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Siren Worlds: the Lure of the Inner Planets

1/06/2012. Contributed by Mark Stewart

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“Farewell Fantastic Venus!” So wrote Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison when they penned the title of their SF anthology in 1968; a collection of stories assembled in response to the news relayed by long-range probes such as the Russian Venera and Vega spacecraft: beneath the obscuring clouds, Venus was nothing like Earth.

For decades those clouds had been a canvas filled with startling images “straight out of the unconscious,” often of lush tropical forests inhabited by huge dragonflies, glittering arthropods with bodies longer than the span of a man’s arms and with wings the size of a microlight; a world which attracted some of the most creative minds in the genre. At a stroke, the probes, with their electromagnetic eyes and piercing antennae, did away with all of that. The anthology was valedictory in tone but perhaps even now, over four decades later, it’s still too early to say goodbye to that more romantic Venus. It may still be there, waiting to be unpacked, just like Mars.

The full article is available here as an Adobe PDF file...siren_worlds.pdf. The piece originally appeared in the e-newsletter: Odyssey - published by the British Interplanetary Society.

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