what to see on
neptune

frank r paul life on neptune

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

looking around cautiously on neptune

...On the side of the planet away from the sun where they had expected to find darkness, they were astonished to find very little points of light.  Dana was puzzled and at a complete loss to explain it.

At  last, on the shore of a great, placid lake they found a wide clearing.  Something had happened to leave it almost devoid of vegetation as far as they could see.  There were rocky pinnacles and great rolling hills of solid rock.  Near the edge of the jungle a shallow river meandered among the hills and emptied into the lake.  Beyond the river the gullies gradually merged with the hill tops to form a plateau.

Dana lowered the ship and settled it gently upon the top of a low hill beyond the river.

"Let's get out here and look around," he suggested.  "We'd better take that little machine gun along; or maybe better, the portable death ray."

Henrik Dahl Juve, The Monsters of Neptune (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Summer 1930)

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and see Neptunian Allure

on the neptunian ocean

...Vasc Avam, steering their long, tubular craft, turned his green face worriedly from the wheel.

"We'll have to run beneath surface or these waves will smash us to pieces!" the Jovian mine-boss exclaimed.

"Go ahead - but keep right after Orr Libro's boat," Carson Brand directed.

The Martian's craft was also submerging, ahead.  Vasc Avam shifted the control of the deflecting rudders and their own boat slid down and throbbed along twenty feet under the surface.

Captain Future, deep in thought, looked out through the transparent wall of their craft at the lightning-lit waters they were travelling through.  Each violet glare showed the teeming life of the sea about them.

Shoals of brilliant, sparkling "diamond-fish" flashed away, like living gems.  "Air-fish", those weird winged creatures that could live with equal ease in the air or in the sea, flew away in startled undersea flight...

Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future's Challenge (1940, 1967)

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a deserted city on neptune

...a tenseness held all of us as our great flier's faceted polyhedron dropped on through the pale light beneath the great roof toward the black-walled, chequer-board like city that stretched across the surface of the great world beneath us.  And now, as we sank lower, our eyes were making out ever more clearly the details of that amazing city.

The rectangular black-walled compartments held, as we had half-realized from above, various strange-shaped mechanisms and objects which we could even now only vaguely discern.  We could see clearly, though, that here and there across all the vast city's compartmented surface there stood giant metal globes, each a hundred feet in diameter and each occupying a square compartment of its own.  There seemed hundreds of these gleaming globes, scattered here and there in compartments across the city's surface as far as we could see...

Edmond Hamilton, The Universe Wreckers (Amazing Stories, May-July 1930)

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the lamp-lit fields of neptune

...The clouds had passed and a golden glory was settling over the face of the countryside.  While we stared, wondering how this could possibly be, we saw what perhaps we had overlooked before.  Set at intervals about the countryside were great many-faceted concave mirrors.  At least that was what they looked like to us.  Each was set on a vast straddle of lattice-like girders, and each, from the slight movements we saw as we watched, seemed capable of sweeping the full circumference of the sky. 

But that was not all.  Between each pair of mirrors was another lattice-like structure, bearing at its top a great, glowing golden ball, a thing so huge and so brilliant that its size stunned us and the upthrust of its rays almost blinded us.

"Artificial suns," said someone in an awed tone.  "They've solved the secret of atomic energy!"

J M Walsh, The Vanguard To Neptune (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Spring 1932)

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blue cetaceans in neptune's ocean

Excerpt from Professor Diego Kraken’s The Cetacean Myths of Neptune:

Once upon a time, there was a pod of Neptunian porpoises that lived outside the deep sea crevice called The Great Depths.  Now, Neptune is very far from the sun, and is covered almost entirely in water.  Life there has developed differently.  The main source of heat energy on Neptune is its enormous molten core which bubbles up here and there in vents.  Chemosynthetic bacteria cleave to these vents and so do ecological producers who transform the heat and oxygen dissolved in the water into what we may as well call plants, or more precisely seaweed.  Fish feed on these plants, and plankton feeds on the bacteria.  The convection of the hot water rising brings the plankton towards the surface, and the fourteen moons of Neptune make waves that mix in oxygen.  Life on Neptune tends to cluster around deep sea crevices, because that is where the source of life emerges.  And so, like everywhere else in the solar system, life abounds.

Neptunian porpoises look just like Earth porpoises except they are a little bigger and appear purple to our eyes.  They catch fish and also need to come up to the surface to breathe air…

Violet Bertelsen, The Lure of the Depths (Vintage Worlds 1, ed. J M Greer and Zendexor, 2018)

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men re-evolve on far-future neptune

…Now in the fullness of time, about three hundred million terrestrial years after the solar collision, a certain minute, hairless, rabbit-like creature, scampering on the polar grasslands, found itself greatly persecuted by a swift hound from the south.  The subhuman rabbit was relatively unspecialized, and had no effective means of defence or flight.  It was almost exterminated.  A few individuals, however, saved themselves by taking to the dense and thick-trunked scrub, whither the hound could not follow them.  Here they had to change their diet and manner of life, deserting grass for roots, berries, and even worms and beetles.  Their forelimbs were now increasingly used for digging and climbing, and eventually for weaving nests of stick and straw.  In this species the fingers had never grown together.  Internally, the forepaw was like a minute clenched fist from the elongated and exposed knuckles of which separate toes protruded.  And now the knuckles elongated themselves still further, becoming in time a new set of fingers.  Within the palm of the new little monkey-hand there still remained traces of man’s ancient fingers, bent in upon themselves.

As of old, manipulation gave rise to clearer percipience.  And this, in conjunction with the necessity of frequent experiments in diet, hunting, and defence, produced at length a real versatility of behaviour and suppleness of mind.  The rabbit throve, adopted an almost upright gait, and continued to increase in stature and in brain.  Yet, just as the new hand was not merely a resurrection of the old hand, so the new regions of the brain were no mere revival of the atrophied human cerebrum, but a new organ, which overlaid and swallowed up that ancient relic.  The creature’s mind, therefore, was in many respects a new mind, though moulded to the same great basic needs.  Like his fore-runners, of course, he craved food, love, glory, companionship.  In pursuit of these ends he devised weapons and traps, and built wicker villages.  He held pow-wows.  He became the Tenth Men.

Olaf Stapledon, Last And First Men (1930)

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the swaying mountains of neptune

When the Venjisk had descended to within a couple of yards of the surface, the order was given to lower the land-anchors: wired weights which could, at a signal, fire oblique prongs into soil or rock; but since the wind was scant and the ship thus unlikely to drift at its mooring, Captain Tarven Namaksa deemed it safest to stabilise by weight alone, rather than risk what might ensue from piercing this terrain. 

For a similar reason, when he appeared at the exit hatch his right hand gripped a ceremonial sword rather than an energy or projectile weapon.  If necessary he could draw laser, but only as a last resort.  Where possible, ground-damage should be avoided amidst the Wobbly Mountains.

A rope ladder was paid out and he descended to the surface, followed by a dozen guards and investigators selected from the crew, including Interrogator Eyol Mnand - all provided with swords which they carried with varying degrees of self-consciousness.   

Then, having disembarked the captain and his party, the airship rose again, to an altitude of about seventy yards, from which the First Officer, Oren Xecal, could hope to stand sentinel against all comers.

Meanwhile the grounded personnel formed a circle, facing every way, watching out for signs of unusual movement.  The bowl-shaped depression in which they stood was a land of silence except for the barely audible creak of the swaying mountains...

Robert Gibson, Outlaws of Neptune

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shooting a movie on neptune

…the Perseus began to navigate cautiously above the weird forests of the ocean floor, moving in widening circles.  The muffled throbbing of the baffled rockets was loud in their ears.

“We’re looking for a city of the sea-folk,” Jim Willard explained.  “There’s supposed to be one in this region.”

“What if they don’t like the idea of our visiting them to make scenes?” asked Jon Valdane doubtfully. 

“They’ll be all right,” said Davis.  “They’re not exactly human, but they’re semi-civilized and friendly now.”

The lights caught two monstrous ursals engaged in a ferocious underwater struggle. Then as the two creatures separated and fled from the brilliance, a sharp cry came from the bridge-room.

“Submarine city two miles ahead.”

A moment later, the bow-rockets blasted and then the Perseus sank downward toward an open glade in the weird polyp-forest.

They all strained their gaze ahead in an endeavour to make out the outlines of the submarine city.  But only a dim glimpse came to their watching eyes through the dusky water of a distant mass of black, cubical buildings surrounding a central pyramid…

Edmond Hamilton, Magic Moon (Captain Future, Winter 1944)

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yellow-violet jungle on neptune

…Although the king cared nothing for their ceremonies, he was uneasy.  Seldom it was that Dutch anticipated trouble, but the odds against him were so stupendous that he dared not but follow his subjects.  Since there was nothing left of his palace equipment, he turned toward the jungle and followed the victorious army.  He crossed the stream and then wound around the hills until he came to the great tangle of yellow-violet trees and vines.  So dense was the growth that the natives maintained tunnels through the dripping mass.  The king selected one of the tunnels into which the army had disappeared, and plunged after in pursuit.

Had this jungle been on the earth, the interior of the tunnel would have been dark as night, but here the light came up from the ground, thus maintaining a uniform intensity of illumination that was equal to that of the plain.

The path had been churned by countless feet into a thin, creamy mud in which the king waded ankle deep.  But it was this same disagreeable mud which guided him through the maze of tunnels and cross passages, for the sides of the recently used course were newly splashed with dripping mud.  Occasionally he heard the bellow of warriors deep in the jungle but so far in advance were they that it was only the louder sounds that reached him. 

For three “sleeps” the king penetrated deeper and deeper into the mysterious jungle…

Henrik Dahl Juve, The Struggle for Neptune (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Fall 1930)

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See also Neptunian Allure.

reversed time-stream on neptune

…The planet had been out of bounds ever since those geodetic expeditions had set out for Neptune over two centuries ago – and never come back.  Early space patrols and search parties had been sent into that part of the celestrial sphere – only to disappear forever.  The planet had become a symbol of the terrifying unknown.  Eventually it was forbidden by interplanetary law to stray beyond the orbit of Uranus.

But why?  There must be reasons for those disappearances.  Who could resist an invitation like that?

“Some day,” they said.  “Some day.  All in good time.”

Now was as good a time as any.

…A good-sized city.  No more than a mile away.  Darrel glanced back at the ship from the hilltop, shrugged and turned toward the city.

When he reached it he found a nightmare world.

These Neptunians were all crazy.  Disregarding every natural law, they dashed about the streets backward.  Every last one of them.  And they stared at him as though he were a freak!

Henry Guth, Planet in Reverse (Planet Stories, Spring 1948)

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neptune in the twilight of man

…We landed on Neptune.  M’reen was the city.  Large as the Yawk City of my own day – and no one living there.

The planet was cold and dark – horribly cold.  The sun was a tiny, pale disk, heatless and almost lightness.  But the city was perfectly comfortable.  The air was fresh and cool, moist with the scent of growing blossoms, perfumed with them.  And the whole giant metal framework trembled just slightly with the humming, powerful beat of the mighty machines that had made and cared for it.

I learned from records I deciphered, because of my knowledge of the ancient tongue that their tongue was based on, and the tongue of that day when man was dying, that the city was built three million, seven hundred and thirty thousand, one hundred and fifty years after my birth.  Not a machine had been touched by the hand of man since that day.

Yet the air was perfect for man.  And the warm, rose-silver glow hung in the air here and supplied the only illumination.

I visited some of their other cities where there were men.  And there, on the retreating outskirts of man’s domain, I first heard the Song of Longings, as I called it.

And another, The Song of Forgotten Memories…

John W Campbell, Twilight (Astounding, November 1934)

>>  Guess The World - Fourth Series

artificial mountain on neptune

…Almost the first moments of that day of recreation afforded me one of those pictures which haunt the memory ever after.  The sun had risen over a burning ocean.  He was not, as you might expect in our remote world, a small and feeble sun; for between your age and ours a collision had increased his bulk and splendour to a magnitude somewhat greater than that with which you are familiar.

Overhead the sky was blue.  But for Neptunian eyes its deep azure was infused with another unique primary colour, which your vision could not have detected.  Toward the sunrise, this tincture of the zenith gave place to green, gold, fire-red, purple, and yet another of the hues which elude the primitive eye.  Opposite there lay darkness.  But low in the darkness gleamed something which you would have taken for a very distant snowy horn, whose base was lost in night, though its crest gleamed orange in the morning.  A second glance would have revealed it as too precipitous and too geometrical for any mountain.  It was in fact one of our great public buildings, many scores of miles distant, and nearly one score in height.  In a world where mountains are crushed by their own weight these towering edifices could not stand, were it not for their incredibly rigid materials, wherein artificial atoms play the chief part.  The huge crag of masonry now visible was relatively new, but it could compare in age with the younger of your terrestrial mountains…

Olaf Stapledon, Last Men in London (1932)

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Comment from Zendexor: note the Stapledonian mistake about Neptunian gravity which actually is only 1.15 Earth-normal.  An usual case of an OSS world being less friendly in one respect than the real version!

life's last heirs on neptune

“…It was a jewelled world.  Cities – the great, perfect cities – still glowed.  They glowed in soft, golden light above, and below, the harsher brighter blue of mercury vapour lighted them…

“ ‘We enter’ – he named a city; I cannot reproduce that name – ‘now…’

“…So I entered that city, the living city of machines, that had been when time and the universe were young.

“I did not know then, that, when all this universe had dissolved away, when the last sun was black and cold, scattered dust in a fragment of a scattered universe, this planet with its machine cities would go on – a last speck of warm light in a long-dead universe.  I did not know then.

“ ‘You still wonder that we let man die out?’ asked the machine.  ‘It was best.  In another brief million years he would have lost his high estate.  It was best.

“ ‘Now we go on.  We cannot end, as he did.  It is automatic with us.’

“I felt it then, somehow.  The blind, purposeless continuance of the machine cities I could understand.  They had no intelligence, only functions.  These machines – these living, thinking, reasoning investigators – had only one function, too.  Their function was slightly different: they were designed to be eternally curious, eternally investigating…”

John W Campbell, Night (Astounding Stories, October 1935)

>>  Guess The World - Fifth Series