Farewell Fantastic Venus

Farewell Fantastic Venus is a science fiction anthology edited by Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison. It was first published in 1968 as a direct response to the information returned from the first space probes sent to Venus, especially the first atmospheric probe to return data, Venera 4. The first data was not returned from the surface until Venera 7 successfully landed in 1970.

The book contains stories and novel excerpts from the time before Venus' true nature became apparent, when the clouded planet could still be imagined as another Earth, albeit a hotter one. From that point on, few stories would be written which did not recognize Venus as a dry lifeless world with acid clouds and a temperature high enough to melt lead. Writers such as Larry Niven (author of "Becalmed in Hell") did write about the "new" Venus, but there were to be few more transplanted jungle adventures, imagined world of oceans with monsters, or Venusians. Venus had been the best hope for extraterrestrial life, and now that hope was lost.

Later, however, writers avoided this apparent impasse through using hard science fiction premises for future terraforming of Venus, or resorted to alternate world science fiction, where Venus had either been terraformed by aliens in the distant past to provide an earth-like biosphere, or had undergone different processes of planetary formation to arrive at an inhabitable alternative. Alternatively, science fantasy authors deliberately overlooked recent discoveries in favor of a setting they loved.

The authors whose stories were included ranged from C.S. Lewis (excerpt from Perelandra) to Edgar Rice Burroughs (excerpt from Pirates of Venus) and from Olaf Stapledon (excerpt from Last and First Men) to Poul Anderson (The Big Rain, Sister Planet). Essays and meditations from a variety of scientists and SF writers were also included in the collection.

First edition.


Texts in the book include:

Short fiction

Excerpts from longer fiction


  • The Story of the Heavens (1882) by Sir Robert Ball
  • The Destinies of the Stars (1917) by Svante Arrhenius
  • The Man from Venus (1939) by Frank R. Paul
  • Unveiling the Mystery Planet (1955) by Willy Ley
  • Exploring the Planets (1964) by V. A. Firsoff
  • Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966) by Carl Sagan
  • Some Mysteries of Venus Resolved (1967) by Sir Bernard Lovell
  • Dream of Distance (1967)
  • Venus Mystery for Scientists (1967) by John Davy
  • Scientist Says Icecaps on Venus Would Make Life Possible (1968) by Evert Clark
  • Foreword / Clouded Judgements / Never-Fading Flowers / Swamp and Sand / "Venus is Hell!" / Big Sister / The Open Question (all 1968) essays by Brian W. Aldiss

External links

Brian Aldiss

Brian Wilson Aldiss, OBE (; 18 August 1925 – 19 August 2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for science fiction novels and short stories. His byline reads either Brian W. Aldiss or simply Brian Aldiss, except for occasional pseudonyms during the mid-1960s.

Greatly influenced by science fiction pioneer H. G. Wells, Aldiss was a vice-president of the international H. G. Wells Society. He was (with Harry Harrison) co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. Aldiss was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2000 and inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2004. He received two Hugo Awards, one Nebula Award, and one John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He wrote the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" (1969), the basis for the Stanley Kubrick-developed Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). Aldiss was associated with the British New Wave of science fiction.

Harry Harrison (writer)

Harry Max Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey; March 12, 1925 – August 15, 2012) was an American science fiction author, known for his character The Stainless Steel Rat and for his novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966). The latter was the rough basis for the motion picture Soylent Green (1973). Harrison was (with Brian Aldiss) the co-president of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group.

Aldiss called him "a constant peer and great family friend". His friend Michael Carroll said, "Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and picture them as science-fiction novels. They're rip-roaring adventures, but they're stories with a lot of heart." Novelist Christopher Priest wrote in an obituary,

Harrison was an extremely popular figure in the SF world, renowned for being amiable, outspoken and endlessly amusing. His quickfire, machine-gun delivery of words was a delight to hear, and a reward to unravel: he was funny and self-aware, he enjoyed reporting the follies of others, he distrusted generals, prime ministers and tax officials with sardonic and cruel wit, and above all he made plain his acute intelligence and astonishing range of moral, ethical and literary sensibilities.

List of Horizon episodes

Horizon is a current and long-running BBC popular science and philosophy documentary

programme. Series one was broadcast in 1964 and as of August 2018 is in its 54th series. Over 1200 episodes have been broadcast (including specials) with an average of 24 episodes per series during the 54-year run.

1964–1969 – 135 episodes

1970–1979 – 299 episodes

1980–1989 – 234 episodes

1990–1999 – 220 episodes

2000–2009 – 193 episodes

Since 2010 – 126 episodes

Venus in fiction

Fictional representations of the planet Venus have existed since the 19th century. Its impenetrable cloud cover gave science fiction writers free rein to speculate on conditions at its surface; all the more so when early observations showed that not only was it very similar in size to Earth, it possessed a substantial atmosphere. Closer to the Sun than Earth, the planet was frequently depicted as warmer, but still habitable by humans. The genre reached its peak between the 1930s and 1950s, at a time when science had revealed some aspects of Venus, but not yet the harsh reality of its surface conditions.

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