[[quoteright:312:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/vp_vol_1_2645.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:312:Her code name is Sparta...]]

->''"Does the word Sparta mean anything to you?"''
-->-- Opening line

'''''Venus Prime''''' is a series of six science fiction novels written by Paul Preuss and Sir Creator/ArthurCClarke. Each novel is based on a different story by Clarke, and all together, they tell the story of Sparta, a young woman granted extraordinary abilities by the evil Free Spirit, a cult seeking to turn her into a messiah. Along the way, she solves mysteries for the Board of Space Control, an interplanetary bureaucracy.

Originally published in 1999, the series has fallen into obscurity thanks to its original publisher going under in 2006.

!!This series provides examples of:

* AffablyEvil: Editions Lequeu (who is actually [[spoiler:William Laird]]), the head of the Athanasian Society. Holly Singh might also qualify.
* ActionGirl: Sparta, in spades.
* AlienGeometries: The interior of the Amalthean world-ship is described as being made up of nested spiral shells. The diagrams at the back of the last book don't help to make it any easier to comprehend.
* AmbiguousEnding: At the end of the last book, [[spoiler:Sparta and Blake go off in the world-ship, never to be seen again by the other characters]].
* AmoralAttorney: The lawyers at Vox Populi.
* AncientConspiracy: The Free Spirit's been around since the 13th century.
* ArrangedMarriage: Khalid Sayeed is supposed to marry a girl back in his native Egypt. But since she's still underage, he's not in any hurry to walk down the aisle with her.
* AsianRudeness: Luke Lim ''deliberately'' pulls this trope just to fuck with the white people with whom he's constantly forced to deal.
* AsianSpeekeeEngrish: Played with in the fifth book. Blake disguises himself as an Asian (which isn't that improbable, because his mother is Chinese) and tries to get a meeting with Luke Lim, a banker on Ganymede. Lim sees through the ruse and tries to ward Blake off by pretending to speak Engrish. Blake isn't fooled by this.
* AssholeVictim: Dr. Dewdney Moreland in the third book. Capt. [[spoiler:Peter Grant]] and [[spoiler:Vincent Darlington]] from the first book might also qualify.
* TheAtoner: After becoming notorious for killing his co-captain in the first book and barely avoiding a long sentence in prison for it (it could be argued that he was acting in self-defense, because his co-captain was AxCrazy), [[spoiler:Angus [=McNeill=]]] becomes adamant about not leaving any of his teammates behind during Forster's expedition.
* BattleCouple: Sparta and Blake.
* BigBad: [[spoiler:Nemo, also known as William Laird, Editions Lequeu, and Sir Randolph Mays]].
* BinarySuns: The last two books reveal that the "Nemesis theory" is correct. The Sun has a companion star in the form of a black hole. The world-ship uses it to jump back in time.
* TheChick: Marianne Mitchell. While she's not completely useless, she spends much of the last book sulking over being stuck with Forster's expedition.
* ClarkesThirdLaw: Referenced, though not named, in the fifth book.
* ColdEquation: Comes up several times in this series.
** The first book is an expansion of Clarke's classic short story ''Breaking Strain'', in which two men are stuck on a damaged ship and only one of them can survive the voyage. In this version, [[spoiler:[=McNeill=] survives by forcing Grant into a rigged card game to determine who gets to live]].
** In the fifth book, [=McNeill=] is again forced into a cold equation when he must decide whether to leave Nemo to die in orbit around Jupiter or use up the fuel in his jetpack to rescue the bastard. All the while, Nemo taunts him, pointing out how similar this is to the Star Queen incident. [[spoiler:Luckily, the world-ship intervenes, rescuing him, Nemo, and Tony Groves]].
** In the sixth book, [[spoiler:Marianne suddenly goes into labor in the middle of the sudden collapse of Mars, and the team wrestles with whether to focus their energies on her or attempt to rescue Tony Groves]].
* TheConspiracy: Free Spirit. Possibly also [[spoiler:Salamander]].
* ContemptibleCover: Mostly averted, although the cover artist couldn't resist making Sparta's spacesuits form-fitting. They're supposed to be rather bulky.
* CoolPlane: The Marsplane from the third book.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Dimitrios Pavlakis, [[spoiler:who is found to be responsible for the sabotage of the ''Star Queen''; the company was failing under his mismanagement, and he intended to collect on the ship's disaster insurance to recoup his losses]].
* CyanidePill: A few of the Free Spirit's operatives get captured in the second book. They decide to take this method rather than risk getting interrogated.
