A Meeting with Medusa

A Meeting with Medusa is a science fiction novella by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. It was originally published in 1971 and has since been included in the anthology Nebula Award Stories Eight as well as several collections of Clarke's writings.

A sequel, The Medusa Chronicles, was published in 2016 as a collaborative effort between Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter.

"A Meeting with Medusa"
AuthorArthur C. Clarke
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inPlayboy
Publication typeMagazine
Publication dateDecember, 1971
Followed by"The Medusa Chronicles"

Plot summary

Taking place partly on Earth and partly in the atmosphere of Jupiter, the story tells of Howard Falcon, the captain of a new and experimental giant-sized helium-filled airship. When an accident causes the ship to crash, Falcon is badly injured and takes over a year to fully recover.

Later, Falcon promotes an expedition to explore the atmosphere of Jupiter. After several years and many trials, the expedition is launched, with Falcon at the controls of the Kon-Tiki, a hot-hydrogen balloon-supported craft that descends through the upper atmosphere of Jupiter.

As the craft descends through the various cloud layers, Falcon discovers that the atmosphere supports at least two large forms of life, as well as microscopic and bioluminescent air plankton, producing atmospheric sea-fire. One form is a giant jellyfish-like creature (the Medusa of the title) about one mile across, and the others are manta ray-like creatures about a hundred yards wide that apparently prey on the Medusa.

The Medusa begins to show an interest in the Kon-Tiki, and for his own and the expedition's safety, Falcon ignites his emergency power and escapes back into the upper atmosphere.

After his return, it is revealed to the reader that, because of the airship accident, much of Falcon's body was replaced by prosthetics, converting him into a cyborg with increased speed and reactions, but leaving him feeling distanced from other humans.


The story was the inspiration for The Medusa Encounter, the fourth novel in the Venus Prime series by Paul Preuss.

The concept of life on Jupiter was explored in the second episode of Carl Sagan's 1980 PBS series Cosmos, which featured lifeforms similar in concept to those in this story.

Clarke himself revisited the notion of giant lifeforms in the atmosphere of Jupiter in his 1982 novel 2010: Odyssey Two.


See also


  • Clarke, Arthur C. The Best of Arthur C. Clarke, 1956 - 1972. Published 1973

External links

Arthur C. Clarke bibliography

The following is a list of works by Arthur C. Clarke.

Behold the Man (novel)

Behold the Man (1969) is a science fiction novel by British writer Michael Moorcock. It originally appeared as a novella in a 1966 issue of New Worlds; later, Moorcock produced an expanded version which was first published in 1969 by Allison & Busby. The title derives from the Gospel of John, Chapter 19, Verse 5: "Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them Behold the Man."

In the novel, Moorcock weaves an existentialist tale about Karl Glogauer, a man who travels from the year 1970 in a time machine to 28 AD, where he hopes to meet the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Enemy Mine (novella)

"Enemy Mine" is a science fiction novella by American writer Barry B. Longyear. It was originally published in the September 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Later, it was collected by Longyear in the 1980 book Manifest Destiny. A longer, novel form was published, based on the film. It also appears in Longyear's anthology The Enemy Papers (1998): this version was labeled as "The Author's cut" and was significantly revised.

Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway is a novella by Seanan McGuire, the first in her "Wayward Children" series. It was first published in hardcover and ebook editions by Tor.com in April, 2016.

Ill Met in Lankhmar

"Ill Met in Lankhmar" is a sword and sorcery novella by American writer Fritz Leiber, recounting the meeting and teaming-up of his adventurous duo, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

First published in 1970 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it is a prequel, as Leiber had by that time been chronicling the pair's adventures for thirty years. The story forms part four of the collection Swords and Deviltry.

It was awarded the 1970 Nebula Award for Best Novella and the 1971 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

Jovian (fiction)

In science fiction, a Jovian is an inhabitant of the planet Jupiter.

More Than One Universe

More Than One Universe: The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke is a collection of science fiction short stories by Arthur C. Clarke originally published in 1991.

The stories originally appeared in the periodicals Playboy, Vogue, Dude, New Worlds, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Dundee Sunday Telegraph, Analog, Amazing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, Infinity Science Fiction, London Evening News, Startling Stories, Venture Science Fiction Magazine, If, Boys' Life, This Week, Bizarre! Mystery Magazine, Escapade, Asimov's Science Fiction, Astounding, King's College Review, Dynamic Science Fiction, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Satellite, Argosy and Ten Story Fantasy as well as the anthologies Star Science Fiction Stories No.1 edited by Frederik Pohl, Time to Come edited by August Derleth, Infinity #2 edited by Robert Hoskins and The Farthest Reaches, edited by Joseph Elder.

