For a scenic browse, and an answer-page for Guess The World...
...We did not see it die, out there in the freezing fire; it was beyond the reach of our instruments now, and none of them recorded its end. Yet every one of us knew when that moment came, and that is why we are not interested when those who have seen only the films and tapes tell us that we were watching some purely natural phenomenon.#
How can one explain what we felt, in that last moment when half our little world was enmeshed in the dissolving tendrils of that huge but immaterial brain? I can only say that it was a soundless cry of anguish, a death pang that seeped into our minds without passing through the gateways of the senses. Not one of us doubted then, or has ever doubted since, that he had witnessed the passing of a giant.
We may have been both the first and the last of all men to see so mighty a fall...
Arthur C Clarke, Out of the Sun (Worlds of If, February 1958)
...There was no way back to the partial security of the lake basin. The overhang cut him off from that. The futility of trying to hide was apparent, but nevertheless he wormed in among some crimson ferns. The city was at his left. To the right, the fertile plain washed out into a badland of lava and shattered rock, which narrowed and vanished around a shoulder of purple basalt. This defile was still in deep shadow.
The riders were still far away. He saw them splash across a ford, toy figures making little bursts of spray.
The watcher above the trees darted suddenly downward. The quarry was breaking cover...
Leigh Brackett, Shannach - The Last (Planet Stories, November 1952)
...Swinnerton wondered how much of the animal life had survived. Watching and wandering, they saw. Insects buzzed about, amazingly large ones, the size of some birds. Birds, in turn, were all bigger than eagles, snapping up the huge insects as Earth birds snap up gnats. Mammals were winged. Flying wolflike creatures lumbered by, seeking prey in the universal rule of life.
One great bearlike creature, with a membranous wing spread of thirty feet, hovered over them as though contemplating attack. Then it flapped away grotesquely. It pounced on a turkey-sized bird, rended it with its claws, and savagely gobbled it down - all in mid-air...
It was strange and pathetic. These monsters represented the last of a planet's evolution...
Gordon A Giles, Via Mercury (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1940)
...For a while, he did not associate the green luminosity with any idea of limitation; for he seemed to be floating in a vast abyss. Then, suddenly, he perceived his error. Putting out his hands, he touched on either side the wall of a narrow vault, and saw that its roof was only a few feet above him. The floor lay at an equal distance beneath; and he himself, without visible support, was reclining in mid-air. The green light, streaming mysteriously from all sides of the vault, had given him the illusion of unbounded space.
Abruptly, at his feet, the end of the vault seemed to disappear in a white glory like pure sunlight. Long, sinuous, six-fingered hands reached out from the glory, grasped him about the ankles, and drew him gently from the green-lit space in which he floated. Weight seemed to return to him as his limbs and body entered the dazzling whiteness; and a moment later, he found himself standing erect in a large chamber, lined with some sort of pale, shimmering metal. Beside him, a strange, unearthly being was closing the panel-like door through which he had been drawn from the emerald-litten vault; and beyond this being, there were two others of the same type...
of them was about the height of a tall man, and the physical
conformation was vaguely similar to that of mankind, but was marked by
an almost god-like beauty and grace of contour... In place of hair, the
full, intellectual heads were crowned with a mass of heavy flesh-like
filaments, hued with changing iridescence, and tossing and curling with a
weird, restless life, like the serpent locks of Medusa...
...I considered running for cover among the small crags and boulders that jutted like house-sized teeth up through the lava. But to run might be to draw attention to myself.
Finally, with utmost caution, I advanced.
On a clear area of plain beside the trail, I came upon a group of about a dozen barrel-sized, bulbous vegetables, ridged like cacti. They had twiggy tufts the size of chop-sticks growing from their tops; the rattling sound came from these sticks tap-tapping.
I ventured closer still. I'd never learn what's what if I avoided every off-putting thing. I stopped at three yards and watched the twigs make their noise. My tension eased as I came to the conclusion that the rattling was purely defensive, evolved to ward off predators. So, having had my look, I returned to the trail. For a while I still heard the click-click-click behind me.
my imagination the noise began to seem like an exchange of remarks, and
the sick eerie hunch that those blind isolated things might be talking made this world seem infinitely lonelier...
Lucky ran forward eagerly in the steady stride which he could maintain for hours without feeling unduly tired. Under the circumstances, he felt he could have maintained such a stride even under Earth’s gravity.
And then, with no warning, no premonitory glow in the sky, no hint of any atmosphere, there was the Sun!
Rather, there was a hairline that was the Sun. It was an unbearable line of light edging a notch of broken rock on the horizon, as though some celestial painter had outlined the gray stone in brilliant white...
Isaac Asimov, Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury (1956)
stared about him in amazement. The narrow dimlit way was jammed with
revelers. The women wore the historic costume, a short skirt low on
bare hips and a diminutive jacket with squared sleeves. Their black
hair was done up on top of their heads with blossoms of the red egalet
that only blooms during the Rains. Wooden clogs were fastened to their
feet. The men wore gaudy, loose trousers and cummerbunds of green.
Their chests were bare, and many bands of hammered silver ornamented
Emmett McDowell, The Red Witch of Mercury (Planet Stories, Summer 1945)