floated by the window, flickering brilliantly like a nuclear candle, and it moved, pushing against the shields and making them ripple.  Even through my clamped eyelids, I saw it flit luminously back and forth, reaching out with tendrils like it was trying to get in.  And the heat – it hit me like a wave!

I slammed the door.  I’m not ashamed to admit, I was sweating, and from more than just the heat.  I stood there staring straight ahead, watching the afterimage dance before my eyes, taking deep breaths and trying to get a grip…

entry 364      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 28th:   

He went, going very softly, out toward the tower of stone. And there was no sound in all that land.

The last of the twilight had faded. The ice gleamed, faintly luminous under the stars, and there was light beneath it, a soft radiance that filled all the valley with the glow of a buried moon.

Stark tried to keep his eyes upon the tower. He did not wish to look down at what lay under his stealthy feet.

Inevitably, he looked.

The temples and the palaces glittering in the ice....

Level upon level, going down. Wells of soft light spanned with soaring bridges, slender spires rising, an endless variation of streets and crystal walls exquisitely patterned, above and below and overlapping, so that it was like looking down through a thousand giant snowflakes. A metropolis of gossamer and frost, fragile and lovely as a dream, locked in the clear, pure vault of the ice.

Stark saw the people of the city passing along the bright streets, their outlines blurred by the icy vault as things are half obscured by water. The creatures of vision, vaguely shining, infinitely evil.

He shut his eyes and waited until the shock and the dizziness left him. Then he set his gaze resolutely on the tower, and crept on, over the glassy sky that covered those buried streets.

Silence. Even the wind was hushed.

entry 363      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 22nd:

The space-dog stood three feet high at the shoulder. Its body was of dusty, mineraline gray flesh that had an inorganic look. Its four legs ended in heavy digging paws, and its mouth was furnished with great grinding tusks. It had no nostrils, for the creature was not an air-breathing animal.

It was, in fact, one of a unique species. The early explorers who first visited [..........] had been amazed to find these creatures living on that airless little world. They were product of an evolution working without atmosphere, creatures able to assimilate the inorganic elements they dug from the ground, and consume them by a chemical process other than oxidization. They had dim telepathic powers by which their rudimentary minds communed.

entry 362      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 21st:  

The web had been stretched between two large gray leafless trees of the sort I had observed near the beach, but without the red tips to the branches. Nearby was a wood of similar but slightly smaller trees, bordering on a field of thickly matted silver-green grass, very similar in color. In this field were grazing a herd of pale green insects a little larger than sheep, with long trailing antennae.

These creatures swayed from side to side, lifting first one foot after another as they munched the matted grass. On the sides of some of them clung one or more bright red parasites, resembling lobsters in size and appearance; but their green hosts did not seem to mind or even notice them. Nor did they notice me, for that matter, as I passed between them across the field.

On the further side of the field was a road, built of concrete, resembling in every way such concrete roads as we have on the earth; and along it I set out, whither I knew not.

[...]  For a while the road ran between silver-green fields; then entered a wood. On the gaunt gray trees hung a tangle of tropical vines, and between the trees grew some kind of small shrub with large heart-shaped leaves, on each leaf of which there sat motionless one or more purple grasshoppers about four inches in length.

In the distance I occasionally caught sight of some strange sort of bird—as I thought—flitting in tandem pairs from tree to tree. A multitude of tiny lizards, resembling miniature kangaroos, hopped about on the concrete and by the side of the road...

entry 361      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 13th: 

Across a bleak and desolate frozen plain, not fifty feet distant from his own cruiser, was the other space ship. A dark, sullen mass; unlighted and grim. About it, circling in an ever-narrowing net, a host of greenish flame-folk stood; their ghoulishly phosphorescent bodies flickering pallidly against the dreadful umbra. Tall as two men, they were, slim, ever-changing wisps of light that glimmered like the cold fox-fire of distant Earth.

From their tactile bodies strange pseudopods of flame licked out again and again. Ghastly emanations that simulated limbs of flesh-and-blood creatures. There was no recognizable substance of shape that composed them. Only a constant flux of quavering motion, somehow baleful and threatening. Their light was a light that cast no gleam among them. It seemed self-contained, The light of absorption.

The unbroken circle that had surrounded the other ship was ruptured now. Some of the flame folk had noticed the cruiser. Already a tiny group of the green flame-folk were moving across the metal plain to investigate. There was a quivering excitement in the creatures' fitful gleaming. A sort of greedy, licking hunger in their cold presence.

entry 360      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 7th:   

“We came down in a wide valley between a couple of mountains, where we were sure the ground would be pretty solid.  We weren’t going to make the mistake we did on Rhea!  It was a good landing, and we climbed into our suits to go outside.  It’s funny how impatient you always are to do that, no matter how many times you’ve set down on a new world.

“Of course, [..........] hasn’t much gravity – only a hundredth of Earth’s.  That was enough to keep us from jumping off into space.  I like it that way: you knew you’d always come down safely again if you waited long enough.

“It was early in the morning when we landed.  [..........] has a day a bit shorter than Earth’s – it goes round Saturn in twenty-two hours, and as it keeps the same face towards the planet its day and month are the same length – just as they are on the Moon.  We’d come down in the northern hemisphere, not far from the equator, and most of Saturn was visible above the horizon.  It looked quite weird – a huge crescent horn sticking up into the sky, like some impossibly bent mountain thousands of miles high…”

entry 359      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 6th:

Before him was the tiny lake, of an emerald green hue in the flashing sunlight. Around its shores, and covering the adjacent, softly rolling countryside as far as eye could reach, was a thick growth of carmine-tinted vegetation: squat, enormous-leaved bushes; low, sturdy trees, webbed together by innumerable vines. To left and right, miniature mountains reared ragged crests over the abbreviated horizon, making the spot he was in a peaceful, lovely valley.

He sighed. There was everything here a man could wish for—provided he could win it! Loosening his ray-pistol in its holster, he started to walk slowly around the lake to choose a site for the house he intended to build. On the opposite shore he found a place that looked suitable.

A few yards back from the water's edge, curling in a thick crescent like a giant sleeping on its side, was a precipitous outcropping of rock; curious stuff, rather like granite, that gleamed with dull opalescence in the brilliant sunlight. With that as a sort of natural buttress behind the house, and with the beautiful lake as his front dooryard, he'd have a location that any man might envy.

entry 358      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2024 January 3rd:   

Captain Hew Mills, UN Space Arm, currently attached to the Solar System Exploration Program [..........], stood gazing out of the transparent dome that surmounted the two-story Site Operations Control building.  The building stood just clear of the ice, on a rocky knoll overlooking the untidy cluster of domes, vehicles, cabins, and storage tanks that went to make up the base he commanded.  In the dim gray background around the base, indistinct shadows of rock buttresses and ice cliffs vanished and reappeared through the sullen, shifting vapors of the methane-ammonia haze.  Despite his above-average psychological resilience and years of strict training, an involuntary shudder ran down his spine as he thought of the thin triple wall of the dome – all that separated him from this foreboding, poisonous, alien world, cold enough to freeze him as black as coal and as brittle as glass in seconds.  [..........] was, he thought, an awful place…

entry 357      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 31st:   

The great fungus forest that covered much of [……….] stretched about them in the cold mist, illuminated by the combined [……….] and moonlight. All around the little clearing in which they stood towered the enormous fungi, huge gray growths in the form of bulbous spheres, drawing their sustenance by parasitism from the thick mat of spongy mosses underfoot.

Nothing appeared stirring except a few “diggers"—furry little beasts with flat, spade-like noses, whose red eyes fearfully watched from tunnel-mouths nearby. The only sounds were the occasional zooming drone of pinkly luminous “fire bats” winging through the towering fungi, and the long, distant ululation of a pack of “climbers."

The sky over the Planeteers’ heads was weirdly magnificent…[..…….]

"I don't hear anything,” muttered Sual Av finally. “But the noise of the ship landing may have attracted—"

"John, look out!” yelled Gunner Welk suddenly. “A slith!"

One of the smaller bulbous gray fungi of the forest had suddenly begun to move. It came toward them with rocket-speed, a charge almost faster than the eye could follow.

Thorn knew it was slith as he flung his atom-gun to his shoulder. That creature alone could so perfectly mimic the gray fungi by means of its protective coloration, Thorn glimpsed the charging thing over the sights of his weapon for an instant, a bulbous, oily gray monster ten feet high, its dumpy, shapeless body running with incredible swiftness on thick little legs, the two cold, bright eyes in the front of its faceless body flaming as its white-fanged mouth gaped unbelievably wide.

