For a scenic browse, and an answer-page for Guess The World...
"...Maybe the brains of Earth things naturally are slow and foggy. Maybe we are the morons of the universe. Maybe we are fixed so we have to do things the hard way."
And, in the new sharp clarity of thought that seemed to grip him, he knew that it would not only be the matter of colours in a waterfall... He sensed other things, things not yet quite clear. A vague whispering that hinted of greater things, of mysteries beyond the pale of human thought, beyond even the pale of human imagination. Mysteries, fact, logic built on reasoning. Things that any brain should know if it used all its reasoning power.
"We're still mostly Earth," he said. "We're just beginning to learn a few of the things we are to know - a few of the things that were kept from us as human beings, perhaps because we were human beings. Because our human bodies were poor bodies. Poorly equipped for thinking, poorly equipped in certain senses that one has to have to know. Perhaps even lacking in certain senses that are necessary to true knowledge."
He stared back at the dome, a tiny black thing dwarfed by the distance.
there were men who couldn't see the beauty... Men who thought that
swirling clouds and lashing rain obscured the planet's face. Unseeing
human eyes. Poor eyes. Eyes that could not see the beauty in the
clouds, that could not see through the storm. Bodies that could not
feel the thrill of trilling music stemming from the rush of broken
Clifford D Simak, Desertion (Astounding, November 1944)
...No possible artificial structure, and but few natural ones - in practice manoeuvres entire mountains had been lifted and hurled for miles through the air - could have withstood the incredible violence of that lunging, twisting, upheaving impact. Lifted bodily by that impalpable hawser of force and cruelly wrenched and twisted by its enormous couple of angular momentum... boulders, fragments of concrete masonry, and masses of metal flew in all directions as that city-encircling conduit of diabolical machinery was torn from its bed.
A portion of that conduit fully thirty miles in length was in the air, a twisted, flaming inferno of wrecked generators, exploding ammunition, and broken and short-circuited high-tension leads... With resounding crashes the structure parted at the weakened points, the furious upheaval stopped, and, the tractor beams shut off, the shattered, smoking, erupting mass of wreckage fell in clashing, grinding ruin upon the city...
material lining of the ghastly moat was the only substance capable of
resisting the action of its contents, and now, that lining destroyed by
the uprooting of the fortress, that corrosive, brilliantly mobile liquid
cascaded down into the trough and added its hellish contribution to the
furious scene. For whatever that devouring fluid touched flared into
yellow flame, gave off clouds of lurid, strangling vapour, and
E E "Doc" Smith, Spacehounds of IPC (1931, 1947)
...The wind came whooping out of eastern darkness, driving a lash of ammonia dust before it...
He clawed all four feet into the broken shards which were soil, hunched down and groped for his little smelter. The wind was an idiot bassoon in his skull. Something whipped across his back, drawing blood, a tree yanked up by the roots and spat a hundred miles. Lightning cracked, immensely far overhead where clouds boiled with night.
As if to reply, thunder toned in the ice mountains and a red gout of flame jumped and a hillside came booming down, spilling itself across the valley...
The fire and the lightning gave him enough illumination to find his apparatus. He picked up tools in muscular hands, his tail gripped the trough and he battered his way to the tunnel and thus to his dugout.
had walls and roof of water, frozen by sun-remoteness and compressed by
tons of atmosphere jammed on to every square inch. Ventilated by a
tiny smoke hole, a lamp of tree oil burning in hydrogen made a dull
light for the single room...
Poul Anderson, Call Me Joe (Astounding Science Fiction, April 1957)
...The sphere was borne up a canal through the center of the village. Connor looked with dumbfounded eyes upon the thousands of huts which lay on either side. Waterways intersected at regular well-placed intervals, aqueous streets crowded with dwelling-places of the tetrahedron creatures. It was a gigantic metropolis of unaccountable intelligent beings. In the near distance, the crimson beam shot up into the sky, a pillar of light and an object of insatiable curiosity for the terrestrials.
At last, a great structure, centering the tetrahedron metropolis, loomed huge and rough, a black craggy mass approached by a waterway leading into an arching tunnel. The sphere was pushed and jostled beneath this arch and through various branches of the waterway beneath the great building. A vague diffused light danced on the walls of the cavernous dwelling...
they found themselves being propelled down a long canal leading across a
great chamber which resembled an amphitheatre, already rapidly filling
with the tetrahedrons. On a central dais, surrounded by waterlanes, was
a group of imposing creatures with gigantic swollen heads twice the
size of those propelling the sphere...
