what to see on
the moon

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

stone statues on the moon

...what artists!  You might quarrel with their taste, for no line anywhere in any of the three statues had any beauty.  You could not say a word against their skill.  Except for the head and face inside each headpiece, which obviously could not be attempted in such a medium, they were perfect.  Photographic accuracy had never reached such a point on earth.  And though they were faceless you could see from the set of their shoulders, and indeed of their whole bodies, that a momentary pose had been exactly seized.  Each was the statue of a man turning to look behind him.  Months of work had doubtless gone to the carving of each; it caught that instantaneous gesture like a stone snap-shot.

Jenkins' idea was now to send his message at once.  Before anything happened to himself, Earth must hear this amazing news...  He was happy now.  He had escaped his destiny...

Up from behind the shoulders of his own shadow another shadow pushed its way along the dazzling rock...

C S Lewis, Form of Things Unknown (in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (1966)

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a hostile mist on the moon

...Their respite was brief.  The young leader called them sharply to their feet, for a quick look back had shown the angry twisting vapour creeping its way towards them.  In near panic they staggered along crazily until a further glance behind showed the Mist was farther away.

"Keep it up," panted Chris.  "We'll get a bit farther ahead, and then we'll have a rest."

When the explorers had put about a quarter of a mile between them and their evil enemy, the leader called a halt.  Thankfully they laid the unconscious boy down and sat for a few precious moments gathering strength.  Their heads were much clearer now they had escaped from the clutches of the Mist.  Perhaps Tony, too, would soon come round.  Unfortunately there was little they could do for him while he was sealed inside his suit except to increase slightly his oxygen supply.

"Come on," Chris called, "it's getting nearer."

True enough, the twisting grey mass had edged forward to within less than a couple of hundred yards....

Hugh Walters, Moon Base One (1961)

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rapport with a lungless native of the moon

... He had only to see a thing done once - or at most twice - to be able to repeat the motions involved.

"And," said Worden, carefully detached, "he isn't afraid of me now.  He understands that I intend to be friendly.  While I was carrying him I talked to him.  He felt the vibration of my chest from my voice.

"Just before I left him I picked him up and talked to him again.  He looked at my mouth as it moved and put his paw on my chest to feel the vibrations.  I put his paw at my throat.  The vibrations are clearer there.  He seemed fascinated.  I don't know how you'd rate his intelligence but it's above that of a human baby."

Then he said with even greater detachment, "I am disturbed.  If you must know, I don't like the idea of exterminating his kind.  They have tools - they have intelligence.  I think we should try to communicate with them in some way - try to make friends - stop killing them for dissection."

The communicator was silent...

Murray Leinster, Keyhole (Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1951)

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turtle-folk on the moon's far side

...Our dazed eyes, moving from that gigantic transparent roof to the vista about us, we saw that there stretched away in all directions to the horizons a smooth level plain, a great plain that was covered as far as the eye could reach by buildings!  Buildings of metal, buildings like none that man had ever looked upon before, surely; buildings that towered for thousands of feet, many of them, through the dusk toward the transparent roof far above!  Buildings that were many-sided, angle polyhedrons, that were like great faceted diamonds of metal, that were like giant metal crystals ranged in rows and streets!  In their angled, faceted sides were set circles of soft glowing white light...

And that strange, great city swarmed with life!  For here and there across and above it there flitted smoothly in ceaseless swarms scores and hundreds of great flat circles, throbbing from building-roof to roof, circles upon which we could see dark figures.  Figures erect and bulbous, their bodies cased in shells, their short limbs ending in webbed and taloned paws, their great heads reptilian and tapering, borne on snake-like heads! 

Edmond Hamilton, The Other Side of the Moon (Amazing Stories Quarterly, Fall 1929)

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the moon's inner landscape

...Several miles from the ship rose foothills which climbed picturesquely toward the cloudy heights of the loftier mountains behind them, and as we looked in the direction of those latter, and then out across the forest, there was appreciable to us a strangeness that at first we could not explain, but which we later discovered was due to the fact that there was no horizon, the distance that one could see being dependent solely upon one's power of vision.  The general effect was of being in the bottom of a tremendous bowl, with sides so high that one might not see the top.

The ground about us was covered with rank vegetation of pale hues - lavenders, violets, pinks and yellows predominating.  Pink grasses which became distinctly flesh-color at maturity grew in abundance, and the stalks of most of the flowering plants were of this same peculiar hue.  The flowers themselves were often of highly complex form, of pale and delicate shades, of great size and rare beauty.  There were low shrubs that bore a berry-like fruit, and many of the trees of the forest carried fruit of considerable size and of a variety of forms and colors...

