Saturn in fiction

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Saturn has made appearances in fiction since the 1752 novel Micromégas by Voltaire. In many of these works, the planet is inhabited by aliens that are usually portrayed as being more advanced than humans. The planet is occasionally visited by humans and its rings are sometimes mined for resources. The moons of Saturn have been depicted in a large number of stories, especially Titan with its Earth-like environment suggesting the possibility of colonization by humans and alien lifeforms living there.

Saturn[edit]

For a long time, Saturn was incorrectly believed to be a solid planet capable of hosting life on its surface.[1] The earliest depiction of Saturn in fiction was in the 1752 novel Micromégas by Voltaire, wherein an alien from Sirius visits the planet and meets one of its inhabitants before both travel to Earth.[2][3][4] The inhabitants of Saturn have been portrayed in several different works since then, such as in Humphry Davy's 1830 novel Consolations in Travel and the anonymously published 1873 novel A Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of Paul Aermont among the Planets.[1][3][5] They are occasionally portrayed as warlike yet benevolent, as in the 1935 short story "The Fall of Mercury" by Leslie F. Stone where they aid humanity in a war against Mercury and the 1933 short story "The Men without Shadows" by Stanton A. Coblentz where they come to Earth as conquerors in order to turn it into a utopia.[1][6] In other works, they are evil, such as in Clifton B. Kruse's 1935 short story "Menace from Saturn" and its 1936 sequel "The Drums".[1] In the 1890 novel The Auroraphone by Cyrus Cole Saturnians face a robot uprising, and in the 1900 novel The Kite Trust by Lebbeus H. Rogers they built the Egyptian pyramids.[1][4][7] Saturnians are typically depicted as more advanced than the people of Earth,[1] including in the 1886 novel A Romance of Two Worlds by Marie Corelli and the 1894 novel A Journey in Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV; in both of these stories they resolve theological questions.[3][4][8] Exceptions to this general trend include the 1886 novel Aleriel, or A Voyage to Other Worlds by W. S. Lach-Szyrma where the planet's ecosphere is dominated by fungi and invertebrates and the 1901 novel A Honeymoon in Space by George Griffith where it is populated by seaweed, reptiles, and primitive humanoids.[4][9] Once it was established that Saturn is a gaseous planet, most works depicting such an environment were instead set on Jupiter,[1] though there are some exceptions; for instance, aliens are depicted as living in Saturn's atmosphere in the 1997 novel Saturn Rukh by Robert L. Forward.[2]

The first crewed voyage to Saturn by humans is depicted in the 1941 short story "Man of the Stars" by Sam Moskowitz,[1] and the planet is visited by means of a recovered alien spacecraft in the 1968 film The Bamboo Saucer.[3][10] Humans live in floating cities in the atmosphere in the 1991 novel The Clouds of Saturn by Michael McCollum.[2] The rings of Saturn are mined for resources in several works; they are a source of ice in Isaac Asimov's 1952 short story "The Martian Way" and the 1981 short story "The Iceworm Special" by Joe Martino, and provide raw material for a weapon in the 1935 short story "Menace from Saturn" by Clifton B. Kruse. One of the rings is painted red by a religious group in the 1977 short story "Equinoctial" by John Varley.[3][4] The planet has been featured in several comic books; the DC hero Jemm is from Saturn, and the evil Kronans in Marvel's Thor comics have a base there.[1]

Moons[edit]

Saturn's moons, especially Titan, have generally received more attention from writers than the planet itself.[1][3][4]

Titan[edit]

As a comparatively Earth-like world, Titan has attracted attention from writers as a place that could be colonized by humans and inhabited by extraterrestrial life.[4] The colonization of Titan is depicted in the 1954 novel Trouble on Titan by Alan E. Nourse,[2][3][4] the 1961 short story "Saturn Rising" by Arthur C. Clarke depicts efforts to attract tourists to the moon,[1][4] and the 1975 novel Imperial Earth by Clarke portrays a clone who lives on a Titan colony and journeys to Earth.[1][3][11] The 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut is a satire wherein humans are manipulated into journeying to Titan to aid a Tralfamadorian stranded there,[1][12][13] and the moon is inhabited by an alien lifeform who travelled to the Solar System to communicate with the Sun in the 1977 novel If the Stars are Gods by Gregory Benford and Gordon Eklund.[3][4][14] A voyage to Titan is portrayed in the 1997 novel Titan by Stephen Baxter.[2][3]

Other moons[edit]

Tethys is inhabited by intelligent life in the 1934 short story "A Matter of Size" by Harry Bates.[1] Rhea is colonized by humans in the 1956 novel The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.[3] The 1954 novel The Secret of Saturn's Rings by Donald A. Wollheim and the 1958 novel Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn by Isaac Asimov are both set partially on Mimas.[1] Iapetus is the site of an alien artefact in Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and a voyage to the moon is depicted in Poul Anderson's 1981 short story "The Saturn Game".[1][3] Following the discovery of liquid water beneath the surface of Enceladus, the moon featured in the 2016 short story "The Water Walls of Enceladus" by Mercurio D. Rivera.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Westfahl, Gary (2021-07-19). "Saturn". Science Fiction Literature through History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 553–555. ISBN 978-1-4408-6617-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e McKinney, Richard L. (2005). "Jupiter and the Outer Planets". In Westfahl, Gary (ed.). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 449. ISBN 978-0-313-32951-7. The earliest fiction featuring Saturn is probably Voltaire's Micromégas (1750). Much later, Saturn is central in Poul Anderson's "The Saturn Game" (1981) and Michael A. McCollum's The Clouds of Saturn (1991), where human cities float in Saturn's atmosphere. The planet's atmosphere is also the home of the two-brained, four-kilometer-wide creatures of Robert F. Forward's Saturn Rukh (1997). Saturn's largest satellite, Titan—interesting because of its thick atmosphere—is colonized in Alan E Nourse's 1954 juvenile novel, Trouble on Titan, while Stephen Baxter's Titan (1997) is about a space mission to the satellite.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). "Outer Planets". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2021-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stableford, Brian M. (2006). "Saturn". Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. pp. 458–459. ISBN 978-0-415-97460-8.
  5. ^ Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). "Aermont, Paul". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2021-12-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Westfahl, Gary (2021-07-19). "Mercury". Science Fiction Literature through History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 442–444. ISBN 978-1-4408-6617-3.
  7. ^ Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). "Cole, Cyrus". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2021-12-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). "Astor, John Jacob". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2021-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Darling, David. "Griffith, George (1857-1906)". Encyclopedia of Science. Retrieved 2021-12-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). "Bamboo Saucer, The". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2021-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Samuelson, David N.; Westfahl, Gary (1999). "Sir Arthur C. Clarke". In Bleiler, Richard (ed.). Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day (2nd ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 209. ISBN 0-684-80593-6. OCLC 40460120.
  12. ^ Clute, John; Langford, David; Sleight, Graham (eds.). "Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4th ed.). Retrieved 2021-12-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Elkins, Charles L. (1999). "Kurt Vonnegut". In Bleiler, Richard (ed.). Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day (2nd ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 855–856. ISBN 0-684-80593-6. OCLC 40460120.
  14. ^ Stableford, Brian (1999). "Gregory Benford". In Bleiler, Richard (ed.). Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day (2nd ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-684-80593-6. OCLC 40460120.