Solar System in fiction

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The Solar System and its various bodies (planets, asteroids, moons, etc.) were the earliest objects to be treated as fictional locations in works of science fiction. Among these, imaginary voyages to and explorations of Earth's Moon are found in seventeenth century literature. By the early twentieth century, following the increase in scientific and technological development spurred by the Industrial Revolution, fictional journeys to (or from) the Solar System's other planets had become common in fiction.

Early literature regarding the Solar System, following scientific speculations dating back to the 17th century, assumed that every planet hosted its own native life forms—often assumed to be human in form, if not in attitudes. Later literature began to accept that there were limits set by temperature, gravity, atmospheric pressure and composition, or the presence of liquids that would set bounds on the possibility of life as we know it existing on other planets. By the 19th century the Moon was given up as an airless desert, incapable of supporting life on its surface (hopes for subsurface life continued until later). Jupiter and the planets beyond were too large, too cold, and had atmospheres composed of poisonous chemicals. Mercury was too close to the Sun and its surface was exposed to extremes of temperature. The asteroids were too tiny and airless. By the early 20th century, prospects for life in the Solar System focused on Venus, the larger moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and especially Mars.

With the onset of the Space Age, planetary probes cast increasing doubt on the likelihood of extraterrestrial life in the Solar System, at least life of any magnitude greater than organisms such as bacteria. By the mid-1960s, it was firmly established that life could have no foothold on the hostile surfaces of Mercury or Venus, and that Mars could hardly support any macroscopic life forms on its surface, much less an advanced civilization. In the 1980s it was shown that the surfaces of Jupiter's moons were just as hostile to life. More recent fiction focused on the Solar System has thus tended to address its exploration for purposes such as terraforming, the engineering of planets for human habitation, than the possibility of any existing life.

Specific articles[edit]

Most of the major bodies of the Solar System have articles concerning their use as settings for fiction:

Works[edit]

The following works or series use multiple planets and other locations within the Solar System as their primary settings:

Novels and series[edit]

Adult[edit]

Name Dates Author
A Honeymoon in Space 1901 George Griffith
Northwest Smith 1933–1936 C. L. Moore
Planetary series 1934–1936 Stanley G. Weinbaum
Space Trilogy 1938–1943 C. S. Lewis
Spacehounds of IPC 1947 E. E. Smith
Captain Future 1940–1951 Edmond Hamilton
Leigh Brackett Solar System 1940–1964 Leigh Brackett
Space Odyssey 1948–1997 Arthur C. Clarke
The Rama Series 1972–1993 Arthur C. Clarke
Eight Worlds 1974–1985 John Varley
Shaper/Mechanist 1982–1985 Bruce Sterling
Grand Tour 1993–present Ben Bova

Juvenile[edit]

Name Date Author
Heinlein juveniles (first six) 1947–1952 Robert A. Heinlein
Lucky Starr series 1952–1958 Isaac Asimov
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet series 1952–1956 Cary Rockwell (pseud.)
Dig Allen Space Explorer series 1959–1962 Joseph Greene

Comics and animation[edit]

  • The Dan Dare comics series (first five stories, 1950–1955)
  • The Cowboy Bebop comics, animated television series and film (1998–2001) by Hajime Yatate
  • The Exosquad animated television series (1993–1995)

Film, radio and television[edit]

Games[edit]

Name Date Developer
Triplanetary 1973 Game Designers' Workshop
Buck Rogers XXVC 1988 TSR, Inc.
Space: 1889 1988 Game Designers' Workshop
Jovian Chronicles 1992 Dream Pod 9
Mutant Chronicles 1993 Target Games
GURPS Terradyne campaign 1995 Steve Jackson Games
Transhuman Space 2002 Steve Jackson Games
Rocketmen 2005 Wizkids
Eclipse Phase 2009 Catalyst Game Labs

References[edit]