Transwarp Tuesday! Foundling on Venus by John and Dorothy De Courcy

On Venus, no one can hear you sob…

Even more than usual, I’m dreaming of escaping this grubby old world and seeking purer air and better manners somewhere far away, where inventing Twitter is a criminal offence, politicians must take a vow of silence, and chocolate grows on trees. Perhaps Venus will be an idyllic vacation spot… let’s see…

Transwarp Tuesday! 2

Foundling on Venus
by John and Dorothy De Courcy

(I have no idea what this picture is supposed to represent since there is absolutely no scene in the story like this!)

Unlike Gaul, the north continent of Venus is divided into four parts. No Caesar has set foot here either, nor shall one – for the dank, stinging, caustic air swallows up the lives of men and only Venus may say, I conquered.

Hmm, so not an environmental paradise then, but surely the inhabitants will be advanced, peaceful, artistic? Well, apparently the Africans exploit their quarter, the Asians engage in…

…the bitter game of power politics, secret murder, and misery – most of all, misery.

… and the Martians use their quarter as a penal colony. So it looks as if my last hope rests in the American zone…

The Federated States, after their fashion, plunder the land and send screaming ships to North America laden with booty and with men grown suddenly rich – and with men who will never care for riches or anything else again. These are the fortunate dead.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve selected the right location, but look! There’s a town, built just at the intersection where all four quarters meet! Maybe it will be a perfect spot for tourists…

From the arbitrary point where the four territories met, New Reno flung its sprawling, dirty carcass over the muddy soil and roared and hooted endlessly, laughed with the rough boisterousness of miners and spacemen, rang with the brittle, brassy laughter of women following a trade older than New Reno. It clanged and shouted and bellowed so loudly that quiet sobbing was never heard.

Think I might have a staycation this year after all. Anyway, one day a young waitress, Jane, comes across a little child, sobbing as he sits on the street, apparently abandoned.

….Oh, my!” she breathed, bending over the tiny form. “You poor thing. Where’s your mama?”
….
The little figure rubbed its face, looked at her blankly and heaved a long, shuddering sigh.
….“I can’t leave you sitting here in the mud!” She pulled out a handkerchief and tried to wipe away some of the mud and then helped him up. His clothes were rags, his feet bare.

She takes the child home and feeds him and puts him to bed, but he’s still wide awake, so she begins to tell him a story – the tale of a ship that crashed on an unknown planet…

“The big, beautiful ship was all broken. Well, since they couldn’t fix the ship at all now, they set out on foot to find out where they were and to see if they could get help. Then they found that they were in a land of great big giants, and the people were very fierce…”

(Nope, this scene doesn’t exist either!)

* * * * *

The actual story of this is quite slight and it’s not too hard to work out what the twist at the end is likely to be. But it’s a lovely description of a frontier society, much like the Old West but transplanted to a truly hostile environment where people can’t venture outside without protection from the very air they must breathe. It’s also got a few nicely imaginative touches, like the Martian society as shown by their attitude towards their penal colony, or the way the crash victims set out to survive. It’s very short, but well written and entertaining, and with just enough substance to scrape into the thought-provoking category – thoughts that are not very complimentary to Earthlings, I must admit.

(Bland, but better.)

I read it in Born of the Sun, edited by Mike Ashley – a collection which promises to take me to each of the planets in our solar system, so I haven’t given up all hope of finding my paradise yet. Maybe I’ll visit The Hell Planet next – I hear it’s nice this time of year…

Meantime, if you’d like to read this one, it’s available on Project Gutenberg – here’s a link.

* * * * *

Little Green Men rating: :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:

37 thoughts on “Transwarp Tuesday! Foundling on Venus by John and Dorothy De Courcy

  1. Hmmm…I probably ought to cancel my Airbnb booking on Venus then, right, FictionFan? Doesn’t sound like my sort of place… Still, the story itself does sound good, and I can see how it would draw the reader in. Nice to hear, too, that it doesn’t preach about how rotten people are, or how imminent our destruction is. I don’t mind social commentary – in fact, when it’s done well, I like it. I don’t care for preaching, though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, Venus turned out to be a major disappointment as a holiday destination, but not much worse overall than a week in the rain on the west coast of Scotland… 😉 I liked the Martians in this one – they only got a few sentences, but their society sounded much more advanced than all the pesky humans. I’m booking a charter plane for the Hell Planet – shall I keep you a ticket?

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  2. I read the story after reading your post – the two together made a very pleasant coffee break from an interminable pile of marking, so thank you for that! You are right that it’s not too difficult to guess the ending – but I still didn’t get it (and I actually had to read the last few sentences a couple of times to make sure I was understanding it properly). Lovely story – though, as is almost always the case with science fiction short stories, I found myself wanting more about the worldbuilding! How did we end up with a Venus with those particular dominant forces? It seems like that would also make for a very good story – I wonder if they ever explored this world any further?

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    • Glad you enjoyed it! Sadly, I don’t think they did explore it further – it seems they only wrote a handful of stories and then stopped, for reasons that aren’t known. A pity, because I liked their style in this, and I really wanted to know more about the Martians and their penal colony. I guess science fiction wasn’t a big money spinner back then excpet for the few major stars, so maybe they just had to earn a living in boringly normal jobs or something…

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    • I love older science fiction – the newer stuff sometimes has too much actual science in it for me, but the older stuff is full of imagination. Hope you enjoy this one, if you get a chance to read it. 🙂

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  3. So, not the right locale for a bit of R&R, huh? Well, there are several more spots to choose from, one of which might be your cuppa! But gee, the image of chocolate hanging from trees has me mesmerized!

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  4. The Hell Planet? Are you sure we aren’t already on it?? (just kidding…. I like Earth perfectly fine, warts and all)

    This one is on my wish list, along with a few more BL anthologies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I must admit most of the worlds in science fiction make me quite happy to be an Earthling too! I’m really enjoying this one – as well as the stories, it has little intros for each planet, telling their real history (i.e., what scientists thought about them at various points in time) and also giving lots of examples of other stories set on them. Could be the basis of a challenge… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you FF, I enjoyed reading this other world story that I wouldn’t have come to read without your prompt. It is a slight story but also quite engaging in its description of other peoples and places and its ending twist (a little surprise for me), and, I agree, the implications of what’s described do provoke thought.

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    • It was disappointing, but I haven’t given up hope. I’m booking a charter flight to the Hell Planet next – I’m sure it will be lovely. I’ll save you a seat! 😉

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    • Ha, no, originally there were four Tuesday short story slots, Terror, Transwarp, ‘Tec and Tales, but then I sort of got into horror in a big way! I’m trying to revive the other slots this year…

      Liked by 1 person

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