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

giant callistan caterpillars

...I wheeled in dismay and remained petrified at the sight before my eyes.

The surface of the lake was broken into boiling foam, and from it there reared the fore-parts of what appeared to be giant caterpillars.  They squirmed out upon land, dirty-gray bodies dripping slime and water.  They were some four feet long, about one foot in thickness, and their method of locomotion was the slowest of oxygen-conserving crawls.  Except for one stalky growth upon their forward end, the tip of which glowed a faint red, they were absolutely featureless.

Even as I watched, their numbers increased, until the shore became one heaving mass of sickly gray flesh..

Isaac Asimov, The Callistan Menace (Astonishing Stories, April 1940)

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callistan arthropod tribe

...My first reaction to the arthropods was, as I have said, one of revulsion at what I deemed their hideous and inhuman aspect.  Inhuman they certainly were, but "hideous" is a matter of open question.  The fact that they differed enormously from Homo sapiens was no reason to find their appearance automatically loathsome.  Very soon I found myself admiring them.  Slim, stalking figures, they were not without a certain grace - even a certain cold inhuman beauty.  With their attenuated limbs and extreme height they came, with familiarity, to assume something of the dignity and impressiveness of the lean gaunt statues of Giacometti or Henry Moore's weird stone figures.

Indeed, they had also something of the sleek, economical efficiency of a well-designed machine.  Almost I could picture those stalking, multijointed limbs as smoothly machined pistons.  Something of the passionless beauty of the machine was theirs, and something of the grandeur of sculpture.

In short, I no longer found them frightening, having no reason to fear my fate at their hands...

Lin Carter, Jandar of Callisto (1972)

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and see Thanator - For and Against

mush-and-crust callisto

It had almost no atmosphere, just a thin layer of the heavier gases.  It was a belted world, without clearly defined continents or surface markings.  Its equatorial zone was one vast, featureless belt of darkish-gray.  Its temperate zones were white, with patches of yellow here and there.  But its poles were gray again.

"The satellite's like a huge ball of thin mud that's never hardened," said Burl as they studied the strange terrain.

"The equator's the softest - it seems to be a river of muddy water, hundreds of miles wide - only it can't be water.  Probably semisolidified gases holding dust and grains of matter in suspension," said Russ.  "The temperate zones are the same stuff, only colder, and therefore more stable.  A thin crust of frozen gases over a planet-wide ocean of semiliquid substance."

"The Sun-tap station's on the southern pole," said Burl.  "That must be solid."

It was.  The poles... were actually two continent-sized islands of shell.  Dry, mudlike stuff, hard as rock, floating on the endless seas of the semiliquid planet...

Donald A Wollheim, The Secret of the Ninth Planet (1959)

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creeping crystals of callisto

"Lad, it's time we left," rasped Simon Wright's warning.  "The crystals are coming too near."

Curt whirled.  The cataract of brilliant crystals was now pouring steadily across the rocky plains toward them.  The gleaming, faceted crystalline things advanced inexorably, motivated by an electric force in their strange organic bodies that gave them the power of attraction and repulsion to each other.

With a clicking, murmuring, rustling sound, the brilliant flood moved at the rate of a few feet a moment, each separate gleaming crystal jerking a few inches forward by exerting repulsion upon those behind it.  They were but a hundred feet away.

"Grag, wreck the cyclotrons of this ship!" Captain Future ordered.  "Then we'll be off."

As the big robot sprang into the black craft to obey, Orris and Skeel voiced wild protest.

"You're not going to leave us here to be killed by those things!" they cried.

Curt bent over the two helpless men and touched their nerve-centres, lifting the paralysis that held them.  As they staggered up, Grag came out of the ship.

"It is wrecked, master," boomed the robot.  "That ship will not fly space again."

"You two men can run now, and you can easily keep away from the crystals here," Curt told Orris and Skeel.  "I'll notify the Planet Police at Jovopolis and they'll send a ship out to pick you up."

His eyes flamed.

"If I did what I'd like to, I'd let the crystals have you!  You've helped to spread a horror that's blacker than murder!"

The two criminals stared wildly at the clicking, advancing flood of crystals now only fifty feet away, and then broke into a crazy run in the opposite direction, stumbling frantically away across the drab gray desert.

Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future and the Space Emperor (1939)

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