* DarkSkinnedRedhead: Josepha Walsh, as a result of her mixed Carribean-European heritage.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters: The prologue of the third book takes follows Dare Chin, the harried assistant mayor of Labyrinth City, a settlement on Mars, as he deals with paperwork, his irritable girlfriend, and the asshole in the lobby who insists on "studying" the Martian plague. By the end of the prologue, Chin is dead.
* TheDitz: Nancybeth Mokoroa.
* DoNotCallMePaul: Sparta's spent a lot of time and effort creating her identity as "Ellen Troy", so of course she doesn't appreciate it when Blake shows up and starts calling her by her birth name, Linda.
* EmptyShell: [[spoiler:Kara Antreen]] at the end of the first book.
* EvilRedhead: The Orange Man.
* FairCop: Ellen Troy, aka Sparta.
* FanGirl: Marianne Mitchell is a huge fan of Sir Randolph Mays, and thus he decides to hire her to be his assistant.
* FantasticReligiousWeirdness: Khalid Sayeed is a devout Shiite Muslim who happens to live on Mars, which might make it difficult to pray facing Mecca since Mecca is on an entirely different planet. He compensates by using a specially-designed astrolabe to calculate the present direction of Mecca relative to his current location on Mars.
* FemaleGaze: In the last book, Sparta spends some time admiring Blake's naked body as he recovers from the gill-implantation surgery.
* FireForgedFriends: The members of Forster's expedition group become very close-knit after all the shit they go through in the last two books.
* FirstEpisodeResurrection: Of a sort. The first book opens with Sparta locked up in a mental hospital, unable to remember anything. Her doctor finally decides to restore her memory.
* TheFundamentalist: The ''prophetae'' of the Free Spirit.
* GentlemanAndAScholar: Khalid Sayeed.
* GloriousMotherRussia: Yevgeny Rostov.
* AGodAmI: In the last book, Sparta, Blake, Forster, and Nemo travel through time, impersonating gods in an effort to influence human history so that it develops more or less as it was supposed to.
* GoMadFromTheIsolation: In the first book, Sparta is described as struggling to avoid crying herself to sleep during the years that she spends training to become a Space Board Inspector, because she's horribly lonely but also afraid that socializing might cause her to expose something about her past. In the fourth book, she suffers a nervous breakdown after a combination of prolonged isolation from others and a steadily-worsening drug habit.
* GoldDigger: Nancybeth Mokoroa probably qualifies.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: Since the novels are based on old short stories from back when the Soviet Union was still around, it's implied in the early books that Russia is either still Communist or has reverted to Communism.
** The last book, written in 2001, clarifies that the Soviet Union ''is'' still around, but the second "S" in "U.S.S.R." stands for something else, and apparently, there are still a lot of die-hards who want to return to the days of Communism. The openly-Communist Mars colony seen in the third book was apparently an attempt to keep that faction happy by giving them their own planet.
* GreyAndBlackMorality: While the Free Spirit is pretty unambiguously evil, it's not entirely clear that the Council of Worlds or Salamander are much better.
* TheGrotesque:
** The Commander's hands and face are unnaturally dark, the result of years of travelling in space and getting soaked in ultraviolet radiation.
** After altering herself so that she can thrive on Amalthea, Sparta looks and acts increasingly less human.
* TheHedonist: The series has several - Angus [=McNeil=] is probably the biggest, with Vincent Darlington and Wolfgang Prott not far behind.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: [[spoiler:Sparta]] in the fourth book. The Commander might also qualify.
* HollywoodHacking: Done extremely weirdly in this series. Sparta is able to hack computer systems using electronic spines underneath her fingernails. These pick up electronic signals from whatever she's hacking, which are relayed to the sensory areas of her brain, which translate the data into sights and smells. She can also send commands through the spines.
* HufflepuffHouse: The Latin-African bloc. It's mentioned in the first book, but plays no real role in the series.
* IceQueen: Sondra Sylvester.
* ImAHumanitarian: Cannibalism is one of the Free Spirit's traditions.
* InCaseYouForgotWhoWroteIt: Sir Arthur C. Clarke's name is prominently featured on the cover of every book.
* InscrutableOriental: Subverted with Luke Lim, who tends to react in an exaggerated manner. Of course, whether or not his expressions correspond to what he actually feels is left highly ambiguous.
* InnocentFanserviceGirl: Towards the end of the series, Sparta and Blake stop wearing clothes, having been physically altered to the point where they no longer need them. Some of her human companions find this unnerving.
