Tidal Moon

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"Tidal Moon"
Author Stanley G. Weinbaum and Helen Weinbaum
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s) Science fiction
Published in Thrilling Wonder Stories
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Thrilling Publications
Media typePrint (Magazine)
Publication dateDecember 1938

"Tidal Moon" is a science fiction short story by American writer Stanley G. Weinbaum and Helen Weinbaum that first appeared in the December 1938 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories and was reprinted in the collection Interplanetary Odysseys (2006). Sam Moskowitz stated that Stanley G. Weinbaum completed only a page and a half of the story before his death and that his sister Helen Weinbaum completed the story on her own. [1] "Tidal Moon" is the only story by Weinbaum to take place on Ganymede.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

Short story work of literature, usually written in narrative prose

A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood, however there are many exceptions to this.

Stanley G. Weinbaum US writer

Stanley Grauman Weinbaum was an American science fiction writer. His first story, "A Martian Odyssey", was published to great acclaim in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year and a half later.

Contents

Weinbaum's Ganymede

In Weinbaum's Solar System, Jupiter radiates enough heat to create Earthlike environments on the Galilean moons. Ganymede, the third Galilean satellite, has a subarctic climate, large bodies of water, and a six-month rotation period. Due to Jupiter's tidal pull, every spot on Ganymede's surface is inundated with water every three months except a small area of the south pole where the human settlement of Hydropole is located. The Ganymedian natives, the Nympus, grow a mosslike plant called cree which is ordinarily red, but which turns blue when exposed to the ammonia in Ganymede's atmosphere. The blue moss is collected by human traders in the employ of Cree, Inc. who travel among the native villages on an aquatic riding animal called a hipp (short for Hippocampus catamiti); it is then shipped to Earth to produce crephine, a combined anaesthetic and medicine. Other Ganymedian life-forms include the whale-like Gamma Rorqual, the tentacled land leet, and the four-winged Blanket Bat.

Solar System Planetary system of the Sun

The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of the objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest are the eight planets, with the remainder being smaller objects, such as the five dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly—the moons—two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.

Jupiter Fifth planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. Jupiter has been known to astronomers since antiquity. It is named after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can be bright enough for its reflected light to cast shadows, and is on average the third-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus.

Galilean moons four moons of Jupiter

The Galilean moons are the four largest moons of Jupiter—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They were first seen by Galileo Galilei in December 1609 or January 1610, and recognized by him as satellites of Jupiter in March 1610. They were the first objects found to orbit another planet.

Plot summary

Ben Amherst is a cree collector on Ganymede in the year 2083. Although he normally operates alone, he finds himself accompanied on one of his rounds by a tourist from Earth named Kirt Scaler. Scaler plans to travel with Amherst to the village of Aquia, then remain there for two months while Amherst continues on his rounds. Amherst finds Scaler strangely knowledgeable about conditions on Ganymede for someone who claims never to have left Earth before.

Reaching Aquia, Amherst and Scaler find that its chief trader, Carl Kent, has gone missing; his teenage daughter Carol is carrying on in his place. Kent's disappearance is ominous since he has only recently worked out a process for distilling crephine from red moss. While Aquia is drowned in the flood, Scaler spends most of his time with Carol Kent.

A day and a half before the tide is due to ebb away from Aquia, Carol Kent discovers that her father's notes on his red moss distillation process are missing. Amherst remembers a rumour he heard that red moss has been discovered on Io; Scaler, he realizes, must be working for Ionian Products, a company seeking to break Cree, Inc.'s crephine monopoly. If they succeed, it will mean hard times for everyone on Ganymede. Aquia is searched for Scaler, to no avail. Suddenly one of the valves leading to the surface opens; Scaler is using it to escape Aquia with Carl Kent's notes. Amherst sends Kent to get him a vacuum suit; when she returns with it, she is wearing one herself. He tells her to remain in the settlement, but she ignores his order and follows him up the aqueduct.

Io (moon) Innermost of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter

Io is the innermost of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter. It is the fourth-largest moon in the solar system, has the highest density of all of them, and has the least amount of water molecules of any known astronomical object in the Solar System. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and was named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera who became one of Zeus' lovers.

On the still-half-flooded surface of Ganymede, there is no sign of Scaler, but Amherst and Kent see a rocket ship in the sky, coloured Ionian red. As the rocket nears the muddy ground, it lowers a ladder, then disappears behind a hill. When it reappears, a man is clinging to the ladder. It is Scaler, and Carl Kent's process is on its way to Io.

As they return to Aquia, Carol Kent tells Amherst about her father's process, which involves exposing red moss to ammonia and treating it with an extract from the eggs of Ganymedian gall-ants. Amherst is overjoyed: Ionian Products might have the process, but they don't have the gall-ants, and gall-ants can only breed on Ganymede. Carl Kent's notes will be worthless to the Ionians.

Footnotes

  1. In the introduction to A Martian Odyssey and Other Science Fiction Tales, introduction by Sam Moskowitz, Hyperion, 1974, ISBN   0-88355-152-7.

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