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Solar System

Entry updated 1 May 2023. Tagged: Theme.

This encyclopedia deals with sf about our Solar System under the following headwords, moving conventionally outward from the Sun (see also Stars for a more general treatment of suns). There are individual entries for Mercury, Venus, the Moon but not the Earth itself – though certain aspects are discussed under Gaia, Islands, Underground and Under the SeaMars, the Asteroids, Jupiter, the Outer Planets (comprising Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, the now-demoted Pluto, assorted moons and the frequently imagined "tenth planet", often a subject of real-world speculation) and Comets. Rather more speculative are Vulcan, once imagined as located within the orbit of Mercury, and the orbitally impossible Counter-Earth, supposedly sharing Earth's orbit but always remaining hidden on the far side of the Sun.

A "Grand Tour" travelogue of the Solar System can provide a ready-made structure for an sf novel or series, the classic Proto SF example being Athanasius Kircher's Itinerarium Exstaticum sequence beginning with Itinerarium Exstaticum ["The Ecstatic Journey"] (1656 Rome; rev vt 1660). More in the true sf or Scientific Romance vein is George Griffith's A Honeymoon in Space (January-July 1900 Pearson's as "Stories of Other Worlds"; exp 1901), whose Fantastic Voyage takes in the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter's moon Ganymede, and so on beyond to the outer planets. Robert A Heinlein's thematically linked Children's SF sequence beginning with Rocket Ship Galileo (1947) methodically traverses the planets; The Rolling Stones (1952) itself comprises a partial tour of the Solar System. Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr Children's SF sequence opens with adventure on Mars in David Starr, Space Ranger (1952 as by Paul French; vt Space Ranger 1973); subsequent novels' settings are the asteroids, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. Ben Bova's larger Future History Tales of the Grand Tour, opening with Welcome to Moonbase (1987), similarly traverses the available venues, with some revisited in multiple novels. A classic Grand Tour forms the backbone of Kim Stanley Robinson's The Memory of Whiteness (1985); a smaller version features in his 2312 (2012). [DRL]

see also: Lagrange Point; Living Worlds.

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