* JerkAss: Sharansky. She deliberately sabotages Blake's efforts on Mars for no other reason than the fact that she was sent to pick him up when he was dropped off on the planet and thus had to see him naked.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: [[spoiler:Sparta's brutal murder of Stig, the brain-damaged superchimp. On the one hand, he was severely brain-damaged and for all we know, he just thought he was protecting his beloved mistress. On the other hand, he was fully prepared to kill Sparta]].
* KnightTemplar: The Free Spirit is full of them.
* LaserGuidedKarma:
** At the end of the first book, [[spoiler:Kara Antreen's attempt to inject Sparta with a drug that would wipe out her memory again results in Sparta accidently pushing the syringe back on ''her''. She ends up losing her own memory, instead]].
** After cheating his way out of a cold equation in the first book, [[spoiler:Angus]] gets confronted by more cold equations as the series goes on.
* MacGuffin: The Martian plaque in the third book. The first book has a subversion in the form of the first-edition ''Seven Pillars of Wisdom'' - Sondra and Vincent are fighting over it, but it turns out to be incidental to the sabotage of the ''Space Queen''.
* TheManInTheMirrorTalksBack: A weird variation occurs in the fifth book, with Sparta conversing with a virtual therapist who takes the form of her nineteen-year-old self.
* MindManipulation: The Free Spirit does it. So does [[spoiler:Salamander]].
* MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome: Subverted in the fifth book with Marianne Mitchell. When she goes missing on Amalthea, the Space Board makes no effort to find her, because the Jovian moons are already a hotbed of separatist activity and they're afraid that sending a Space Board cutter out there to track down a missing white girl might start a riot on Ganymede.
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: [[spoiler:William Laird's attempts to consolidate power over the Free Spirit make it a hell of a lot easier for Sparta to seriously injure the whole organization]].
* NoCommunitiesWereHarmed: Josepha Walsh's nationality is never specifically given, although she's said to come from a "green island" in the Caribbean. Similarly, the exact membership of the Indo-Asian bloc is never fully explained, though one can assume that it includes India, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Tibetan diaspora.
* NoNameGiven: The Commander, [[spoiler:though a few characters call him "Kip"]].
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Yevgeny Rostov is a master of this tactic.
* OnlyKnownByHisNickname: The Orange Man.
* TheOphelia: Sparta at the beginning of the series is a barely-coherent mess, the result of the Free Spirit's machinations. She gets better, though.
* PetTheDog: Holly Singh is very fond of her superchimps.
* PompousPoliticalPundit: Sir Randolph Mays.
* ProfessionalKiller: The Orange Man.
* PsychoLesbian: Played with in the first book. Sondra Sylvester is initially considered a strong suspect for the ''Space Queen'' sabotage, because she has a longstanding feud with one of the recipients of the ship's cargo, a feud that stems in part from her stealing his wife. [[spoiler:She turns out to be innocent of the sabotage, but then murders her rival anyway]].
* RedHerring: The series is loaded with them.
* RedRightHand: By the sixth book, Nemo no longer looks fully human.
* TheReveal: [[spoiler:Howard Falcon is pretty much a human brain in a robot body]].
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: The massacre at Kingman's Lodge.
* SassyBlackWoman: Arlene Diaz, Sparta's former boss.
* ScottishEnglish: Angus [=McNeill=] is a Scotsman, so his dialogue is lightly tinged with a Scottish accent.
* SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong: In the sixth book, Forster's team must try and repair history after Nemo gets his hands on a world-ship.
* SkinnyDipping: Sparta spends much of the fifth book swimming nude in the world-ship.
* SlasherSmile: Holly Singh's smile reminds Sparta of Kali, the Goddess of Destruction.
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Sparta's ability to win at chess early in the first book is one of the few signs that the Free Spirit's efforts to wipe her memory haven't completely succeeded.
* SmugSnake: Vincent Darlington.
* SocietyMarchesOn: Back in the eighties, when Preuss began working on the series, being outed as gay or lesbian could ruin your career, and this is used as unspoken leverage by Sparta to get Sondra Sylvester to cooperate with the investigation into the ''Star Queen'' sabotage, and eventually leads to [[spoiler:Sylvester snapping and killing Vincent Darlington]]. While there are still places in the modern world where gays and lesbians are forced to stay in the closet, it's hard to believe that the North Continental Treaty Alliance, which includes several countries that now have marriage equality, would be one of those places.