Nebula Award for Best Novella

The Nebula Award for Best Novella is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) for science fiction or fantasy novellas. A work of fiction is defined by the organization as a novella if it is between 17,500 and 40,000 words; awards are also given out for pieces of longer lengths in the novel category, and for shorter lengths in the short story and novelette categories. To be eligible for Nebula Award consideration a novella must be published in English in the United States. Works published in English elsewhere in the world are also eligible provided they are released on either a website or in an electronic edition. The Nebula Award for Best Novella has been awarded annually since 1966. Novellas published by themselves are eligible for the novel award instead if the author requests them to be considered as such. The award has been described as one of "the most important of the American science fiction awards" and "the science-fiction and fantasy equivalent" of the Emmy Awards.Nebula Award nominees and winners are chosen by members of the SFWA, though the authors of the nominees do not need to be members. Works are nominated each year between November 15 and February 15 by published authors who are members of the organization, and the six works that receive the most nominations then form the final ballot, with additional nominees possible in the case of ties. Members may then vote on the ballot throughout March, and the final results are presented at the Nebula Awards ceremony in May. Authors are not permitted to nominate their own works, and ties in the final vote are broken, if possible, by the number of nominations the works received. The rules were changed to their current format in 2009. Previously, the eligibility period for nominations was defined as one year after the publication date of the work, which allowed the possibility for works to be nominated in the calendar year after their publication and then be awarded in the calendar year after that. Works were added to a preliminary list for the year if they had ten or more nominations, which were then voted on to create a final ballot, to which the SFWA organizing panel was also allowed to add an additional work.During the 53 nomination years, 171 authors have had works nominated; 49 of these have won, including co-authors and ties. Nancy Kress has won the most awards: four out of eight nominations. Robert Silverberg, John Varley, and Roger Zelazny have each won twice out of eight, two, and three nominations, respectively. Silverberg's and Kress's eight nominations are the most of any authors, followed by Lucius Shepard and Michael Bishop at seven, and Kate Wilhelm and Avram Davidson with six. Bishop has the most nominations without receiving an award for novellas, though Wilhelm and Davidson have also not won an award.


Stardance is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson, published by Dial Press in 1979 as part of its Quantum science fiction line. The novel's opening segment originally appeared in Analog in 1977 as the novella "Stardance", followed by the serialized conclusion, "Stardance II", in Analog in 1978.After the Dial hardcover appeared in 1979, Stardance was reprinted in paperback by Dell Books in 1980, followed by reissues from Tor Books and Baen Books over the next decade. Baen compiled the novel, together with its sequel, Starseed, in a mass market paperback omnibus, The Star Dancers, in 1997; in 2006, Baen published a hardcover omnibus, The Stardance Trilogy, adding a third novel, Starmind.

The Best Science Fiction of the Year 1

The Best Science Fiction of the Year 1 is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Terry Carr, the initial volume in a series of sixteen. It was one of two follow-up volumes to the previous year's World's Best Science Fiction: 1971 edited by Carr in collaboration with Donald A. Wollheim for Ace Books, the other being Wollheim's The 1972 Annual World's Best SF, edited by Wollheim and Arthur W. Saha. The Carr title was first published in paperback as The Best Science Fiction of the Year by Ballantine Books in July 1972. It was reissued by Ballantine in April 1976 as The Best Science Fiction of the Year #1, in keeping with the numerical designations of subsequent volumes in the series.

The book collects eleven novellas, novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, with an introduction by Carr. Most of the stories were previously published in 1971 in the magazines If, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Playboy, and the anthologies Infinity Two, New Dimensions 1, Four Futures, New Worlds Quarterly 2, Universe 1, and Quark/4.

The Best of Arthur C. Clarke

The Best of Arthur C. Clarke: 1937-1971 is a collection of science fiction short stories by British writer Arthur C. Clarke originally published in 1973.

The stories, written between 1937 and 1971 originally appeared in a number of periodicals including Amateur Science Stories, Zenith, The Fantast, Fantasy, Startling Stories, Astounding, Science Fiction Quarterly, 10 Story Fantasy, Infinity Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Evening Standard, Vogue, Analog, If, Boys' Life and Playboy

The Dream Master

The Dream Master (1966), originally published as a novella titled He Who Shapes, is a science fiction novel by American writer Roger Zelazny. Zelazny's originally intended title for it was The Ides of Octember. The novella won a Nebula Award in 1966.

The Last Castle (novella)

The Last Castle is a science fiction novella by American writer Jack Vance. It won both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novella.

The Medusa Chronicles

The Medusa Chronicles is a 2016 science fiction novel by Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, a sequel to Arthur C. Clarke's 1970 novella A Meeting with Medusa. It expands on the premise of Clarke's story, taking the main character into the distant future, while also going into the past to show that both the novel and the original Clarke story are set in an alternative history where in 1968, NASA and the Soviet space program united to prevent an asteroid from impacting Earth.

The Persistence of Vision (short story)

"The Persistence of Vision" is a science fiction novella by American writer John Varley. It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella in 1979. It was included in the anthology of the same name and in The John Varley Reader.

The Secret (short story)

"The Secret" is a science fiction short story by British writer Arthur C. Clarke, first published as "The Secret of the Men on the Moon" in the August 11, 1963 issue of This Week magazine. It was later collected in The Wind from the Sun (1972) as "The Secret".

The Sentinel (anthology)

The Sentinel is a collection of science fiction short stories by Arthur C. Clarke originally published in 1983.

The stories, written between 1946 and 1981, originally appeared in a number of magazines including Astounding, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Thrilling Wonder Stories, 10 Story Fantasy, If, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Boys' Life, Playboy and Omni.

The Wind from the Sun

The Wind from the Sun (ISBN 0-15-196810-1) is a 1972 collection of science fiction short stories by British writer Arthur C. Clarke. Some of the stories originally appeared in a number of different publications. A part of the book was included in CD on board the Planetary Society's solar sail, Cosmos 1.

Venus Prime

Venus Prime is a series of six science fiction novels written by Paul Preuss, based on characters and locations in Arthur C. Clarke's short stories.

The stories involve Sparta, a beautiful and mysterious woman with advanced abilities, the product of advanced biotech engineering. But the memory of the last three years is gone, and Sparta attempts to recover her past, and save her future.

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