He fired and missed. His shell exploded blindingly just behind the charging slith. Gunner fired an instant later, and his atom-shell hit the creature's side. When the flare of the shell vanished, they saw the great gray mass lying unstirring only a dozen feet from them.  

entry 356      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 30th:

…A towering cliff of a black, basaltic rock cut off the sunlight, and the deep night shadow of an airless world surrounded them.  Before them, the shadow reached out and ended in knife-edged abruptness into an all-but-unbearable blaze of white light, that glittered from myriad crystals along a rocky ground.
  ‘Space!’ gasped Donovan.  ‘It looks like snow.’  And it did.
   Powell’s eyes swept the jagged glitter of [……….] to the horizon and winced at the gorgeous brilliance.
   ‘This must be an unusual area,’ he said.  ‘The general albedo of [……….] is low and most of the soil is gray pumice.  Something like [……….], you know.  Beautiful, isn’t it?’
   He was thankful for the light filters in their visiplates.  Beautiful or not, a look at the sunlight through straight glass would have blinded them inside of half a minute.
   Donovan was looking at the spring thermometer on his wrist.  ‘Holy smokes, the temperature is eighty centigrade!’
   Powell checked his own and said:  ‘Um-m-m.  A little high.  Atmosphere, you know.’
   ‘On [……….]?  Are you nuts?’
   ‘[……….] isn’t really airless,’ explained Powell, in absent-minded fashion…

entry 355      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 24th:   

The commander’s description of a spinyback was concise and accurate, but it left out several interesting details. For one thing, a spinyback has a long, mobile snout, two large ears that wave back and forth gently, and two emotional purple eyes. The males have pliable spines of a deep crimson color along the backbone that seem to delight the female of the species. Combine these with a scaly, muscular tail and a brain by no means mediocre, and you have a spinyback – or at least you have one if you can catch one.

It was just such a thought that occurred to Olaf Johnson as he sneaked down from the rocky eminence toward the herd of twenty-five spinybacks grazing on the sparse, gritty undergrowth. The nearest spinies looked up as Olaf, bundled in fur and grotesque with attached oxygen nosepiece, approached. However, spinies have no natural enemies, so they merely gazed at the figure with languidly disapproving eyes and returned to their crunchy but nourishing fare. 

entry 354      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 23rd:  

The long peninsula was dusty and dead.  Here all new life had failed to take and a gray haze rose under Boldre’s slow-bounding feet as he ran.  The dust remained suspended in the still air as though to make the way he had come…  Overhead, the thick layer of cloud was nearly black, paradoxically threatening a storm and heavy rain although its humidity was still trapped high above.

The light was trapped as well.  It seemed to lie in its own strata between cloud and ground, thus creating another paradox of reflection…

…The crossing had to be carefully timed so he could take refuge in one of the prepared places every now and again.  It was safe on a few of the small islands.

He was glad he had to cross [..........] and not [..........] because it was wider and a little calmer…

entry 353      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 16th:   

Presently the compound loomed mysteriously from the grey opaqueness, taking shape as a simple corral of electrically-charged wires in the form of a rough square. In it, sitting or standing motionless and silent, were ten of the strangest of all creatures to be found on any of the known planets of the universe.

These were the chloro-men of [..........].

Through some unfathomable quirk of nature, this nearly extinct species represented a curious link between plant and animal worlds. Averaging about five feet in height, they were only semi-vertebrate in structure, having tough cables of cartilage supporting their bodies instead of bones. Their skin was a porous, bark-like substance, at once flexible and unbelievably tough. About seventy per cent of their “blood stream” was a compound almost identical with chlorophyl, the element which enables plants to absorb the energy of the sunlight and use it for conversion of carbon dioxide into starches and proteins.

The presence of this chlorophyl in their veins gave the chloro-men a greenish tinge—hence the colloquial reference to them as “greenies.” They had eyes and rudimentary ears, but neither mouth nor nose, since they ate and breathed like plants, through, their “skin.”

For locomotion, they depended on a sort of flowing pseudopodal motion of the under parts; though they had arms, there were no true legs. They moved but seldom, and always slowly.

Since the upkeep of these strange creatures was almost nothing, only CO2 and a few minerals being necessary, and as they were very enduring and could work for great lengths of time without fatigue, they were highly prized by wealthy Tellurian and Martian landowners as slaves. But laws had been passed, forbidding capture or sale of the chloro-men.

They were declared contraband, and violators of the anti-slavery laws were liable to severe punishment. However, once on Earth, the excessive sunlight so stepped up the metabolism of the greenies that their normal life span of two or three hundred years was radically shortened. So the demand exceeded the supply, and the price went up, and smugglers with daring and cunning made fortunes by slipping through the blockade with their illegal cargo.

“Poor devils,” said Frampton bitterly, as the two men looked over the shipment. Their soft eyes staring appealingly in bewilderment always stirred the young man’s pity. “This is a rotten business, Old-timer.”

SLINKING around the outskirts of the clearing were half a dozen of the scaly man-things native to the planet, awaiting their payment with candy and cheap, loud-ticking clocks and gewgaws. They represented the only source of supply for the slavers; an Earthman would hardly know where to look for the curious chloro-men, and the terrific climate wouldn’t allow him penetrate the unexplored wilderness very far... 

entry 352      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 15th:   

…We landed on [..........].  M’reen was the city.  Large as the Yawk City of my own day – and no one living there.

The planet was cold and dark – horribly cold.  The sun was a tiny, pale disk, heatless and almost lightness.  But the city was perfectly comfortable.  The air was fresh and cool, moist with the scent of growing blossoms, perfumed with them.  And the whole giant metal framework trembled just slightly with the humming, powerful beat of the mighty machines that had made and cared for it.

I learned from records I deciphered, because of my knowledge of the ancient tongue that their tongue was based on, and the tongue of that day when man was dying, that the city was built three million, seven hundred and thirty thousand, one hundred and fifty years after my birth.  Not a machine had been touched by the hand of man since that day.

Yet the air was perfect for man.  And the warm, rose-silver glow hung in the air here and supplied the only illumination.

I visited some of their other cities where there were men.  And there, on the retreating outskirts of man’s domain, I first heard the Song of Longings, as I called it.

And another, The Song of Forgotten Memories…

entry 351      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 13th:

...We walk through the thin, powdery snow, and we pass one of the metal domes.  It’s hollow, but there’s no answer to our pounding.  We pass on.  But we’ve been observed.  The next dome opens, startling us.  Peering at us, we see a queer metal being.  No, he’s not metal.  It’s a suit he’s wearing.  He remains motionless, regarding us with a cold stare.  We come closer.

We see a queer, tiny green-furred being.  He seems unafraid.  But we feel certain that he’ll pop down if we make an overt move, and slam his dome down over him again.  Reminds us of a ferret, somehow. 

Approaching, we signify by sign language that we intend no harm, and we descend into the interior of the [..........] queer home.  We are amazed.  We find a veritable little city, all self-contained in metal…

…the [..........] now takes off his suit and reveals himself as a squat, little fellow, with webbed legs, short and powerful, and tiny, many fingered hands, with webbing between them.

Obviously, he is partly amphibian.  We learn to our astonishment that he is able to descend below the ice crust of the planet, and swim like a seal in the water below, where grows his food supply…

…The eggs are deposited in the warm waters, in clumps of floating weeds, and there hatch, to develop into tadpole-like creatures which develop later into the full-grown quasi-amphibian [..........].

Evolution has driven this being to prepare himself for an ultimate life on a world which will be entirely frozen, and the watery underworld no longer exists as the planet loses its natural heat. 

Thus, the city we entered is the forerunner of [..........] surface cities built on everlasting ice.  At present they are temporary affairs, capable of floating at the season of melting...

entry 350      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 10th:

THE journey across the gloomy windswept plain seemed interminable. Rocks, scrub vegetation of a bizarre, alien variety, occasional patches of snow... the earthmen, pale automatons, the huge [..........] moving, quite unconsciously it seemed, in time to the roaring, ragged rhythm.

An hour's walking brought them to the city. In the center of a plain almost Mars-like with its red iron rust, a cluster of massive spires and towers thrust at the grey sky. Domes, bridges, ramps made an intricate filigree of stone, grim, solid, age-old. Sweeping like some huge mercury arc above the city was a curved tube of immense proportions, its ends disappearing into the ground on each side. The tube glowed whitely, giving off light and, apparently heat. Molten lava from the planet's core, Chance decided, run above the city to warm it, then forced below to be reheated. He eyed their tall furry captors with new respect. He had fancied them primitive, backward...

The interior of the city was another revelation. It seemed built entirely of a soft yielding material, very tough, not unlike a hard rubber. Walls, streets, buildings, all were of this plastic, deadening footfalls, echoes. Except for the eternal sourceless rhythm, the city was like a tomb. Not a sound from the crowds of [..........] who lined the streets, though the air was full of thoughts... blurred, incomprehensible thoughts that brought no clear pictures to the earthmen's minds...

entry 349      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 9th:

…And then he saw something faint and remote [……….], a broad horizon of pale luminosity that extended this way and that way as far as the range of his little window permitted him to see.  To this he was being towed, as a balloon might be towed by men out of the open country into a town.  He approached it very slowly, and very slowly the dim irradiation was gathered together into more definite shapes.

[……….] he came over this luminous area, and by that time he could make out an arrangement suggestive of streets and houses grouped about a vast roofless erection that was grotesquely suggestive of a ruined abbey.  It was spread out like a map before him.  The houses were all roofless enclosures of walls, and their substance being, as he afterwards saw, of phosphorescent bones, gave the place an appearance as if it were built of drowned moonshine…

entry 348      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 7th:

…I was taken to an open square or plaza in a poor part of the city and locked in a cage.  There were a number of these cages, but only one other had an occupant.  He was a human being like myself, and his cage was next to mine.  We were not exactly on exhibit; but the plaza was not enclosed, and many Brokols came and gawped at us.  Some of them poked us with sticks, and others threw stones at us.  For the most part, however, they just looked and commented – a word or a short phrase.  They were not given to loquacity.

One of them looked at me and said to his companion, “What is it?”

The other just shook his head.

“Yellow hair,” said the first.

“Gray eyes,” said the second.

They were running on terribly, for Brokols.

“You talk too much,” the man in the next cage yelled at them.

One of them threw a rock at him, and then they both walked away.

“They hate to have anyone say they talk too much,” confided my neighbor.

I nodded.  I was suddenly sick at heart, as though I felt a premonition of tragedy…

entry 347      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 5th:  

I had been to [..........] before, and it had merely seemed a dead rock.  Now it was no longer dead; it was a tortured living landscape, and the sense of tragedy was enormous, like looking on the burnt-out shell of a building where you know a thousand people had died.

We wasted no time in trying the experiment that had brought us here.  Without leaving the space ship (for we had no space suits, not having expected to land anywhere), we directed a beam of will-power at an immense mass of porous rock that looked like a great ant hill.  Twelve of us were linked in parallel, and the power we exerted could have blasted a crater ten miles wide.  The whole of the ‘ant-hill’ – a mass about a mile high – disintegrated like the Abhoth block, turning into a find dust that formed a kind of fog around the space ship.  There was also considerable heat that made us all uncomfortable for ten minutes.  And yet as the rock disintegrated, we all experienced for a moment a tingling of pure joy, like a very faint electric current.  It was impossible to doubt.  We had released the trapped life forces…

entry 346      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 4th:

The scene around them was one that was utterly alien. The primitive organisms that made up the flora and fauna of [..........] were as eerily strange in their composition as was the blue vapor that gave them life. The basic element of [..........] life-forms was a microscopic crystalline cell that was neither metal, stone, nor protoplasm, but a weird combination of all three.

THE slender spiky stems of the six-foot vegetation were of living metal that somewhat resembled iron. The odd, shapeless lumps of plastic black material that edged and rolled their way across the glittering grey soil—the lumps varying in diameter from a few inches to over a foot — were of living stone. Of insect, bird, or marine life there was none.

The scattered spikes of the metal trees offered no possible hiding place for Ruth and Kent, but near the mouth of the narrow little canon there was a mound of grey crystal blocks where a large piece had weathered and fallen from one of the walls. Panting, they flung themselves down behind the rocky mass.

From tiny fissures in the canon floor blue vapor surged upward in a cloud that obscured all except the bare outline of the building a hundred feet distant, but the glare of the fire was spectacularly visible, the blue mist acting as a giant reflector for the ruddy glow of the flames. The sight was visible for a distance of several hundred yards, and Kent believed that the Martian was lurking somewhere nearer than that. The atavistic changes in Morton’s body had indicated that a very few minutes had elapsed between the shattering of his mask battery and his return to the building.  

entry 345      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 December 2nd:  

Swelling and towering swiftly, like a genie loosed from one of Solomon's bottles, the cloud rose on the planet's rim.  A rusty and colossal column, it strode above the dead plain, through a sky that was dark as the brine of desert seas that have ebbed down to desert pools.

"Looks like a blithering sandstorm," commented Maspic.

"It can't very well be anything else," agreed Bellman rather curtly.  "Any other kind of storm is unheard of in these regions. It's the sort of hell-twister that the Aihais call the zoorth—and it's coming our way, too. I move that we start looking for shelter.  I've been caught in the zoorth before, and I don't recommend a lungful of that ferruginous dust."

"There's a cave in the old river bank, to the right," said Chivers, the third member of the party, who had been searching the desert with restless, falconlike eyes.

The trio of earthmen, hard-bitten adventurers who disdained the services of [..........] guides, had started five days before from the outpost of Ahoom, into the uninhabited region called the Chaur.  Here, in the beds of great rivers that had not flowed for cycles, it was rumored that the pale, platinum-like gold of [..........] could be found lying in heaps, like so much salt.  If fortune were propitious, their years of somewhat unwilling exile on [..........] would soon be at an end. They had been warned against the Chaur, and had heard some queer tales in Ahoom regarding the reasons why former prospectors had not returned.  But danger, no matter how dire or exotic, was merely a part of their daily routine.  With a fair chance of unlimited gold at the journey's end they would have gone down through Hinnom.

entry 344      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 30th:  

…The planet had been out of bounds ever since those geodetic expeditions had set out for [..........] over two centuries ago – and never come back.  Early space patrols and search parties had been sent into that part of the celestrial sphere – only to disappear forever.  The planet had become a symbol of the terrifying unknown.  Eventually it was forbidden by interplanetary law to stray beyond the orbit of [..........].

But why?  There must be reasons for those disappearances.  Who could resist an invitation like that?

“Some day,” they said.  “Some day.  All in good time.”

Now was as good a time as any.

…A good-sized city.  No more than a mile away.  Darrel glanced back at the ship from the hilltop, shrugged and turned toward the city.

When he reached it he found a nightmare world.

These [.............] were all crazy.  Disregarding every natural law, they dashed about the streets backward.  Every last one of them.  And they stared at him as though he were a freak!

entry 343      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 28th:   

…the tracery of traverser webs glistened, veining the whole sky.  Traversers moved over it like clouds, their great bodies slack.

All this was their empire, their creation.  On their first journeys here, many millennia ago, the traversers had literally laid the seeds of this world.  To begin with, they withered and died by the thousand on the inhospitable ash.  But even the dead had brought their little levy of oxygen and other gases, soil, spores, and seed, some of which latter sprouted on the fruitful corpses.  Under the weight of dozy centuries, these plants gained a sort of foothold.

They grew.  Stunted and ailing in the beginning, they grew.  With vegetal tenacity, they grew.  They exhaled.  They spread. They thrived.  Slowly the broken wastes of [..........] turned green...  Up the ravaged slopes the parsleys crawled.  As the atmosphere deepened, so the magic of life intensified, its rhythm strengthened, its tempo increased.  More thoroughly than another dominant species had once managed to do, the traversers colonized [..........]…

entry 342      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 26th:

Stark, abysmal menace hovered over the desolate landscape like a vast, intangible shroud. Reed felt it the moment he left the tender. It increased with every step he took across the nightmarish terrain.

The flocks of giant, green-winged bat-things wheeled silently lower, as though in anticipation. The plain itself was utterly devoid of the larger fauna that the first I. G. C. expedition had reported. The only living things visible were small purple spiders. They crawled sluggishly over the greasily glistening fungi that grew everywhere between the countless depressions that dotted the black soil.

Reed carefully avoided stepping upon any of the circular holes. The first expedition had called them shallow craters. To Reed, they looked more like lids of some closely woven silk material. Each of the sunken discs was approximately three feet across. Reed estimated that there must be literally millions of them on the entire surface of the vast mountain-ringed plain.

SKIRTING A CLUMP of dripping fungi that towered a yard above his head, he climbed a ten-foot whale-back of gray rock. He found himself facing Dorene across a fifty-foot space. The soil between the gray silk discs shone like semi-liquid swamp-land... 

entry 341      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 23rd:

“Funny place, [..........],” observed Mike Shea.  “I was down there two-three times.  What a dump!  It’s all covered with some stuff like snow, only it ain’t snow.  I forget what they call it.”

“Frozen carbon dioxide?” prompted Moore.

“Yeah, dry ice, that carbon stuff, that’s it.  They say that’s what makes [..........] so shiny.”

“Of course!  That would give it a high albedo.”

Mike cocked a suspicious eye at Moore and decided to let it pass.  “It’s hard to see anything down there on account of the snow, but if you look close” – he pointed – “you can see a sort of gray smudge.  I think that’s Bennett’s dome.  That’s where they keep the observatory.  And there is Calorn’s dome up there.  That’s a fuel station, that is.  There’re plenty more, too, only I don’t see them.”

entry 340       [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 21st:

…Smith realized that they were turning now toward the center of Baloise the Beautiful.  Great open squares here and there broke the ivory ranks of the buildings, and there were men and women moving infrequently through the streets, fragile as birds in their [..........] delicacy, silvery pale under the immense pale disk of high-swinging [..........] that dominated that scene until nothing seemed real but its vast marvel hanging overhead.  The buildings were larger here, and though they lost none of their enchanted beauty they were more clearly places of industry than had been those domed and grille-fretted dwellings on the outskirts of the city.

Once they skirted a great square in whose center bulked a vast sphere of silvery sheen that reflected the brightness of the sky-filled [..........].  It was a ship – a space-ship.  Smith’s eyes would have told him that even if the knowledge that floated through his mind from the mind of the [..........]-dweller had not made it clear.  It was a space-ship loaded with men and machinery and supplies for the colonies struggling against the ravening jungles upon steamy, prehistoric [..........].

They watched the last passengers filing up the ramps that led to orifices in its lower curve, [..........] people moving silently as people in a dream [..............].  It was queer how silent they were.  The whole great square and the immense sphere that filled it and the throngs moving up and down the ramps might have been figures in a dream.  It was hard to realize that they were not – that they had existed, flesh and blood, stone and steel...

entry 339      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 19th:

To the casual sight-seeing tourist, Mercis, capital of [..........], is a marble definition of the word “beauty”. Its stately white buildings, its green lawns dotted with clumps of flaming fayeh blossoms, its network of crystal-clear canals, make it a garden spot in the eternal, dusty-red plain. And when you add bottle-lined Terrestrial bars, gondolalike boats manned by soft-singing little native boatmen, and exclusive, highly priced shops, the result is a veritable mecca for the wealthy space-trotter. Even the bored dilettante, seeking the somewhat nebulous higher things in life, can find a haven in the Tolar Quarter, where appropriately hungry-looking artists, seated in the doorways of appropriately quaint houses, offer endless salmon-colored landscapes to the would-be patrons of art. Whatever your inclination, the canny little [..........] can cater to it, for they overlook no item, however small, in their eternal game of exchanging cheap articles and pleasant memories for Terrestrial cash.

Yet in addition to this brilliant, gay city, there is another Mercis, unsought by, unknown to tourists. Far from the marble splendor of the big passenger port where the sleek luxury liners glide to the ground, there are the cargo docks, with their battered tramps, their rusty freighters, and plain, blunt-nosed vessels surrounded by a maze of gaunt cranes, cargo lifts, and gray storage tanks. And about the cargo port, like scum on the sides of a bubbling caldron, lies the Olech, dark and shadowy. Rows of drab, huddled houses; worn, grimy glass streets [...........] Dull, crystaloid walls made all the more hideous by tattered remains of posters; lean slinking molats, the six-legged tailless [..........] hounds; ragged urchins and whining beggars, who, for a price, deliver questionable messages or obtain even more questionable information.

Here in the Olech, squat Jovian spacehands rub shoulders with languid Venusian traders; dark Mercurians drink with the dâk-men of Neptune; and tall Terrestrials swagger contemptuously through the crowds of [...................]. Above the babel of a hundred polyglot tongues one can hear the sibilant hissing of the [..........] dialects. Like flitting shadows the little reddies, clad in their long, loose dust-robes, glide along the crooked streets, mysterious, inscrutable.

Within the blank-faced houses of Ki Street, behind the busy stalls of the Space-Market, the old [..........] religion carries on its dark and bloody rites, defying alike the Imperial Decree and the Interplanetary Covenant. Among clouds of forbidden, hysteria-provoking incense, the priests, their faces ruddy in the light of the ancient ceremonial lamps, offer the mutilated bodies of their victims to the great hungry black thing which, at the sound of the third bell, appears above the altars. A hypnotic manifestation, Terrestrial skeptics call it; but to the true believers it is Yonan, God of Gods, Lord of Terrors, Master of Magic.

Here, too, from behind the lattices of the so-called “Amen Alley”, tiny, doll-like [..........] girls smile appraisingly at passers-by and hawk-faced dopesters offer sure tips on the monthly space-races. At night, when [ .........] the sallow light from the little shops makes orange oblongs on the narrow streets, you can hear the pulse of multiphone music, throbbing, moaning, as though teetering on the borderline between pleasure and pain. And above the music can be heard the excited muttering of the reddies as, crowded about the great glassex globes within which the green fungoid spores struggle for supremacy, they bet with fatalistic recklessness [..........].  

entry 338      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

2023 November 18th:

The recital started early.  The auditorium was packed.  Many of those there had been on [..........] and knew what the [..........] were like.  The recital was old stuff to them.  …They heard how the ships approached [..........] with no lively hope of finding anything worth while – of everyone’s surprise to discover an advanced civilization flourishing there.  They heard the transcribed voice describing what the [..........] looked like:

“…They have three legs and three arms each composed of three segments of massive bone surrounded by a heavy layer of fat and leatherlike skin.  Each limb terminates in a small prehensile finger.  …The top portion of the body has three eyes, three nostrils, and two mouths.  One mouth is used for water, the other for food.  In appearance, the [...........] seem outlandish to Earthly eyes.  They walk…”

…They looked like a three-armed watermelon sitting upright on a three-legged stool.  A man could drive himself nuts trying to keep track of how they walked.  Two feet were always on the ground, the third one moving forward…  And he could change direction with the startling suddenness of an ant.  His body wouldn’t turn at all; he’d just suddenly begin moving off at a tangent.

“…no language as we know it.  They communicate with one another in short bursts of sound which verge on the supersonic.  We understand their speech only by means of instruments which graph the duration and pitch of the sounds they make…”

entry 337      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 17th:   

He thought he saw mighty landscapes ringed by such mountains as none of today’s world know… he thought he saw a whiter sun than has shone for eons, lighting a land where rivers thundered between green banks…  thought he saw many moons parading across a purple night wherein shone constellations that haunted him with familiarity in the midst of their strangeness…  saw a green star where red Mars should be, and a far pin-prick of white where the green point that is Earth hangs.  Cities reeled past across the crystal darkness in shapes stranger than any that history records.  Peaks and spires and angled domes towered high and shining under the hot white sun – strange ships riding the airways…  He saw battles – weapons that have no names today blasting the tall towers into ruins…  saw triumphant marches where creatures that might have been the forerunners of men paraded in a blaze of color through shining streets…  strange, sinuous creatures, half seen, that were men, yet not men… 

He saw the man-things in their great shining cities bowing down before a – something – of darkness that spread monstrously across the white-lit heavens…  saw the beginnings of Great Pharol… saw the crystal throne in a room of crystal where the sinuous, man-formed beings lay face down in worshipping windrows about a great triple pedestal…

entry 336      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 16th:

…I breathed a prayer to the god of idiots and spacemen, and headed in.  The big ship was long gone, and I felt like a mighty small and naked microbe diving into the Pacific Ocean.

That famous [..........] was that big, too.  It kept expanding until the whole universe was a fierce, raw luminous red.  Out beyond it at first there had been fringes of snow-white frozen ammonia, but now it was all dyed redder than Mars.  Then I took the plunge right into it.  Surprise!  The stuff was plants!  Plants as big as meadows, bright red, floating around in those clouds of frozen ammonia like seaweed!  Then I noticed that the ammonia around them wasn’t frozen any more and peeked at the outside thermometer.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was above zero.  Then I forgot about the temperature because it dawned on me that I was lost.  I couldn’t see a thing but drifting ammonia fog and those tangles of red floating plants like little islands all around.  Cutting down the motor, I eased along.

But my green boat must have showed up like a lighthouse in all that red, because it wasn’t long until I spotted a purple and green hopper-scorp traveling straight toward me, sort of rowing along with a pair of stubby wings.  He didn’t seem to be making much effort, even though he was climbing vertically up from the planet…

entry 335      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 15th:

…And then the main ascent.  There were places where, like smooth frozen ice, the walls rose sheer.  We avoided them, toiling aside, plunging into gullies, crossing pits where sometimes we perforce went downwards, and then up again; or sometimes we stood, hot and breathless, upon ledges, recovering our strength, selecting the best route upward.

This tumbled mass of rock!  Honeycombed everywhere with caves and passages leading into darkness impenetrable.  There were pits into which we might so easily have fallen; ravines to span, sometimes with a leap, sometimes by a long and arduous detour.

Endless climb!  We came to a ledge…[....]  We might have been upon this main ascent for an hour; the plains were far down, the broken surface down there smoothed now by the perspective of our height... 

entry 334      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 14th:  

The military ran [..........] Station, manned it, supplied it, armed it, and used it as a base for keeping watch for mythical intruders who might come wandering into the system from the far-off seas of space.  There was not a scientist in the station who did not feel deep in his bones that the military could be dispensed with, that they wasted much money and time keeping watch for non-existent pirates from the depths of space.  But the military insisted that this watch was important.  Sure, there was peace now, but there might not always be peace.  Who knew what monsters might come in from the sea that had no other shore?  If space was infinite, the danger might be infinite also.  So argued the military.  Earth Government backed them up to the extent of manning its planet station with armed forces.  On Mars and Venus, they were needed.  But here on [..........] what was needed was a way to keep from freezing.

…[..........] Station itself was set in the middle of a vast valley, with low hills surrounding it.  On the left, were frozen runways extending the length of the valley.  They ended in the vast hump of the huge dome that served as a hangar for the space ships landing on [..........].  The hangar itself was part of the cluster of buildings that made up the station.

Up above the rocky surface of [..........], slanting down toward the runways, was a pale blue glow…

entry 333      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 12th:

In its jarring, lurching way the airwagon sped on through the sky.  Red sparks streamed by the windows like frantic scarlet insects.  The steady metallic screaming of the engines, disconcerting at first, came to seem familiar and almost welcome.  Below, all was a green wilderness, with great blankets of snow on the highest elevations.  From time to time Nortekku saw a great circular scar, a brown-walled cicatrice in the midst of the greenness: one of the innumerable pockmarks left on the face of [..........] by the falling death-stars.

As he looked down he was struck by an inrushing awareness of the vastness of the world, and of its antiquity, and of the succession of races that had come and gone upon this planet.  Down below there was nothing at all, now, but trees and stones.  But once all that wilderness had been inhabited, he knew, by the myriad denizens of the long-lost Great World civilization, the unthinkably rich and glorious era of the Six Peoples whom he had studied in school long ago…  the Hjjks, the Sea-Lords, the Vegetals, the reptilian race known as the Sapphire-Eyes people, the Mechanicals, and the most enigmatic ones of all, the Dream-Dreamers…

For some unknowable length of time – half a million years, a million? – the huge cities of the great World, full of quivering vitality, astounding in their opulence and size, their myriad windows sparkling in the sun, had covered the landscape below.  They had come, they had flourished, they had disappeared…

entry 332      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 November 11th:

…I know
What clammy blossoms, blanched and cavern-grown,
Are proferred to their gods in [..........]
By mole-eyed peoples…

entry 331      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 10th:  

Alexey shouted, “Everyone, bring the submersibles back to the borehole, NOW!”