* SpaceFillingEmpire: The Earth in Venus Prime is divided up into the North Continental Treaty Alliance (North America, Europe, and Russia), the Azure Dragon Mutual Prosperity Sphere (China, Japan, and the Middle East), a Latin-Africa bloc, and an Indo-Asian bloc.
* TheSpock: Every graduate of the [=SPARTA=] program is a genius.
* TheSquadette: Pilot Josepha Walsh is initially the only female on Forster's team. Unusual for this trope, [[VasquezAlwaysDies she does NOT die after Ellen Troy joins them]].
* StageMom: [[spoiler:Ari Nagy, Sparta's mother. She wanted to use her own daughter to test her theories on intelligence, and later made a deal with the Free Spirit whereby Linda was turned into something more than human]].
* StalkerWithACrush: Blake Redfield starts off as one of these towards Sparta.
* StarfishAliens: Thowintha's species and the Medusas.
* StartingANewLife: In the first book, Sparta spends something like two years setting up a new life for herself as "Ellen Troy" after escaping from a mental hospital.
* StuffBlowingUp: Tends to happen when Blake Redfield's around.
* {{Terraform}}:
** ''The Shining Ones'' involves the protagonists traveling through a black hole into distant past and witnessing a race of squid-like aliens attempting to remake Venus based on a very specific template. These aliens, called the Amaltheans, redirect comets to crash on Venus and create water. Unfortunately, they fail to anticipate a meteor storm that destroys their efforts. The Amaltheans then split based on their opinion towards the official doctrine, which states that settled planets must be exactly like their homeworld. The Adaptationists end up joining the humans and traveling to Mars to terraform it. One of the ways they do that is by inserting artificial spinning black holes (in containment, of course) into the poles in order to increase gravity to Earth-norm. In the end, though, the Traditionalists end up attacking Mars and destroying their efforts, returning the planet into the desolate rock we know. The Adaptationists settle for traveling to Earth and lying dormant in the oceanic depths for human life to emerge.
** In the first book in the series, Sparta muses that at the same time that humans are trying to make Venus more like Earth, Earth is becoming more like Venus, thanks to extensive use of coal power, coupled with humans' over-reliance on air-conditioning.
* TheyLookJustLikeEveryoneElse: The Free Spirit has operatives all over the place.
* TimeSkip: The series has several of these, to cover the time that Sparta and Blake spend either in transit or establishing cover identities (for instance, the first book skips over the two years that Sparta spends establishing her identity as Ellen Troy.)
* TrainingFromHell: Blake's initiation into the Free Spirit entails running through a massive fire, swimming through an underwater labyrinth, scaling a wall, and skydiving without a parachute.
* TykeBomb: The Free Spirit creates quite a few of these. Sparta was supposed to be the ultimate one, but rebelled against their attempts to brainwash her. [[spoiler:Josepha Walsh was also supposed to be turned into a Tyke Bomb, but got caught and recruited by Salamander]].
* UselessBoyfriend: Averted with Blake Redfield, who's smart enough that the Commander doesn't mind Ellen Troy bringing him along.
* VillainExitStageLeft: [[spoiler:Nemo manages to escape twice - first when Blake figures out his secret identity, and then when Sparta shoots up Kingman's Lodge. His third attempt is less successful; he gets his hands on a world-ship, but thanks to his own machinations, ends up being erased from reality]].
* WeakButSkilled: Sparta is not especially strong (and in fact, the first book suggests that her enhanced senses actually compromise her endurance), but her ability to learn quickly ''does'' extend to martial arts.
* WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes: Tony Groves is terrified of drowning. This is problematic, because traveling in the world-ship requires being drowned ''repeatedly''.
* WretchedHive:
** Labyrinth City is a colony on Mars, so it's freezing, there's no breathable air, very little water, and sanitation is still being worked out. Meanwhile, there's a vicious fight being waged between the various unions.
** Shoreless Ocean, on Ganymede, is somewhat better, but there's a strong undercurrent of racism and separatist sentiment.
* {{Yellowface}}: In the fifth book, Blake Redfield, who's half Chinese, puts on makeup to try and pass for completely Chinese. It doesn't quite work.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: At the end of the third book, [[spoiler:William Laird kills Rupert Kingman, ostensibly because Kingman failed to secure the Martian plaque, but also in order to take over the Free Spirit]].
* {{Zeerust}}: Preuss began writing the series back in the eighties, and of course, every book was an expansion of an older story that Clarke had written (the first book was an expansion of ''Breaking Strain'', which was written back in 1948 and first published in 1954.) Naturally, a lot of the technology sounds horribly dated to modern readers.