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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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