Alexey turned to Fadek but before he could say anything, Anna yelled out, “Commander there are large objects coming at us fast!”

They had only enough time to see what looked like giant jaws and teeth as the submersibles both recorded impacts and all the communications went dead.

Graham jumped out of his seat and ran over to the borehole.  “Fadek, can we seal this?”

Fadek frowned and signalled to the symbiotes to close the opening but it was too late.  Something dark and large and wet came rushing out of the hole like the tentacle on a giant octopus.

Chaos broke out as the substance flowed out in giant pseudopods and flailed out around the wellhead.  Giant globs broke off and formed shapes which coalesced into terrifying creatures…

entry 330      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 8th:

Once around that valley there were great peaks crowned with snow and crags of black and crimson where the flying lizards nested, the hawk-lizards with the red eyes.  Below the crags there were forests, purple and green and gold, and a black tarn deep on the valley floor.  But when I saw it it was dead.  The peaks had fallen away and the forests were gone and the tarn was only a pit in the naked rock.

In the midst of that desolation stood a fortress city.

There were lights in it, soft lights of many colors.  The outer walls stood up, black and massive, a barrier against the creeping dust, and within them was an island of life.  The high towers were not ruined.  The lights burned among them and there was movement in the streets.

A living city – and Corin had said that Shandakor was dead.

A rich and living city.  I did not understand.  But I knew one thing.  Those who moved along the distant streets of Shandakor were not human.

I stood shivering in that windy pass.  The bright towers of the city beckoned and there was something unnatural about all light and life in the deathly valley.  And then I thought that human or not the people of Shandakor might sell me water and a beast to carry it and I could get away out of these mountains…

entry 329      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 7th:

Heath flung himself against the sweep and stopped it.

“Be quiet,” he said.  “Look.  Out there.”

They followed his gesture.  Far away over the port bow, flowing toward them, was a ripple in the weed.  A ripple as though the very bed of the Upper Seas was in motion.

“What is it?” whispered Alor, and saw Heath’s face, and was silent.

Sluggishly, yet with frightening speed, the ripple came toward them.  Heath got a harpoon out of the stern locker.  He watched the motion of the weed, saw it gradually slow and stop in a puzzled way.  Then he threw the harpoon as far away from the ship as he could with all his strength and more.

The ripple began again.  It swerved and sped toward where the harpoon had fallen.

“They’ll attack anything that moves,” said Heath.  “It lost us because we stopped.  Watch.”

The weed heaved and burst open, its meshes snapping across a scaled and titanic back.  There seemed to be no shape to the creature, no distinguishable head.  It was simply a vast and hungry blackness that spread upward and outward…

entry 328      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 5th:

Feeling unusually light he walked over to an enormous tear in the side of his space-cruiser. A bleak scene met his eyes. Short, grotesquely hewn hills and crags. Rocky pitted plains. And a bitter, wild wind blew constantly, streaming his long hair into disarray.

He cursed through tight lips. Fate! He had been on his way to Vesta, largest city of Jupiter, when his fuel had given out. He had forgotten to check it, and here he was.

Despondently he kicked a small rock in front of him. It rose unhindered by the feeble gravitation fully thirty feet in the air.

Suddenly there were a dozen scuffing sounds, and a dozen stones winged themselves painstakingly through the air and began to descend in slow motion.

Surprise struck, he gazed furtively about him. Momentarily his heart seemed caught in some terrible vise.

There was a sudden movement behind a close ridge. Momentarily John Hall was rendered paralyzed. Then he backed slowly toward the ship and safety behind a Johnson heat ray. The vague form abruptly materialized, etched in black against the twilight horizon of [..........]. The effect was startling. The creature stood upright, on two legs, with two gnarled, lengthy arms dangling from its bony shoulders. Human? The question registered itself on his brain, and the thing in front of him gave unwitting reply, as it moved to a clearer position. No, not human. Maybe not even animal. Two great eyes bulged curiously from a drawn, shrunken, monkey-like face. The body was as warped and distorted as the bole of an old oak tree. With pipe-stem arms and legs, bulging at the joints. Its most natural position seemed to be a crouch, with the arms dragging on the ground. Somehow this travesty of human form struck him as being humorous. He chuckled throatily, and then stopped with a start as the same chuckle crudely vibrated back, echo-like. But it was no echo! No, that wasn't possible. John raised his hand to scratch his head through force of habit; forgetful that this was impossible through the thick glassite helmet he wore. The tall, gangling creature in front of him watched closely for a moment, then stretched one preposterously long limb up and scratched briskly on his leathery skull in imitation of John Hal.

The answer struck him instantly. Why hadn't he thought of it. This animal, this thing, whatever it was, was a natural mimic. 

entry 327      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 4th:

Spaceships employ electromagnetic screens to ward off particle radiation.  They employ artificially generated positive and negative gravity fields not only for propulsion, not only for constant weight inside the hull at every acceleration, but also for tractor and pressor beams.  Let us scale up these systems until they maintain a giant bubble of air on an otherwise empty surface.

In practice, the task was monumental.  Consider problems like leakage, temperature regulation, and ozone layer control.  But they were solved; and their solution gave to the Solar System one if its most beloved resorts.

[...........] …trees soared through heights and arcs no less fantastic than the splashing fountains; and people walked with that same marvelous bounding lightness.  Behind the crowds, towers and colonnades lifted in fanciful filigree multitudinously hued.  Birds and elevated streets flew between them.  Perfumes, laughter, a drift of music, a pervasive murmur of engines wove through the warm air.

But beyond and above stood [..........].  Clocks ran on GMT; a thousand small suns hanging from bronze vines created morning.  Yet the true hour neared midnight.  Splendid and terrible, darkness struck through.  At zenith, the sky was black, stars icily visible.  [...........]  The Avenue of Sphinxes gave a clear westward view to the edge of air… [..........]near horizon.

entry 326      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 November 2nd:

…The things moving up and down those waxen slopes were still too far away for Falcon to make out many details, and they must have been very large to be visible at all at such a distance.  Almost black, and shaped like arrowheads, they maneuvered by slow undulations of their entire bodies, so that they looked rather like giant manta rays, swimming above some tropical reef.

Perhaps they were sky-borne cattle, browsing on the cloud pastures of [..........], for they seemed to be feeding along the dark, red-brown streaks that ran like dried-up river beds down the flanks of the floating cliffs.  Occasionally, one of them would dive headlong into the mountain of foam and disappear completely from sight.

Kon-Tiki was moving only slowly with respect to the cloud layer below; it would be at least three hours before she was above those ephemeral hills.  She was in a race with the Sun.  Falcon hoped that darkness would not fall before he could get a good view of the mantas, as he had christened them, as well as the fragile landscape over which they flapped their way…

entry 325      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 31st:

Hell broke loose.  Rick Mills and his companions felt a thunderous vibration, as of a million space ships blasting off, as all but two of those giant jet-tubes roared into life.  Rick had propped himself well.  Even when consciousness left him he maintained the electrical contact.  Other mole-torpedoes, exploding, shook the chamber and bulged its walls.  But the constructive fury that had started there, went on.  It wasn’t till half an hour later that those great tubes burned out.

No one ever saw the terrible blast of incandescence that they threw into space, like the jet of an old fashioned, Fourth-of-July pinwheel.  Not even Fane, out there somewhere in the cold wilderness.  Before he could glimpse what was happening, the glare charred his eyeballs.  Then it charred him inside his space suit.  Then a sea of slush engulfed him and his robots.  A slush of liquid air and snow.  Steam rose high and scattered to blank out the stars with an awful wind.

Five hours later the sun that had set here fifty million years ago, rose again.  But the melting went on under the veil of fog.  And across the furnace desert of [..........], darkened now at last, rivers roared, hissing.  Volcanoes blazed...[..........]

But at last the fury of rebirth quieted.  And down a murky river days later, a still dazed Rick Mills and his battered companions, paddled a crude metal boat to meet another party from the main camp.  The air was thin and steamy, but rich in oxygen, and good to breathe.  They had removed their space suit helmets…

entry 324      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 30th:

Madeleine felt strangely disoriented, as though dreaming with delirious fever. All time and space seemed for a moment to be enclosed within that rocky space, itself unmoored and unhelmed upon a dark and compassless ocean.

[.........., ..........] all around, but not a one to see. Like disembodied spirits, they had long ago evolved beyond confinement to fleshly bodies. But Earth people suspected there was something, so the younger ones, like Don, allowed suspicion to take any stereotyped, acceptable form. But the oldsters believed in being honest. Let those who can see—see.

"Madeleine!" Don was thinking, desperately, as desperate as only pure feeling can be. "Go back—back to the Haven. You can still go back!"

"But she cannot," the old man said. "For those who come this far, there's never anything to go back to."

