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prison compound amidst the jungles of europa

..."What can we do?" I said hopelessly.  "They watch our every move by day, and at night cage us in that prison-pen that nothing could escape from."

"Just the same, I'm not going to die here toiling like a beast," said Kurdley, taut, and was silent thenceforward.

When the feeble little sun sank from sight, and the green sky began to darken, work was halted.  Our tools were checked in and then we exhausted prisoners were marched by the armed guards toward the metal buildings of the colony's heart.  We trudged wearily on the load-soled shoes that held us down against Europa's lesser gravity.

A few officers off duty watched idly as we were marched through the colony.  And as usual there were a few Europans, come as friendly visitors from the surrounding jungles.  Big, green, rotund creatures with bulbous heads, watching us with their huge, faintly glowing eyes, their flipper-hands holding the short spears they used for hunting...

Edmond Hamilton, Mutiny on Europa (Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1936)

>>  Guess The World - Open

life expectancy on a trek across europa

"...You don't seem to realize our predicament.  We're at least twelve days from civilization - that's figuring sixty miles a day, which is hardly possible.  Tonight, the temperature will fall to a hundred below freezing, at least...

"...Well, if the cold doesn't kill us, we're bound to run into at least one bloodsucker gryb every few days.  They can smell human blood at an astounding distance; and blood for some chemical reason drives them mad with desire.  Once they corner a human being it's all up.  They tear down the largest trees, or dig into caves through solid rock.  The only protection is an atomic gun, and ours went up with our suits.  We've only got my hunting knife.  Besides all that, our only possible food is the giant grass-eater, which runs like a deer at the first sight of anything living, and which, besides, could kill a dozen unarmed men if it were cornered.  You'd be surprised how hungry it is possible to get within a short time.  Something in the air... speeds up normal digestion.  We'll be starving to death in a couple of hours..."

A E van Vogt, Repetition (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1940)

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europan menu

...We didn't want liver-leaves again.  The little nutsies from the salt pool were all right, but it was a half-day's job to gather enough, and besides, they were almost too salty to be pleasant fare for a whole meal.  Bladder birds were hopeless; they consisted of practically nothing except thin skin stretched over a framework of bones.  I remembered that once we had tried a brown, fungoid lump that grew in the shade under the song-bushes; some of Gunderson's men had liked it.

Claire finally broke the silence.  "If I'm going to help you look," she suggested, "I ought to know what we're looking for."

I described the lumpy growths.  "I'm not sure all of us will like them.  Near as I can remember, they tasted something like truffles, with a faint flavor of meat added.  We tried them both raw and cooked, and cooked was best..."

Stanley G Weinbaum, Redemption Cairn (Astounding Stories, March 1936)

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a bonanza on europa

…in a grotto of titanic proportions. The substance of its walls and distant ceiling gave it the gentle radiance of a sunless day. But it was a glaucous radiance, ineffably green as the light beneath the waters of a shallow sea…

…Jim Brannigan stood there tensely for a moment, looking at the man he had struck down. But only for a moment. His lips quirked into a tight smile, and his exulting keen eyes took in the cave's glittering expanse.

"A fortune in oxide crystals," he murmured, "an inexhaustible mine! And he thought he could cheat me out of it, keep it from me! Good thing I followed him. Serves him right if I've killed him."

He didn't seem too worried about it, and he didn't look at Hugh's body again as he started gathering in the rare crystals.

"Europa's uncharted, I can claim-deed this whole region! And probably there's another fortune in furs," he added as he suddenly remembered the creature he had captured. Already, in his greedy mind's eye, he saw himself a tycoon, the oxide king, with a corner on furs finer than anything ever seen on Earth, Venus or Mars.

This he saw. But what he didn't see were the myriad pairs of burning beryl eyes peering at him from concealed openings in the opaline walls. He was not aware of the increasing energy potential being generated by a growing legion of furred bodies in surrounding caverns, as more and more Panadurs pressed forward to peer out at him. Around Jim Brannigan now the frigid atmosphere began to rise. At first it was pleasantly cool, then warm, and warmer, until it became suffocating.

Still the silvery-furred Panadurs, in utter silence, generated heat as their mental forces grew and deliberately united into a single, increasing potential. Their fur stood erect, an angry violet-silver now, crackling a little with the intensity of the effort. As a single unit, they waited, each furry Panadur now touching the other in a living, livid chain of cumulative power.

Jim Brannigan ceased his gloating and awoke at last to an indefinable danger. Swiftly he arose and whirled toward the entrance, peering back over his shoulder at the danger he could feel, that he knew was there, but could not see.

But already it was too late. Now that increasing energy potential, grown and united into a single purposeful weapon, was being aimed. Jim Brannigan hadn't taken three steps toward the entrance when suddenly, silently, intangible as thought, but infinitely more devastating, it was released! As the devastating bolt struck him, Brannigan collapsed into a crumpled heap, shattered, silent ... inert.

Albert dePina and Henry Hasse, Star of Panadur (Planet Stories, March 1943)

>>  Guess The World - Third Series

a panorama of europa

They had entered the atmosphere as they talked and the Nomad was approaching the surface in a long glide with repulsion full on. It was daytime on the side they neared. Pale daylight, but revealing. The great ball that was Jupiter hung low on the horizon, its misty outline faintly visible against the deep green of the sky.

The surface over which they skimmed was patchworked with farm-lands and crisscrossed by gleaming ribbons. Roadways! It was like the voice-vision records of the ancient days on Mars and Terra before their peoples had taken to the air. Here was a body where a person could get out in the open; next to nature. They crossed a lake of calm green water fringed by golden sands. At its far side a village spread out beneath them and was gone; a village of broad pavements and circular dwellings with flat rooms, each with its square of ground. A golden, mountain range loomed in the background; vanished beneath them. More fields and roads. Everywhere there were yellows and reds and the silver sheen of the roads. No green save that of the darkening sky and the waters of the streams and ponds. It was a most inviting panorama.

Occasionally they passed a vessel of the air—strange flapping-winged craft that soared and darted like huge birds. Once one of them approached so closely they could see its occupants, seemingly a people similar to the Venusians, small of stature and slender.

Harl Vincent, Vagabonds of Space (Astounding Stories of Super-Science, November 1930)

>>  Guess The World - Third Series

light-seeking creature on europa

“…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 Europa 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…”

Arthur C Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two (1982)

>>  Guess The World - Fourth Series

a monster from under the ice of europa

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…

Jamie Ross, Europa Dive (Vintage Worlds 3, ed. John M Greer and Zendexor, 2020)

>>  Guess The World - Fourth Series