Earthman Carson Napier had found his share of adventure on the cloud-shrouded planet of Venus. He had rescued his beloved Princess Duare from one peril after another. But when Carson finally restored Duare to her home in the lofty kingdom of Vepaja, she was sentenced to death for daring to love a lesser mortal! Once again, Carson rescued the Princess, snatching her from her own father’s palace in an airship of his own devising.
The two outlaws searched the misty skies of Aptor for a refuge, but found only trouble. From the country of the amphibian people to Voo-ad, the city of human amoebae, they faced dangers beyond imagining.
335 pages with a reading time of ~5.25 hours (83763 words), and first published in 1946. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2018.
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If you will look at any good map of Venus you will see that the land mass called Anlap lies northwest of the island of Vepaja, from which Duare and I had just escaped. On Anlap lies Korva, the friendly country toward which I pointed the nose of our plane.
Of course there is no good map of Venus, at least none that I ever have seen; because the scientists of the southern hemisphere of the planet, the hemisphere to which Chance carried my rocket ship, have an erroneous conception of the shape of their world. They believe that Amtor, as they call it, is shaped like a saucer and floats upon a sea of molten rock. This seems quite evident to them, for how else might the spewing of lava from the craters of volcanoes be explained?
They also believe that Karbol (Cold Country) lies at the periphery of their saucer; whereas it is, as a matter of fact, the Antarctic region surrounding the south pole of Venus. You may readily perceive how this distorts their conception of actual conditions and is reflected in maps, which are, to say the least, weird. Where actually the parallels of longitude converge toward the pole, their conception would be that they converged toward the Equator, or the center of their saucer, and that they were farthest apart at the periphery of the saucer.
It is all very confusing to one who wishes to go places on the surface of Amtor and must depend upon an Amtorian map, and it seems quite silly; but then one must bear in mind the fact that these people have never seen the heavens; because of the cloud envelopes which enshroud the planet. They have never seen the Sun, nor the planets, nor all the other countless suns which star the skies by night. How then might they know anything of astronomy or even guess that they lived upon a globe rather than in a saucer? If you think that they are stupid, just bear in mind that man inhabited the Earth for countless ages before it occurred to anyone that the Earth was a globe; and that within recent historic times men were subjected to the Inquisition, broken on the rack, drawn and quartered, burned at the stake for holding to any such iniquitous theory. Even today there is a religious sect in Illinois which maintains that the Earth is flat. And all this in the face of the fact that we have been able to see and study the Heavens every clear night since our earliest ancestor hung by his tail in some primordial forest. What sort of astronomical theories do you suppose we would hold if we had never seen the Moon, the Sun, nor any of the Planets and myriad stars and could not know that they existed?
However erroneous the theory upon which the cartographers evolved their maps, mine were not entirely useless; though they required considerable mental mathematical gymnastics to translate them into usable information, even without the aid of the theory of the relativity of distance, expounded by the great Amtorian scientist, Klufar, some three thousand years ago, which demonstrates that the actual and the apparent measurements of distance can be reconciled by multiplying each by the square root of minus one!
So, having a compass, I flew a little north of west with reasonable assurance that I should eventually raise Anlap and Korva. But how could I foresee that a catastrophic meteorological phenomenon was soon to threaten us with immediate extinction and literally hurl us into a series of situations as potentially lethal as that from which we had fled on Vepaja?
Duare had been very quiet since we had taken off. I could understand why, and I could sympathize with her. Her own people, whom she loved, and her father, whom she worshipped not only as her father but as her jong, had condemned her to death because she had mated with the man she loved. They all deplored the stern law of the dynasty as much as she, but it was an inexorable commandment that not even the jong himself might evade.
I knew what she was thinking; and I laid my hand on hers, comfortingly. “They will be relieved when morning comes and they discover that you have escaped—they will be relieved and happy.”
“I know it,” she said.
“Then do not be sad, dear.”
“I love my people; I love my country; but I may never return to them. That is why I am sad, but I cannot be sad for long; because I have you, and I love you more than I love my people or my country—may my ancestors forgive me it.”
I pressed her hand. We were silent again for a long time. The Eastern horizon was lighting faintly. A new day was breaking on Venus. I thought of my friends on Earth, and wondered what they were doing and if they ever thought of me. Thirty million miles is a great distance, but thought travels it instantaneously. I like to think that in the next life vision and thought will travel hand in hand.
“What are you thinking?” asked Duare.
I told her.
“You must be very lonely sometimes, so far from your own world and your friends,” she said.