"No—I cannot," Madeleine thought. "I don't want to go back."

"All right," Don thought after a while. "All right, Madeleine."

Then she was on her feet and moving over sand and stone that seemed alive toward the Ruins of Taovahr—but they were no longer ruins. She heard the murmur of sea-tides and warmer winds sighing over a younger land.

The sterile sand blossomed. Aridity drifted away. "Don! Is that you, Don?"

Don seemed to be somewhere, felt rather than heard, sensed, not seen. And instead of ruins, the high white walls and rising towers surrounded by gardens, fountains, and through the gardens a stream of clear water, soft with the pads of giant water lilies, trailing like glass under the moonlight and sympathetic shadows of leaves.

"Don! You knew what real living was in your youth. It was way, way back in time. Didn't you? And only if you're really living do you know where you're going, and you knew, didn't you? You gave up the machines, and went on to freedom. You escaped the confining flesh that can be caught up in war, and in hopeless peonage to the radios and teevee and radar and thundering jets that drown out the song of real life, and a horde of cunningly made, treacherous machines—"

"Madeleine. Join us—the way we are now. You can do it—"

"I—I can't see you, Don."

"You don't have to. You just think about it and join us, all of us—"

"Just—just a spirit of some kind, Don—is that it?"

"Yes, yes—something like that! You can't explain it! Just do it!"

It was too late, she knew that now. "We're old, too old, where I come from, Don. When I was very young, I might have done it." Only the wonder-filled child can go through the looking glass and—stay.

entry 323      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 29th:

…The hill fell away at his feet and the road went sweeping down the long slope as if impatient to greet the sea; and there at its end lay Shastar.

It caught the sunlight and tossed it back to him, tinted with all the colours of its makers’ dreams.  The spacious buildings lining the wide street seemed unravished by time; the great band of marble that held the sea at bay was still unbreached; the parks and gardens, though long overgrown with weeds, were not yet jungles.  The city followed the curve of the bay for perhaps two miles, and stretched half that distance inland; by the standards of the past, it was very small indeed.  But to Brant it seemed enormous, a maze of streets and squares intricate beyond unravelling.  Then he began to discern the underlying symmetry of its design, to pick out the main thoroughfares, and to see the skill with which its makers had avoided both monotony and discord.

For a long time Brant stood motionless on the hilltop, conscious only of the wonder spread beneath his eyes.  He was alone in all that landscape, a tiny figure lost and humble before the achievements of greater men.  The sense of history, the vision of the long slope up which Man had been toiling for a milliion years or more, was almost overwhelming.  In that moment it seemed to Brant that from his hilltop he was looking over Time rather than Space…

entry 322      [contributed by Zendexor]

2023 October 28th:  

Just a little pool, ten yards across perhaps?

“So,” breathed Hyoen, “not quite all the lake has gone.”

Nobody answered her because they all became paralyzed by the sight of what was happening on screen.  The stagnant water had begun to ripple.  After a minute or two the surface broke.  A black and glistening object reared out of it, and unfolded in the open air.  The four watchers immediately understood the purpose of the arrangement of relayed transmissions.  What they were seeing, if perceived directly, would have blown their minds.

The thing shook the drops from its scaly skin and from its black wings as it rose out of the liquid.  Undeniable evil bulged from the head.  Blurry eyes and sagging mouth offered a message dismaying beyond all reason.  No use to say it was “only” this or “only” that.  Certainty flooded the watchers: this was…

They knew, but did not want the thought of it to form.

A thing that should not be.  Should not count as real, anywhere in our universe.  But it was here, a nightmare tresspassing in daylight, as it clambered and waddled out of the pool and fully onto the shore, where it strutted, turning its eyes this way and that.

entry 321      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 26th:

…Infinitely far below, it seemed, some strange insects were slowly crawling back and forth in little pools of artificial light.  If one shone a torch upon a group of cockroaches, they would have looked like this.

But those tiny insects, Sadler knew, were the great mining machines at work on the floor of the canyon.  It was surprisingly flat down there, so many thousands of metres below, for it seemed that lava had flooded into the cleft soon after it was formed, and then congealed into a buried river of rock.

[..........], almost vertically overhead, illuminated the great wall immediately opposite.  The canyon marched away to right and left as far as the eye could follow, and sometimes the blue-green light falling upon the rock face produced a most unexpected illusion.  Sadler found it easy to imagine, if he moved his head suddenly, that he was looking into the heart of a gigantic waterfall, sweeping down forever into the depths of [..........].

Across the face of that fall, on the invisible threads of hoisting cables, the ore buckets were rising and dropping.  Sadler had seen those buckets moving on the overhead lines away from the cleft, and he knew that they were taller than he was.  But now they looked like beads moving slowly along a wire…

entry 320      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 24th:

…The station must be completely immersed in [..........].  The uniform radiation on all sides proved that.  Yet he was still in the [..........] vortex, as shown by the much cooler convection currents bathing the station.  There was only one possible explanation.  The spot vortex must be returning to [..........] surface through a gigantic U-shaped tube…

…If the central gyro won out over the torrential vortex the station might be swept up the other limb of the following spot twin and he might break the station away to safety over the penumbral edge…

…The brooding man sat at the central operator’s chair for a long time until the steepening floor threatened to drop him out of his seat.  He rose heavily to his feet and, hanging tightly to the guide rails, walked the length of the panel to a bank of huge enabling switches.

Here he unlocked the safety mechanism of the central gyro switch and pulled it out amid a protest of arcking, hissing flame.  The deck immediately began to vibrate beneath him, and the rapidly increasing tilt of the floor made it difficult to stand…

entry 319      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 23rd:

Petra finished her climb with the rest of the flock.  They had risen far into the sky during the long climb upward in the darkness.  Bright was rising in the east and its warming light was streaming down through a break in the cloud layers above.  That didn’t happen very often and the flock circled in the beam of light, enjoying the warmth, singing gossip back and forth to each other.  Petra could feel Petru’s air sacs expand in the warmth.  With the additional buoyancy of Petru’s body, she could gain even more altitude for Petro, so she had Petru swallow another mouthful of bitterly cold rarefied air, and tilting the wings upward, she jetted Petru higher into the sky, the rest of the flock following along behind, maws opening and closing to feed the pulsing jets that drove them ever higher.  As Petru climbed, Petra raised her head and gazed upward at Bright.  Petra’s large eye could see the flock of smaller lights that circled around the distant glowing sphere of warmth.  She could easily see the larger red globe, Rexu, and the smaller red globe, Talu, that circled Bright at great distances.  She knew there were three other globes close to Bright, but usually they were so close they could not be seen through the glare.  She raised a claw in front of her eye to block out the light from Bright and was rewarded for the effort by being able to observe two small bright spots close together – a larger blue-white light and a smaller gray light.  It was Parent-and-Child.  They must be at their farthest excursion from Bright, since the two globes were well separated from the glaring orb and were in their half-moon phase.

Petra knew that Rexu, Talu, Parent-and-Child, and the others must be globes, like the world Air that she lived on.  Ancient long-dead elders of the flock had determined many dimmings ago that Air was a globe [....................].  There was even a tale passed from flock to flock of one ancient and reckless young ruus that had left its flock flying east and had managed to fly all around Air, returning to the flock from the west, proving Air was round…

entry 318      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 22nd:

Pete leaned back in his chair and looked out through the yard-thick quartz of the dome which enclosed Satellite City, [..........]'s only place of habitation. That is, if one didn't consider [..........] prison, which, technically speaking, probably was a place of habitation. Other than for the dome which enclosed Satellite City and the one which enclosed the prison, however, there was no sign of life on the entire moon, a worthless, lifeless globe only slightly smaller than the planet Mars.
He could see the top of the prison dome, just rising above the western horizon. To that Alcatraz of Space were sent only the most desperate of the Solar System's criminals. The toughest prison in the entire system, its proud tradition was that not a single prisoner had escaped since its establishment twenty years before. Why risk escape, when only misery and death lurked outside the dome?
The Chamber of Commerce offices were located in the peak of the city's dome and from his outer office, against the quartz, Pete had a clear view of the preparations going forward for the reunion which was to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Battle of [..........].
Far below, at the foot of the magnetically anchored dome, work was progressing on the vast outdoor arena, which would be enclosed in a separate dome, with heat and atmosphere pumped from the larger dome.
On one of the higher snow-swept hills, a short distance from the arena, reared a massive block of marble, swarming with space-armored sculptors. That was the Battle Monument, to be dedicated in the opening ceremonies.
Drift snow, driven by the feeble winds which always stirred restlessly over the surface of this satellite from which the atmosphere was nearly gone, swept over the brown, rolling hills and eddied around the dome. It was cold out there. Pete shivered involuntarily. Down close to 180 degrees below, Fahrenheit. The snow was frozen carbon dioxide.

An inhospitable place to live, but Satellite City was one of the greatest resorts in the entire System. To it, each year, came thousands of celebrities, tens of thousands of common tourists. The guest lists of the better hotels read like the social register and every show house and cafe, every night club, every concession, every dive was making money.
And now the [..........] reunion!
That had been a clever idea. It had taken some string-pulling back in London to get the Solar Congress to pass the resolution calling the reunion and to appropriate the necessary money. But that had not been too hard to do. Just a little ballyhoo about cementing Earth-Mars friendship for all eternity. Just a little clever work out in the lobbies.
This year Satellite City would pack them in, would get System-wide publicity, would become a household word on every planet.

He tilted farther back in his chair and stared at the sky. The greatest sight in the entire Solar System! Tourists came millions of miles to gaze in wonder at that sky.  [........]

'We'll put [..........] on the map this year,' he exulted.

entry 317      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 21st:

“…Not until the ship started to topple did I realize what the thing was trying to do – and then it was too late.  We could have saved ourselves – if we’d only switched off those lights.

“Perhaps it’s a phototrope, its biological cycle triggered by the sunlight that filters through the ice.  Or it could have been attracted like a moth to a candle.  Our floodlights must have been more brilliant than anything that [..........] has ever known…

“Then the ship crashed.  I saw the hull split, a cloud of snowflakes form as moisture condensed.  All the lights went out, except for one, swinging back and forth on a cable…

“…The plant – I still thought of it as a plant – was motionless.  I wondered if it had been damaged by the impact; large sections – as thick as a man’s arm – had splintered off, like broken twigs.

“Then the main trunk started to move again.  It pulled away from the hull, and began to crawl toward me.  That was when I knew for certain that the thing was light-sensitive: I was standing immediately under the thousand-watt lamp, which had stopped swinging now.

“Imagine an oak tree – better still, a banyan with its multiple trunks and roots – flattened out by gravity and trying to creep along the ground…”

entry 316      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 20th:

…This land is so luminous that it resembles snowflakes on fire.  There is, however, one rather incredible thing, which I have never been able to make out and that is whether, once my box had fallen, I was mounting or descending towards [..........].  All I can remember is that when I had arrived there, I walked lightly upon it.  I only touched the ground at a single point and often rolled like a ball, finding it no more inconvenient to travel upon my head than on my feet.  Although I sometimes had my legs pointing towards the sky and my shoulders against the ground, it felt as natural to be placed in this position as if I had my feet on the ground and my shoulders towards the sky.  Whichever part of my body I rested on, whether on my belly, my back, an elbow, or an ear, I felt as if I were standing upright.  From this I learned that [..........] is a world which has no centre, and that, as I was very far from the sphere of influence of our own, and of all those I had encountered, it was consequently impossible for me to continue to have any weight, since weight is simply the attraction exercised by a centre within its sphere of influence. 

The awe I felt in printing my steps upon that luminous countryside gave pause for a while to my burning eagerness to continue my journey.  I felt quite ashamed to be walking upon the daylight.  My very body was bewildered and sought the support of my eyes.  But since this transparent land, through which their vision penetrated, could offer them nothing to rest upon, my instinct got the better of my mind and drove it on and on, in spite of myself, seeking out the depths of a light which was bottomless…

…After travelling, as I believe, for fifteen days, I came to a country of [..........] less dazzling than that which I had left…  I became tired and sleep took hold of me…  I lay down upon the sand in a deep stupor.

It was a bare country, so open that there was not a single bush as far as the eye could see, and yet, upon my awakening, I found myself beneath a tree by comparison with which the tallest cedars would seem like so many blades of grass.  Its trunk was of solid gold, its branches of silver, and its leaves were emeralds…

entry 315      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 19th:

“…this mound would have dwarfed twenty termite-nests in a valley of giants – all tumbled together and piled up in a skyward direction.

“As near as I could make out the footprints ran up to the base of the mound, and stopped there.

“Well… you can be sure I didn’t just stand in my own prints goggling up at the stars.  I followed that impossible trail – straight out into the valley as fast as I could clump.

“It took about ten minutes to reach the mound.  Once or twice I stumbled and almost went sprawling.  But whenever I felt the plain slipping out from under me I shot a quick glance at the mound and its sheer massiveness steadied me.

“Close up, it had a corrugated, hoary look, as if it had bubbled up out of the ground when [..........] had a molten crust and been fused into a mound by fire and earthquake. 

“But when I halted directly in front of it I saw that it wasn’t as solid as it looked.  It was riddled with little dark holes, as though a woodpecker had spent at least a month making a wreck of it.  And at its base there was a wide, dark, tunnel-like opening…”

entry 314      [contributed by Zendexor]

>>  here's where this is

2023 October 18th:

…The huge fern-like plants, flashing phosphorescence under the green corona light, seemed to close in after Cappy Upjohn and Terry Hall like prison bars in the windows of a dungeon…

…Between an opening in the ferns Terry caught a glimpse of a ghostly face, more simian than an ape’s…  At the same time he felt something that was like a breeze through his brain…

…Cappy took a step toward the creature.  The eyes seemed to flash.  Perhaps it was a reflection from the corona streamers stretching above the horizon to the west.  Cappy halted as the creature seemed to shrink away…

“You are suspicious men,” Chomby said.  “I read your mind and I know you do not trust me.  You fear a trap.  That is why you carry your guns.  But there is nothing to fear from Chomby’s people.  You will think them very primitive.”

…Chomby led the earthmen eastward.  The shadows deepened and the sky grew dark.  The stars appeared; among them the brilliant blue planet that was Earth…

The cold winds lashed at the earthmen and nipped through the heavy clothing they wore.  Terry and Cappy lowered a plastic windshield from their caps to protect their faces from frostbite. 

Vegetation grew more sparse and at last they walked across a rocky plain toward a row of towering basalt cliffs.  The feeble light that came from the outer fringe of the corona revealed a row of caves at the base of the cliffs and from these emerged a hundred or so ill-fashioned beings resembling Chomby.

The [..........] gave no cry, nor warning of his approach.  He apparently had notified his people by telepathy, for they rushed silently to meet him…

entry 313      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 17th:  

…the light was bright enough to show them that the rocket was resting on a flat surface, and that it lay on a carpet of bluey-green.

As Chris was their leader, the rest of the crew stood back for him to go through the hatch first.  With a hand raised in acknowledgement, he stepped forward and jumped the yard or so to the ground.  Because of the low gravity, he landed lightly on the soft, springy carpet, and at once bent down, eager to solve one of the mysteries that had been puzzling generations of astronomers.

There was no doubt about it.  The bluey-green colour came from a thick growth of some kind of vegetation.  It seemed like moss, but he could push his hand down into it for six inches before he felt the solid ground.  No wonder it was like treading on some luxurious carpet!  He remembered, many years before, walking across the stubble of a newly-cut cornfield.  It was springy to the tread.  This was the same, but the growth was longer, denser, and even more springy…

entry 312      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 16th:

...they must depend entirely on instruments to help them.  In more ways than one this would indeed be a blind landing.

Six miles to go.  If there were any mountain peaks like Everest the rocket might well smash itself against one.  Every second the crew awaited the sickening jar that would spell disaster.

Four miles.  Three.  The tension was unbearable, but still they stuck grimly to their posts.

“Watch out,” shouted Serge.  “It will be any second now.”

Without knowing it the crew were holding their breaths.  Suddenly they all let them out with a gasp.  Phoenix had touched something solid…

…”We’ve landed,” Morrey said weakly.

The rocket had been scarcely jarred as it came into contact with the planet.  No matter how carefully a ship is handled on making a terrestrial or a lunar landing, there is always a slight impact with the solid surface. None of the crew had felt anything.  It was as if they had touched down inside a bowl of cotton-wool…

entry 311      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 15th:

...Paul stared at the ghostly collection of huts slowly appearing through the mist, waiting, but Klooroo did not answer. When he looked up, the self-named nimbor was staring at him in horror.

"What? Have I said something wrong?"

"You . . . you have looked on the Summer Princess? And the taltors did not slay you?"

Paul shook his head. "If you mean the soldiers, we hid from them." Bemused by the creature's reaction, he told Klooroo how they had stolen a ride on the barge. ". . . And that is why we were floating in the water where you found us. What have we done that is so terrible?"

Klooroo made several hand gestures which seemed meant to ward off evil. "Only a Tellari, and a mad one at that, would ask such a question. Why do you think the canal is forbidden to anyone below the taltor class during Festival Season? So lowly ones do not look on the Summer Princess and bring bad luck on the Festival's rituals. If the rituals fail, the canals will not flood next season and all the land will remain a desert!"

A faint memory, really a reflex, suggested to Paul that once he would have found such a belief ridiculous, but recalling as little as he did of his own past and immersed in such a strange present, he found it difficult to say that anything was ridiculous. He shrugged. "I'm sorry. We didn't know anything. I was only trying to save the boy and myself."

Klooroo looked down at slumbering Gally and the grim set of his long muzzle softened a bit. "Yes, but. . . ." He blinked, then looked up at Paul. "I suppose you could not know. Perhaps since you are off-worlders, it will not disturb the ritual."

Paul decided not to mention their gleeful consumption of the temple offerings. "Who is she, this Summer Princess? And why do you know so much about . . . Tellari? Are people like us common here?"

"Not here—not in the nimbor towns. But there are more than a few in Tuktubim, although mostly they stay in the Soombar's palace, and a few mad ones roam in the outer deserts, looking for only the gods know what. There are occasionally visitors from Vonar as well—the second planet. But they almost never come outside the rainy season."