J Harvey Haggard, Children of the Ray (Fantastic Story Quarterly, Spring 1950)
...Four days later, after crossing a ridge of mountains that the pressure on the aneroid barometer showed to be about thirty-two thousand feet high, and a stretch of flat country a few miles in width, they came to a great arm of the sea. It was about thirty miles wide at its mouth, which was narrowed like the neck of a bottle, and farther inland was over one hundred miles across, and though their glasses, the clear air, and the planet's size enabled them to see nearly five hundred miles, they could not find its end. In the shallow water along its shores, and on the islands rising but a few feet above the waves, they saw all kinds of amphibians and sea-monsters. Many of these were almost the exact reproduction in life of the giant plesiosaurs, dinosaurs, and elasmosaurs, whose remains are preserved in the museums on earth. The reptilian bodies of the elasmosaurs, seventy-five feet in length, with the forked tongues, distended jaws and fangs of a snake, were easily taken for the often described but probably mythical sea-serpent, as partially coiled they occasionally raised their heads twelve or fifteen feet...
the striking similarity of these creatures to their terrestrial
counterparts that existed on earth during its corresponding period,
there were some interesting modifications. The organs of locomotion in
the amphibians were more developed, while the eyes of all were larger,
the former being of course necessitated by the power of gravity, and the
latter by the greater distance from the sun...
John Jacob Astor, A Journey in Other Worlds (1894)
...he was on his way down. To and fro he swung, hearing the wind whistle past him. A hunter tossed him a rope. He caught hold. The Hidden Folk lined themselves along the far end and started off.
The great nest was soon lost to view. It was not surprising that no ground dweller had ever seen one like that, or an aerial pasture, or the monsters which browsed there. A mile up, with half the atmosphere and a goodly percentage of the clouds between, they would be invisible. He wondered what other strangenesses dwelt in his heaven.
a while he felt the strain increase on his tow rope, until at last he
could hold it no more and must knot it about his waist. The hunters
were plainly laboring hard. He needed a few minutes to deduce the
reason. Nature had meant the leaf which supported him to float at a
certain altitude. He was now down to where the air was getting
appreciably denser. His gills recognized that...
Poul Anderson, Three Worlds to Conquer (1964)
...How long I was in crossing that dismal ocean, I do not know... with no sun, moon, nor stars, I could not measure time.
saw no ship upon that entire vast expanse of water, but I did see life -
plenty of it. And I saw terrific storms that buffeted my craft,
tossing it about like a feather. But that was nothing compared with
that I saw below me as the storms at the height of their fury lashed the
surface of the waters. I realized then how suicidal would have been my
attempt to cross that terrible ocean in the frail craft I had planned
to build. I saw waves that must have measured two hundred feet from
trough to crest - waves that hurled the mighty monsters of the deep as
though they had been tiny minnows. No ship could have lived in such
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Skeleton Men of Jupiter (Amazing Stories, February 1943)
...While in quest of fire-wood, they came upon great heaps of bones, mostly those of birds, and were attracted by the tall, bell-shaped flowers growing luxuriantly in their midst. These exhaled a most delicious perfume, and at the centre of each flower was a viscous liquid, the colour of honey.
"If this tastes as well as it looks," said Bearwarden, "it will come in well for dessert"; saying which he thrust his finger into the recesses of the flower, intending to taste the essence. Quietly, but like a flash, the flower closed, his hand being nearly caught and badly scratched by the long, sharp thorns that now appeared at the edges...
evening these flowers sent up their most beautiful song, to hear which
flocks of birds came from far and near, alighting on the trees, and many
were lured to death by the siren strains and the honey...
John Jacob Astor, A Journey in Other Worlds (1894)
My route now carried me smoothly towards the incandescent area... I approached the iridescent region and then was suddenly inside it. The sensation was of being inside a glorious world of light and colour, and with this sensation came the certainty that someone was talking to me. Although I was not conscious of hearing any known words, I knew that I could remove my headpiece. I moved on closer, gliding through the sea of shimmering light. Voices spoke at me now from every side. It wasn't like ordinary speech. It was more like the voices of music. I felt I knew something both beautiful and profound was being said, but that I lacked a knowledge of the language. The sounds became louder as I proceded.
There were shapes too, showing more clearly the forming and reforming process I'd seen from the outside.
voices drew me on even further, and the further I travelled the clearer
the shapes became and the more distinctive the sounds. The language
seemed not only accessible but immediately within my grasp. Suddenly I
knew the language would indeed become clear - but only if I were to
proceed beyond the threshold of my own being...
Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle, The Incandescent Ones (1977)
Beneath them lay a vast, heaving sea, bathed in silvery light by the three moons now in the sky. It was one of the thirty tremendous oceans of the monarch planet, an endless watery plain whose moonlit surface heaved in great billows toward the sky.
