After posting the article on Lovecraft’s Venus, and its associated correction, Hiraku Takeoka suggested a Venusian story by Clark Ashton Smith. This time the story was “The Immeasurable Horror” where in the distance future of 1979 humans are exploring Venus. The “Smithian” Venus was a seething stew of plant – fungal – animal biomass going through extremely high rates of productivity and decomposition. However, this “hyper-eutrophic” Venusian ecosystem was consistently cropped by an apex predator (see below) and the first contact between it and humans does not go well. Once again, I highly recommend this story.
The top of food chain on the planet Venus; The Immeasurable Horror (from http://www.eldritchdark.com)
Turns out Clark Ashton Smith wrote a number of stories about Venus. Another one I recently read was “A Voyage to Sfanomoe.” In this story two brothers who know the gradual sinking of Atlantis meant the end of their civilization, decide to build a spaceship and travel to Sfanomoe (Venus) to escape this cataclysm. Once again, Venus was portrayed as being covered with a dense canopy of alien vegetation, which welcomed the brothers with open branches. Again, a very entertaining story.
Smith wrote other stories on Venus but these two tales really portray the planet as a highly productive system brimming with life. Such a view of Venus is not surprising since at the time the planet’s dense cloud cover was hypothesized to represent a wet, humid, swampy world.
Next time we will discuss the planet Mars in Lovecraft’s solar system. Thank you – Fred.