Klooroo was nosing his skiff through an array of small docks that formed a set of channels along the canal's bank. Many of the huts were built directly on the docks; others, grouped together between the canal and a rising cliff wall, rose in high, ramshackle agglomerations. Most of Klooroo's neighbors seemed to be awake and moving, some preparing their boats to go out onto the canal, but others just as clearly bringing theirs back in from a night of forbidden foraging.

"But how about the woman?" Paul asked, "You called her a princess?"

"The princess. The Summer Princess." He turned down one of the waterways, and Paul's wide view was suddenly blocked by looming walls. "She is one of the Vonari, the Blue People with Wings. Long ago, we conquered them, and every year they send one of their noblewomen as tribute."

"Tribute? What does that mean? She has to marry the . . . what did you call him? The Soombar?"

"After a fashion." Klooroo used the long paddle to turn them again, this time through a small watergate into a small enclosed pool surrounded by flimsy wooden walls. He brought the skiff alongside an open doorway, then reached out his long, clawed hand and pulled out a rope, which he tied to a loop in the skiff's bow. "After a fashion," he repeated, "since the Soombar is the descendant of gods. What she does is marry the gods themselves. At the end of the Festival she is killed and her body is given to the waters so that the rains will come back."

entry 310      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

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2023 October 14th:

…Although the king cared nothing for their ceremonies, he was uneasy.  Seldom it was that Dutch anticipated trouble, but the odds against him were so stupendous that he dared not but follow his subjects.  Since there was nothing left of his palace equipment, he turned toward the jungle and followed the victorious army.  He crossed the stream and then wound around the hills until he came to the great tangle of yellow-violet trees and vines.  So dense was the growth that the natives maintained tunnels through the dripping mass.  The king selected one of the tunnels into which the army had disappeared, and plunged after in pursuit.

Had this jungle been on the earth, the interior of the tunnel would have been dark as night, but here the light came up from the ground, thus maintaining a uniform intensity of illumination that was equal to that of the plain.

The path had been churned by countless feet into a thin, creamy mud in which the king waded ankle deep.  But it was this same disagreeable mud which guided him through the maze of tunnels and cross passages, for the sides of the recently used course were newly splashed with dripping mud.  Occasionally he heard the bellow of warriors deep in the jungle but so far in advance were they that it was only the louder sounds that reached him. 

For three “sleeps” the king penetrated deeper and deeper into the mysterious jungle…

entry 309      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 13th: 

…Curt Newton entered the truck with the others and they rattled through the bumpy streets of Jungletown.  They followed the other trucks northward along a rude [..........] roadway through the jungle.

The great fern-forest was a towering, solid wall on either side of them.  Sucker-flies swarmed out of the green vegetation upon them.  They glimpsed grotesque tree-octopi flitting through the ferns, and bulbous balloon-beasts floated by above them.

“What’s that place over there?” asked Ron King, pointing in awe at distant, cyclopean black towers that rose out of the jungle.

Captain Future knew what it was.  In that Place of the Dead, as the [..........] called it, he had once reached the climax of one of his most perilous adventures.  But he pretended ignorance, as Joan Randall answered the question.

“It’s an ancient, ruined [..........] city,” Joan said, her brown eyes fixed on those crumbling, enigmatic towers…

entry 308      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 12th:   

Where is this?  (Generous hint: it's in the Jovian system.)


entry 307      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 11th:

...The explorers’ accounts described much of the creeping jungles of rootless trees; of the Red River, whose waters are bright crimson because of their sediment of brilliant sands, and the Red Lake into which they empty; of the Poison Lake and the blasted region around it called the Poison Desert, in which live certain animals that have adapted themselves to the toxic environment; of the so-called Ghost Hills in the north, made terrible by the Man Spiders, which were arachnid creatures of great size and ferocity whose unusual intelligence and cunning earned them their name.

But, after the first interest in these accounts of exploration, [..........] was largely forgotten by the System peoples for some years.  The planetoid was hard to reach, lying as it did at the center of a dangerous region of meteor swarms and smaller asteroids.  No settlement on it was attempted, for it had no valuable mineral resources to tempt Earth prospectors and promoters.

But the very isolation and inaccessibility of [..........] attracted another class – the space-pirates.  Those were the wild early days of interplanetary travel.

The Planet Patrol had not yet been organized, and ships carried valuable cargoes from world to world without protection.  It was inevitable that piracy should spring up, and that the location of [........] would make it an ideal base for the corsairs…

entry 306      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 10th: 

…The wind which blew over the flute-mouthpiece of rock on this side of the mountain was as gentle and variable as a flautist’s breath, and did not stir the enormous tangled stolons and runners which filled the bottom of the great valley, or the wrap-around leaves which were plastered to them like so many thousands of blue-green Möbius strips.

It was not quiet down there, but it seemed quiet.  There were many more thrums and rummums of rolling rocks and distant avalanches than one heard during the cold weather. The granite-skinned roots were growing rapidly while their short time was come, burrowing insistently into the walls of the valley, starting new trees and new rocks.  In the cliffs, the warm weather changed water-of-crystallisation from Ice IV to Ice III, the bound water snapping suddenly from one volume to another, breaking the rock strata apart….

entry 305      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 9th:

…Strolling down one of the broad, tree-lined avenues of the Golden City of the Ku Thad, I heard cries of distress.

Gazing ahead, I perceived a chariot with a single passenger.  The team of matched thaptors drawing the chariot were out of control, hurtling and careening down the boulevard at breakneck speed.  At any instant, the chariot might overturn as its wheel caught an irregularity in the pave, thus hurling the chariot’s occupant to the pave and dealing him a serious injury.

The thaptors might have stampeded from any one of a number of causes – a chance noise, a sudden movement, a flick of the whip on some tender portion of their anatomy, or sheer cantankerousness alone.  For the weird bird-horses of [............] have never been fully domesticated and are restive and unruly, and quite likely to bolt or to turn upon their rider on chance whim or the slightest provocation…

entry 304      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 8th: 

Craig straightened up and looked around. Candles danced upon the ridges, swirling and jostling, silent watchers of his grim discovery. The one lone blue Candle, bigger than the rest, had followed the machine into the hollow, was only a few rods away, rolling restlessly to and fro. 

Knut had said something was funny — had shouted it, his voice raspy and battered by the screaming of powerful radiations. Or had that been Knut? Had Knut already died when that message came through? 

Craig glanced back at the sand, the blood pounding in his temples. Had the Candles been responsible for this? And if they were, why was he unmolested, with hundreds dancing on the ridge? 

And if this was Knut, with dead eyes staring at the black of space, who was the other one—the one who came back? 

Candles masquerading as human beings? Was that possible? Mimics the Candles were — but hardly as good as that. There was always something wrong with their mimicry — something ludicrously wrong. He remembered now the look in the eyes of the returned Knut — that chilly, deadly look — the kind of look one sometimes sees in the eyes of ruthless men. A look that had sent cold chills chasing up his spine. 

And Knut, who was no match for Creepy at checkers, but who thought he was because Creepy let him win at regular intervals, had taken six games straight.

Craig looked back at the jumper again, saw the frightened face of Rastus pressed against the filter shield. The Candles still danced upon the hills, but the big blue one was gone. 

Some subtle warning, a nasty little feeling between his shoulder blades, made Craig spin around to face the warp. Just in front of the warp stood a man, and for a moment Craig stared at him, frozen, speechless, unable to move. 

For the man who stood in front of him, not more than forty feet away, was Curt Craig!

entry 303      [contributed by Lone Wolf]

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2023 October 7th: 

…the titanic mountains of [..........] are its best-known natural feature. 

There are no mountains elsewhere in the Solar System like them…  Even the smaller ranges soar to heights of five and ten miles.  Many of the great peaks are very much higher.  And there is one colossal range in the northern hemisphere, called the Mystery Mountains, which have an altitude of at least twenty miles…

…radioactive matter is responsible for another of the wonders of the [..........] planet – the Shining Sea in the southern hemisphere. 

It is a sea whose waters are so impregnated with radioactive material from deposits in its bed that it glows at night like a great lake of light.  The [..........] city of Lulanee is built on the shores of the Shining Sea, and is considered by interplanetary travelers to possess one of the most beautiful settings of any city in the System. 

Another remarkable natural feature of [..........] is the Endless River.  This is a torrential stream which flows around the whole planet near the equator.  Its waters are kept flowing in an endless course, tugged by the tidal pull of the four moons of the planet…

entry 302      [contributed by Zendexor]

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2023 October 6th:

…The Magnet Mountains…  are hilly outcrops of pure iron which, in the strong magnetic field, exert an unbelievable pull upon any ferrous metal that comes near them.  The [..........], indeed, are able to walk up perpendicular cliffs of these mountains like so many houseflies, by wearing sandals with thin soles of iron.

The small body of water called Lake Orr by the [..........] has a peculiar feature.  It contains both the source and the mouth of the same river – the stream known as the Reversing River.  This is due to the fact that the motion of [..........] on its own axes as it glides through space is extremely irregular.  It has no regular period of rotation, due to its unspherical shape.  It turns over and over, much like a flying brick.

This fact makes its periods of day and night extremely irregular.  And also this causes such sudden variations in direction of the solar tidal pull on the lake, that its waters now flow in one direction in the river-bed around the worldlet, and now in another…

entry 301       [contributed by Zendexor]

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>>  Guess The World - Fifth Series