Curt had leveled off, and now the Comet
screamed eastward low above the tossing silver ocean. Under the
brilliant rays of Ganymede and Europa and Io, the waste of waters
stretched to the far horizons in magnificent splendor.
those weird Jovian birds that for some mysterious reason never fly
except when the moons shine, were circling high above the waters. Their
broad wings shone in the silver light with uncanny iridescence, due to
some strange photochemical effect.
Schools of flame-fish, small fish that glowed with light because of their habit of feeding on radioactive sea-salts, swam just under the surface. The triple head of hydra, a species of big sea-snake always found twined in curious partnerships of three, reared above the waves. Far northward a "stunner", like an enormous flat white disc of flesh, shot up out of the moonlit sea and came down with a thunderous shock that would stun all fish immediately and make them easy prey.
The Comet drove on low above the silver-lit ocean teeming with strange life. Under the three big, bright moons, the tear-drop ship cleaved the atmosphere like a meteor, hurrying toward the perilous rendezvous with mystery that Curt Newton was determined to keep.
"Lights ahead, master," boomed Grag, the robot's photoelectric eyes peered keenly...
Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future and the Space Emperor (1939)
…The heavy wet air worked havoc with the Earthmen's lungs and the so-called Jovian croup became soon as well-known and much more feared than Martian fever. Men toiling in the thin sunlight were stricken by it. Crane's forces were decimated by it. The fern forests, too, held weird forms of life that proved a problem, some of them disk-shaped things of flesh that enveloped anything living in their bodies and ingested it directly. There were also strange huge worm-like things existing in the oozy soil, and others stranger still. Crane's men had to work with atom-blasts constantly ready to repel these strange predatory forms of life.
Out of the fern forests, too, came to watch the Earthmen hosts of the big, soft-bodied creatures Gillen had called the Jovians. These had bodies eight feet high and six feet around, like big cylinders of hairless brown flesh supported on thick flipper-like limbs, with similar flipper-like arms. Their small round heads had dark mild eyes and mouths from which came their deep bass speech. Crane found they were perhaps as intelligent as the Martians but were rather more peaceful, their only weapons spears with which they fought off the things in the fern forests that attacked them.
They were quite friendly toward the Earthmen and watched their operations with child-like interest...
...Then came the trouble. It began as on Mars – a bad-tempered Earthman at one of the forts beat a flipper-man for some reason and in a brawl that ensued one Earthman and five Jovians were killed. Word must have spread somehow in the fern forests for the Jovians retired from the forts of the earthmen. Jimmy Crane cursed in private but acted, punishing the Earthmen concerned and sending Halkett to the Jovian communities to patch up matters.
Halkett had learned the Jovian language and proved a good ambassador for he was sympathetic with the flipper-men. He did his best to fulfil his mission but could not succeed. The flipper-men told Halkett that they had no hard feelings but would prefer to avoid the Earthmen lest further trouble develop…
Edmond Hamilton, A Conquest of Two Worlds (Wonder Stories, February 1932)
…He seemed to stride out into a hellish chaos of sound and light and mist. The mind-shattering explosions of thunder from far up in the cloud-envelope were accompanied by ghastly flares and rivers of lightning that each time illuminated the misty scene about him…
…Drop One was all here, and now began the toiling, urgent work of unloading equipment and setting up the prefab metal Command Hut, hospital, and supply-dumps for the bigger expedition to come. Already metal crates were being swung out of the hatches of their own rocket, and the men in their Walkers were striding clumsily to the task.
Nightmare scene, to Baird’s eyes! The swirling mists, heavy with fumes from the vulcanism eastward. The rockets looming spectral in it, the unhuman shapes of the Walkers stiffly moving about, the men in them showing pale, drawn faces through their faceplates. And above all the thunder, the volleying of titan explosions in the sea of atmosphere above them, the flash of dancing lightning up there that never ceased….
Edmond Hamilton, Thunder World (Imaginative Tales, July 1956)
…It lay, as nearly as they could judge, some two thousand miles beneath them, a distance which the telescopes reduced to less than twenty; and they saw for a few moments the world that was in the making. Through floating seas of misty steam they beheld what seemed to them to be vast continents shape themselves and melt away into oceans of flames. Whole mountain ranges of glowing lava were hurled up miles high to take shape for an instant and then fall away again, leaving fathomless gulfs of fiery mist in their place.
Then waves of molten matter rose up again out of the gulfs, tens of miles high and hundreds of miles long, surged forward, and met with a concussion like that of millions of earthly thunder-clouds. Minute after minute they remained writhing and struggling with each other, flinging up spurts of flaming matter far above their crests. Other waves followed them, climbing up their bases as a sea-surge runs up the side of a smooth, slanting rock. Then from the midst of them a jet of living fire leapt up hundreds of miles into the lurid atmosphere above, and then, with a crash and a roar which shook the vast Jovian firmament, the battling lava-waves would split apart and sink down into the all-surrounding fire-ocean, like two grappling giants who had strangled each other in their final struggle.
George Griffith, A Honeymoon in Space (1901)
For over an hour the ship had been propelled swiftly, irresistibly toward the center of the red spot. It had been up about forty thousand feet. Now, with a jerk that sent both men reeling, it had been drawn down to within fifteen thousand feet of the surface; and the sight that was now becoming more and more visible was incredible.
Beneath was a vast, orderly checkerboard. Every alternate square was covered by what seemed a jointless metal plate. The open squares, plainly land under cultivation, were surrounded by gleaming fences that hooked each metal square with every other one of its kind as batteries are wired in series. Over these open squares progressed tiny, two legged figures, for the most part following gigantic shapeless animals like figures out of a dream. Ahead suddenly appeared the spires and towers of an enormous city!
Metropolis and cultivated land! It was as unbelievable, on that raw new planet, as such a sight would have been could a traveler in time have observed it in the midst of a dim Pleistocene panorama of young Earth.
It was instantly apparent that the city was their destination. Rapidly the little ship was rushed toward it; and, realizing at last the futility of its laboring, Brand cut off the atomic motor and let the shell drift.
Over a group of squat square buildings their ship passed, decreasing speed and drifting lower with every moment. The lofty structures that were the nucleus of the strange city loomed closer. Now they were soaring slowly down a wide thoroughfare; and now, at last, they hovered above a great open square that was thronged with figures.
Lower they dropped. Lower. And then they settled with a slight jar on a surface made of reddish metal; and the figures rushed to surround them.
Looking out the glass panel at these figures, both Brand and Dex exclaimed aloud and covered their eyes for a moment to shut out the hideous sight of them. Now they examined them closely.
Manlike they were: and yet like no human being conceivable to an Earth mind. They were tremendously tall—twelve feet at least—but as thin as so many animated poles. Their two legs were scarce four inches through, taper-less, boneless, like lengths of pipe; and like two flexible pipes they were joined to a slightly larger pipe of a torso that could not have been more than a foot in diameter. There were four arms, a pair on each side of the cylindrical body, that weaved feebly about like lengths of rubber hose.
Set directly on the pipe-like body, as a pumpkin might be balanced on a pole, was a perfectly round cranium in which were glassy, staring eyes, with dull pupils like those of a sick dog. The nose was but a tab of flesh. The mouth was a minute, circular thing, soft and flabby looking, which opened and shut regularly with the creature's breathing. It resembled the snout-like mouth of a fish, of the sucker variety; and fish-like, too, was the smooth and slimy skin that covered the beanpole body.
Paul Ernst, The Red Hell of Jupiter (Astounding Stories, October 1931)
Furtively Alan Sarett peered through the heavy murk of the Jovian prison pit. A cloud of yellow stream writhed upward from the boiling spring at his feet, obscuring everything with choking sulphurous veil. He caught a hazy glimpse of Jon Cory, lank, and raw-bones, stripped to the waist, toiling steadily on the opposite bank of the pool. Then a shrill, peremptory note came from the throat of the Jovian guard and a wire-thin tentacle lashed viciously across his naked back, cutting deep. Alan's face wrinkled like the snout of a snarling dog; and he bent over the bubbling spring, tearing savagely with a long, claw-tipped instrument at the crust of sulphur forming continuously on the hip of the caldron. A heap of the lemon yellow fragments lay behind him.
Through slitted lids he glared up at the mighty figure of the Jovian, hatred burning in his eyes. Damned sluur – he'd pay for that – and soon! They'd planned everything – he and Cory and Parker, and the Uranian, Tull – and before many minutes passed, they'd hear the signal. … The signal, the roar of the supply ship from Io – and this sluur would boil in the sulphur pool, and they'd be heading for freedom! Freedom – and Max Brodeur!
His ears strained for the first sound of the supply ship's rockets, a tenseness creeping through him. And even as he labored, he watched the yellow-skinned guard, to be ready when the signal came. Formidable antagonists, these giant brutes with their tremendous muscles. It was no joke for two Terrestrials – or even a half dozen – to attack one of them. Ten feet above the obsidian surface of the Pit this sluur towered, his great bulbous body supported by three mighty, multi-joined limbs terminating in immense sucker-discs. His head, if it could be called a head, was merely an elongation of his body; and the bare expanse of flesh was broken only by a single huge eye, faceted like insect's, and an enormous, toothless mouth. From the top of his head projected six long, wiry tentacles – and with these that Alan feared most. For in them lay the strength of spring steel.
Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Mutineers of Space (Dynamic Science Stories, February 1939)