Saturday, 12 July 2014

Venus

Originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, 2 Sept 2013.

According to the Internet, Farewell, Fantastic Venus and All About Venus are two anthologies, both edited by Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison, both published in 1968, with a lot of common contents. I had not heard of All About Venus, which is perhaps simply the American edition of Farewell..., although with not exactly the same contents?

After space probes into the atmosphere and onto the surface of Venus had disclosed that the Venerian environment is lethally acidic and hot enough to melt lead, Farewell, Fantastic Venus celebrated what had then become the redundantly speculative Venus of oceans, swamps, jungles, breathable atmosphere and intelligent inhabitants.

The anthology appropriately contains, among many fictional and non-fictional items:

extracts from novels by Olaf Stapledon, ER Burroughs and CS Lewis;
"The Big Rain" and "Sister Planet" by Poul Anderson.

Brian Aldiss told me at the 1970 British Science Fiction Convention that:

when Robert Heinlein was asked for permission for his Venus story, "Logic of Empire", to be included in Farewell..., he refused on the ground that it was part of his Future History;

when Poul Anderson was asked for permission for his "Sister Planet" to be included, he agreed but offered instead the earlier, unpublished version which was very religious.

Comments:

the Stapledon novel, Last And First Men, is Stapledon's future history and as such is a literary successor to HG Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come;

Wells wrote nothing about Venus except a very short passage near the end of The War Of The Worlds where Terrestrial astronomers saw that the Martians had launched capsules towards Venus so that very short passage could have been included in Farewell...;

"The Big Rain" is part of Anderson's Psychotechnic future history, which was modeled on Heinlein's Future History;

the two Anderson stories present contrasting desert and ocean Venuses (as the two Genesis creation myths present contrasting water-covered and desert Earths);

contra Heinlein, the anthology should have included "Logic of Empire" before "The Big Rain";

the anthology should also have included extracts from the Dan Dare comic strip in which equatorial volcanoes on Venus separate the southern warlike green Treens from the northern peaceful blue Therons;

having said all that, I have yet to read "Sister Planet" for the very first time but will now do so.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    What interests me is finding out here there was an earlier, unpublished version of "Sister Planet" which is different from the form of that story I've read. A hypothetical COMPLETE COLLECTED WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON should definititely include that text!

    Sean

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