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Moon Maid (1923)

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a biped evolved on the moon

...he was eating this coarse brown grass, using his forefeet or apelike hands to feed himself.  He walked erect like a man, but his arms were long enough to reach the ground.  His body was hairless, but the skin was thick and full of wrinkles, like that of an elephant.  The head was quite small and presented an apelike appearance.  The ears were almost invisible, while two grotesque holes in the face served as nostrils.  The jaw was large and massive, but I was unable to see the teeth, to determine whether or not he was entirely herbivorous.  His chest was much smaller than one would expect to find on a creature living in a rarefied atmosphere.  The abdomen was unusually large, which caused me to think their eating habits were about the same as those of our cattle, who fill their stomachs at opportune times and chew the food at their leisure.

Their legs were short and thick, but showed unusual muscular development, which did not seem necessary on a world where the force of gravity was so weak.  But his feet were the strangest part of his anatomy.  No creature of the earth ever had feet like these.  They looked like large, flat caricatures of human feet, but their width was greater than the height of the grotesque creature himself, and the length of the feet was in proportion to the width.  If it were not for their use they would look more like big leathery blankets than feet... 

R H Romans, The Moon Conquerors (Science Wonder Quarterly, Winter 1930)

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gold on the moon - and lassitude

...I hunted for a time with a certain intentness, but the heat was still very great, and the thinness of the air felt like a hoop about one's chest.  I came presently into a hollow basin bristling with tall, brown, dry fronds about its edge, and I sat down under these to rest and cool.  I intended to rest for only a little while.  I put down my clubs beside me, and sat resting my chin on my hands.  I saw with a sort of colourless interest that the rocks of the basin, where here and there the crackling dry lichens had shrunk away to show them, were all veined and splattered with gold, that here and there bosses of rounded and wrinkled gold projected from among the litter.  What did that matter now?  A sort of languor had possession of my limbs and mind...

H G Wells, The First Men in the Moon (1901)

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on the moon in ancient days

...In half an hour I had arrived at the edge of the red plateau.  A steep slope fell before me to the edge of the jungle, perhaps two-thirds of a mile farther below.  A slope carpeted with the thick fiber of the green moss.

A weird scene.  Clear cerulean sky, darkly, richly blue...  The wide valley, with the broad silvery stream, winding among golden forests, and patches of green.  The purple balloons floating here and yon, huge spheres swaying on the red cables that anchored them above the jungle.

I seated myself on the moss, where I could overlook that valley of eldritch wonder.  I remained there for some time, staring out across it, while I ate most of the food that I had brought, and half-emptied the bottle of water.

Then I decided to descend to the edge of the jungle.

The sun was just at the meridian - the whole of the short afternoon, was yet before me.  I had ample time, I thought, to go down the slope to the edge of the jungle and return before the sudden nightfall...

Jack Williamson, The Moon Era (Wonder Stories, February 1932)

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economics of survival on the moon

“Oh, ‘tanstaafl.’ Means ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ And isn’t,” I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across the room, “or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in the long run, or turns out worthless.”

“An interesting philosophy.”

"Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.” I fanned air. “Was Earthside once and heard expression ‘Free as air.’ This air ain’t free, you pay for every breath.”

“Really? No one has asked me to pay to breathe.” He smiled. “Perhaps I should stop.”

“Can happen, you almost breathed vacuum tonight. But nobody asks you because you’ve paid. For you, is part of round-trip ticket, for me it's a quarterly charge. I started to tell how my family buys and sells air to community co-op, decided it was too complicated. But we both pay.”

Robert A Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966)

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insect-men on the surface of the moon

...This particular crater was a small one, and the level floor was only some thirty yards below the rim.  Larry stared in amazement at the creatures who were coming to sit in long rows around a small mound in the center of the crater.  He hardly knew whether to call them men or animals.  They had the hard shell and articulated legs of an insect, but their faces had a semi-human appearance in spite of the pair of long antennae that grew out of their foreheads.  Their feet made a dry rustling sound as they clambered down over the rock, and they carried metal clubs with spiked heads.  Larry saw that they walked with four of their six limbs while the upper pair were equipped with three curved fingers each.  On the top of each antenna was a round ball that glowed with a phosphorescent light...

John Murray Reynolds, Goddess of the Moon (Planet Stories, Spring 1940)

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preserved lunarian minds

...The radiant walls lighted their way, and they came to a large room.  In the exact center of this room reared a limpidly transparent cube about twenty feet in diameter.  Big Oaf motioned to it, and Pendrake walked over, aware of the creature puffing along behind him.

"Look down!" said the other, and his voice was almost gentle.

Pendrake had already seen.

At some depth below, a blue-white flame glowed with an intense brightness.  After one glance Pendrake had to look away.  But he kept looking at it with quick additional glances.

"It's been shiny like that," said Big Oaf, "since I came here.  What do you make of it, feller?"

Pendrake said silently, agonizingly, into the cube, "Please rescue me.  I need help!"

From some vast distance in the cube a voice answered into his brain, "Friend, your ability to sense our presence gains you nothing, for it will be long indeed before men can use what we have and know."

"Have mercy," Pendrake said shakily.  "I am about to be murdered..."

"Very well, you may choose.  Join us in here forever."

"You mean - "

"Forever absorbed into the unity, free of all passion and pain forever."

Pendrake shrank.  His instantaneous reaction was total revulsion.  He had no feeling at all that he was being offered freedom...

A E van Vogt, Moonbeast (1963)

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a thronged lunar abyss

He visited the laboratories and the power receiving and transforming stations.  He went through the crowded levels of the dwellers.  He saw a slow dance performed before a packed theater crowd by a serpentine Moon-woman, utterly ugly to his human standards, yet with an unearthly beauty of her own.  He listened to sad, cold music, like the complaint of proud demons.

Avidly he drank it all in, absorbing the strange life of these strange beings.  But behind every other feeling was the desperate seeking for a way of escape.  Even when he was undergoing some psychological test for Lu Tzo, who was his attentive and coldly interested shadow at all times, the deeper levels of his mind were fermenting and seething with plans for flight...

Together they went to the top level of Li-Kar where the space ships had their berths.  The sun should have been shining on this side of the Moon, but Li-Kar was in twilight, a queer, dark twilight with faint stars showing in a blue patch directly above.  Outside this patch there seemed to be a somber sky, deeply purple, without a relieving glimmer of light.  He would have been mystified if he had not known that he was looking on the towering sides of the abyss which contained Li-Kar, and not on the sky at all...

Myer Krulfeld, The Lunar Pit (Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1940)

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lunar flowers gifted with sight

"...If it is the glare that made them draw back it must be that they have some organs so sensitive to light that quite possibly they can see!  I must find out about this."

Thereupon he began questioning the lillies again to discover how much they could tell him of their sense of vision.  He shot his hand out and asked them if they knew what movement he had made.  Every time (though they had no idea of what he was trying to find out) they told him precisely what he had done.  Then going close to one large flower he passed his hand all round it; and the blossom turned its head and faced the moving hand all the way round the circle.

There was no doubt in our minds whatever, when we had finished our experiments, that the Vanity Lillies could in their own way see - though where the machinery called eyes was placed in their anatomy we could not as yet discover.

The Doctor spent hours and days trying to solve this problem.  But, he told me, he met with very little success.  For a while he was forced to the conclusion (since he could not find in the flowers any eyes such as we know) that what he had taken for a sense of vision was only some other sense, highly developed, which produced the same results as seeing...

Hugh Lofting, Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (1929)

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peril on the moon's "Sea of thirst"

For a million years the bubble had been growing, like a vast abscess, below the root of the mountains.  Throughout the entire history of Man, gas from the Moon's not-yet-wholly-dead interior had been forcing itself along lines of weakness, accumulating in cavities...  

...Ahead of Selene, in a circle many acres in extent, the smooth plain puckered like a navel.  The Sea was alive and moving, stirred by the forces that had woken it from its age-long sleep.  The centre of the disturbance deepened into a funnel, as if a giant whirlpool was forming in the dust.  Every stage of that nightmare transformation was pitilessly illuminated by the earthlight, until the crater was so deep that its far wall was lost in shadow, and it seemed as if Selene was racing into a curving crescent of utter blackness - an arc of annihilation.

The truth was almost as bad.  By the time that Pat had reached the controls, the boat was sliding and skittering far down that impossible slope.  Its own momentum, and the accelerating flow of the dust beneath it, was carrying it headlong into the depths.  There was nothing he could do but attempt to keep on an even keel, and to hope that their speed would carry them up the far side of the crater before it collapsed upon them...

The straining motors were making some headway, but not enough.  The falling dust was gathering speed - and, what was worse, it was rising outside the walls of the cruiser.  Now it had reached the lower edge of the windows; now it was creeping up the panes...

Arthur C Clarke, A Fall of Moondust (1961)

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a sombre forest on the moon

...Flying slowly at an altitude of two hundred feet, he passed over level areas covered with velvety stretches of gray vegetation that resembled mosses and lichens, and over hills and valleys clothed with forests of weird, grotesque growths.

There were fungi shaped like saucers, umbrellas, cones, spearheads, and even upraised hands, all rusty black in color.  There were black stalks, fully fifty feet in height, topped by five-pointed purple stars, huge gray pear-shaped growths from which there curled sinuous branches that resembled the tentacles of cuttle fish, and black trees, some of which were a hundred feet in height, with branches that unrolled like the leaves of sword-ferns.

Disposed to view some of these wonders at closer range, Ted lowered his craft to the ground.  A glance at his exterior thermometer showed the outside temperature to be 210° above zero, Fahrenheit, almost the boiling point of water at sea level on earth!  He accordingly closed his visor and turned on the valve of his insulated compressed air tank before opening the door of his turret.  Slamming this quickly behind him, he stepped down from his craft, sinking ankle deep in the soft, gray moss that coated the forest floor...

Otis Adelbert Kline, Maza of the Moon (1930)

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