Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus

Go To

First published in 1954, by Paul French (a Pen Name for Isaac Asimov). This is a Science Fiction action-adventure with Mystery Fiction elements targeted towards a juvenile audience. The third book of the series, Lucky Starr and Bigman solve the mystery of why a councilman turned traitor after arriving on Venus.

Lucky's roommate from his training as a councilman of the Council of Science, Lou Evans, has been assigned to uncover what's going wrong on Venus, and quickly became embroiled in the problem himself. Naturally, Lucky wants to go there and vindicate his friend. But when Lucky and Bigman are nearly there, the pilots are hypnotized into becoming sessile. Taking over from them, Lucky manages to prevent most of a crash (but he still discovers the the surface of Venus is water and seaweed by crashing into it).


Once they've arrived to the biggest Underwater City on Venus, Aphrodite, they check into Hotel Bellevue-Aphrodite, and have dinner in the Green Room. From there, they're met by Dr Morriss, chief of the Council of Science on Venus. He's there to explain the events that have caused him to suspect X of turning traitor to the Council, and the problems they've been facing for the past several months.

Now disaster strikes! Someone is preparing to open the Underwater City to the entire ocean, which is certain to drown the entire dome and kill everyone within! After a moment's thought, Lucky rushes back the way they came, while Bigman crawls through a ventilation shaft to shut down power to the valves.

But this was all a distraction, and Councilman Lou Evans escaped. Lucky and Bigman take another submersible machine to chase after him. Unfortunately, it was a death trap, created by the V-frogs controlling a two thousand ton monster of aquatic life. Lucky is forced to kill the underwater behemoth, but Evans is again controlled.


It's only through quick thinking (and a jar of petroleum jelly) that Lucky is able to get a message out to Earth, reporting on the dangers of the telepathic V-frogs. But the message is incomplete, because Lucky only has most of the picture. Writing out a plan for Bigman, the two return to Aphrodite city to tell Dr Morriss who is really responsible for the recent series of disasters, and why Lou Evans appeared to betray the Council of Science.


Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus provides examples of:

  • Abomination Accusation Attack: In the last chapter, Lucky accuses Dr Morriss of trying to take control of the Aphrodite dome, but it's a feint to distract L. Turner, who is also in the room.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Bigman volunteers to use an air vent in order to access a critical relay which, once disconnected, will prevent the Underwater City from drowning.
  • Billed Above the Title:
  • Crash Course Landing: After the pilots become hypnotized in the air, Lucky and Bigman have to figure out how to land the plane on their own. They manage it (but barely), crashing through the planet-wide ocean of Venus.
  • Dedication: This volume is dedicated to "Margaret Lesser and all the girls in the department".
  • Delicious Distraction: Lucky notices that the V-frogs seem particularly attracted to petroleum-derived products because of the carbon-hydrogen density. It is this which allows him to break their mental hold at two key points in the story, and hints that they might not be that sentient after all...
  • Excited Show Title!: A few chapters end in exclamation marks:
    • Chapter 3: Yeast!
    • Chapter 4: Councilman Accused!
    • Chapter 5: "Beware Water!"
    • Chapter 6: Too Late!
    • Chapter 8: Councilman Pursued!
    • Chapter 16: The Enemy!
  • Future Food Is Artificial: The primary export from Venus is seaweed, usually modified into a yeast. The yeast-farms export a number of different things to the rest of the solar system, including long-term compact space rations, fertilizer, and animal feed. On Venus itself, the Green Room is an experimental restaurant, providing the most advanced yeast foods, with different flavours and textures.
    "You had no beef, no fruit, no tomatoes. Not even coffee. You had only one thing to eat. Only one thing. Yeast!"Dr Morriss
  • Gagging on Your Words: Bigman, with great reluctance, admits he isn't very tall.
    "[The air ducts are] not as big as all that," said Dr Morriss.
    Bigman swallowed painfully. It cost him a great deal to make the next statement. "I'm not as big as all that, either. Maybe I'll fit."
  • Hopping Machine: "Hoppers"—a ludicrous hopping vehicle that was a System-wide fad some years back—is used by Lucky to get out of a large crowd of people when all the regular vehicles are being used to evacuate that sector of the Underwater City. A policeman jokingly suggests the Hopper, which is a tall vehicle with a small cabin. The singular leg is over seven feet tall and designed to launch it into the air. The rotors above the cabin help keep it aloft longer, and jets of air are used to help clear the area as it lands.
  • The Hypnotoad: The Venusian Frogs (V-frogs) have empathic and telepathic abilities. They use these abilities instinctively to defend themselves by causing potential predators to become fond of them and unable to kill them; this endearing quality makes them popular pets for humans. However, they can also be used by people; Lyman Turner used them to read and influence other human minds.
  • Laser Blade: Bigman carries a knife whose blade is made from force fields, and disguised as a pocket watch. The six-inch blade is described to use a micropile for power, and the ability to cut through any material surface.
  • Mind Probe: In their efforts to figure out why people are blacking out, some of the victims are subjected to a psychic probe, but to no avail.
  • Planet of Hats: To create differences between Earth and the colonized Venus, the Venusian men all have big moustaches.
  • Single-Biome Planet: In an extreme example of Venus Is Wet, the entire planet is covered in an ocean of liquid water and seaweed, which Lucky learns by crashing through the surface of the water.
  • Space "X": The V-frogs, so named because they are a native species to Venus and appear somewhat froglike (although having six legs, frills, and a beak for a mouth doesn't match).
  • Underwater City: Colonies on Venus are built in underwater domes due to 1950s science agreeing that it is essentially a planetary ocean.
  • Venus Is Wet: Published in 1954, Venus is portrayed as an ocean planet with seas and kelp (and domed underwater cities). During the 1978 republishing, Dr Asimov includes a foreword explaining how Science Marches On, including the 1962 Mariner II probe and 1964 radio telescopes, which established that Venus was too hot to contain liquid water, and had a day longer than a year.
  • What We Now Know to Be True: (Written in 1954, before astronomers had a clear idea of what the surface of Venus was like) Lucky mentions that "until the late 1900s astronomers thought Venus had no water. When ships began to land, mankind found that wasn't so." Republishing the book under his own name in 1978, Dr Asimov explained the developments in the 1960s which established the lack of any liquids and almost zero water vapour.
  • Zeerust: The city engineer (Lyman Turner), who is chief of all dome maintenance and engineering, built a portable computer that weighs about 25 pounds. Even allowing for the specialized apparatus hidden in it to control the V-frogs, modern miniaturization would almost certainly have cut that weight down to a more manageable amount, plus made the computer itself less bulky.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: