Monday, January 9, 2017

The Hidden Planet: Review

Using the last novella I read (Battle on Venus) as a jumping board, I moved on to The Hidden Planet (1959). This is a collection of stories by five authors featuring Earth's sister-planet Venus. Written during a time when we had little information about the planet (the brief introduction details just how little was known), each author gives us a little different vision of what lies beneath the cloud cover of our nearest neighbor. We get stories ranging from the man who made Venus a breeding ground for experiments with people  to the adventurer who went a little too deeply into the depths of Venus's ocean to those who investigated jungles where dangers lurk. As with most short story collections, this is a bit uneven. The best of the bunch are the stories by McIntosh and Weinbaum with Oliver and Brackett a distant second and Del Rey not even even making the race. I just found the story about the bad luck mascot to be annoying. Why not take the thing back where you found it and get yourself back to work so you can have the girl of your dreams? The critter doesn't even sound appealing and would be plenty happy in its swamp....An overall score of ★★ for the entire collection.

"Field Expedient" by Chad Oliver (1954): Tells the story of a childless billionaire who pours all his wealth into creating a colony on the very Earth-like planet. The men of Earth have become very complacent and no longer wish to reach for the stars. Vandervort believes his colony will give mankind back his exploratory vision.

You're never finished with danger. It follows a brave man around.
Maybe, but I'm not a brave man. Never was.
~Virginia Stuart, Warren Blackwell in "Venus Mission"

"Venus Mission" by J. T. McIntosh (1951): A ship is damaged on its way to a city on Venus and crash-lands far from their target. Venus has been hard-won after a war with the "Greys." Little info is given about the Greys except that despite the war being over and a treaty being signed, there are still renegade groups that love nothing more than to capture and torture humans. Will the survivors be able to make it to the nearest settlement?

"The Luck of Ignatz" by Lester Del Rey (1939): What happens when the luckiest man in the universe takes on the unluckiest mascot imaginable? Lots of bad luck for everyone else....and then nobody wants to give him a job or allow him to travel on their rocket ships. So, how's he supposed to rescue the girl he loves?

"The Lotus Eaters" by Stanley G. Weinbaum (1935): Patricia Burlingame, biologist, and her newly-wedded husband Hamilton "Ham" Hammond are asked by the Royal Society and the Smithsonian Institution to investigate the dark side of Venus. While there, they find a species of warm-blooded plants who can move about and share a communal intelligence. The plants reproduce through spores which, when they burst, have an effect on humans that can send them into a comatose state. Will Patricia and Ham escape?

"Terror Out of Space" by Leigh Brackett (1944): Operatives from the Special Branch of the Tri-World Police, Lundy and Smith, have captured an alien who has been wreaking havoc with the males of Venus. Whenever a guy looks at "Her," he abandons whatever he's supposed to be doing and follows Her wherever She leads.  The alien causes men to see the her as the most beautiful woman ever--a dream girl, in fact. Lundy is the only one to survive the encounter and finds himself needing to defend Venus's plant people from Her as well. It turns into a very close call indeed.

No comments: