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Venus Is Wet

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The rain continued. It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and the ton, it hacked at the jungle and cut the trees like scissors and shaved the grass and tunneled the soil and molted the bushes. It shrank men's hands into the hands of wrinkled apes; it rained a solid glassy rain, and it never stopped.
Weather Report Opening of The Long Rain by Ray Bradbury

In the early days of science fiction, the one thing most people knew about the planet Venus (or rather, most people who knew anything about Venus or any other planet in our Solar System for that matter, which at the time included only a very limited group of enthusiasts with university education) was that it has permanent cloud cover over its entire surface. This led to many depictions of Venus as a planet where it rains a lot, often to the point where it's a Single-Biome Planet covered in oceans, or at least swamps or rainforests. This dovetailed nicely with the planet's Roman namesake, as it seemed very appropriate that a planet named for a goddess of fertility and femininity (who was born from seafoam) should be so fecund and watery.

In the 1960s, the planet was visited by unmanned probes which definitively established that the clouds were sulfuric acid, the atmosphere was largely carbon dioxide, and that due to the resulting greenhouse effect the temperature at the planet's dry and barren surface was nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit (480°C). As a result, this is now a Dead Horse Trope used only by authors deliberately harking back to the old days, or in works involving terraforming. Otherwise, the modern stereotype of Venus is as our friendly neighbourhood Death World.


Evidence reported in 2009 suggests, however, that Venus did once have water and could have been habitable as recently as around 700 million years ago, but Venus's lack of a magnetic field caused that water to become disassociated into its component hydrogen and oxygen atoms via solar radiation, leaving nothing to prevent a runaway greenhouse effect and as a result, turning Venus into the dry pressure cooker it is today.

This trope, Once-Green Mars, and Strolling on Jupiter are subtropes to Science Marches On and therefore, more common in sci-fi works of the Two-Fisted Tales variety.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed in Cowboy Bebop. While Venus has been terraformed to the point where people can live there, the surface is still a vast desert. However, numerous floating islands composed of tropical plants were constructed and serve as both a method for introducing oxygen and home for the colonists. Which, incidentally, is the most realistic way Venus could be colonized.

    Comic Books 
  • In the far future of DC One Million, all the planets of Earth's system have been made habitable via advanced terraforming technology. In the case of Venus, it is now a lush, green, paradise world similar to Themyscira, where the Amazons are able to live unmolested. Until the antagonist's Evil Plan does so, that is.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Venus is a lush planet full of plant life and lakes inhabited by winged women who worship Venus and are allied with the Amazons whose culture is very similar to their own.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Safe Havens Venus was once inhabited by an aquatic species, but when the climate began changing to uninhabitable levels, they left to find a new home. They tried Earth first, but found it too dangerous. However, those that were left behind on Earth when the rest left are the ancestors of merfolk.

    Fan Works 
  • Coreline: One of the various reality changes done by the Vanishing was the transformation of Venus into a jungle planet out of pulp fiction, inhabited by characters from the same... and a hard-core Death World nasty enough that any kind of Nature Hero that lives there (well away from civilization) is astonishingly superhuman.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest Rewrite: As per the tradition of classic pulp sci-fi.
  • Rocketship Voyager, written In the Style of... a 1950's sci-fi magazine serial. In Chakotay's backstory, he took part in a 'pacification' campaign against the native inhabitants of Venus.
    They had spent months searching for the culprits with 'copters and amphibious-tanks and orbital platforms; all the technology of Terra useless against an enemy that hid in the swamps and jungles. Eventually Spacefleet had defoliated everything in a twenty-mile radius around the New Earth colony, and that had worked well enough until the never-ending rains turned the ground into a quagmire infested with bloodworms and mudsucker eels.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A bizarre example occurs in the camp B-Movie Queen of Outer Space. In order to use Stock Footage from Flight to Mars, the rocketship is shown crashlanding on an icy world. Our heroes then trek 'below the snowline', instantly appearing in a jungle where they make First Contact with the Venusians, all gorgeous dames who trek around their wet swampy world in short skirts and high heels.
  • The Soviet movie Planeta Bur a.k.a. Planet of Storms has Venus depicted as a cloudy, swampy place with at least one ocean.

  • Poul Anderson
    • In "Sister Planet" Venus is an ocean world with no landmasses. In a variation from the norm, it doesn't have a human-breathable atmosphere.
    • In "The Big Rain", the eponymous rain is entirely man-made due to terraforming.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus: 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.
    • "The Watery Place": The irascible sheriff chosen for First Contact is annoyed by these foreigners from "the watery place", and tells them to get out since nobody wants to be bothered by them. So they arrange for Earth to be forever isolated. He thought they said Venice!
  • Ray Bradbury:
    • "All Summer in a Day" (published in 1954) is set in a colony on Venus, where it rains continually and the sun comes out for only an hour once every seven years.
    • In "The Long Rain" (published in 1950), a rocket crashes on Venus, where it rains constantly. The crew must locate a Sun Dome in which they can find shelter, or die.
      It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping in the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains.
  • Leigh Brackett's short stories, including "Lorelei of the Red Mist", "The Moon That Vanished", and "Enchantress of Venus", depict Venus as warm, wet, and cloudy; most of its surface is ocean or low-lying swamp.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Amtor series depicts Venus ("Amtor" to its inhabitants) as an oceanic world with a tropical climate.
  • Robert A. Heinlein: In both Space Cadet and Between Planets Venus is a humid, swampy jungle. In the former, an attempt to land a Retro Rocket on the surface leads to disaster when the rocket topples over in the swampy ground, stranding the protagonists. In Between Planets the swamps and jungles prove useful for guerilla warfare when resisting The War of Earthly Aggression.
  • Henry Kuttner: In "Clash by Night" and Fury, Venus is an ocean world where the landmasses are dominated by uninhabitable jungle, forcing the colonists from Earth to live in underwater cities.
  • C. S. Lewis: In Perelandra Venus is an ocean world where the only piece of dry land is a mountain emerging from the depths and all the inhabitants live on enormous rafts of matted plant life.
  • H. P. Lovecraft: "In the Walls of Eryx", one of his ventures into straight science fiction, is set on a Venus that has a tropical climate and is filled with lush, swampy jungles with hostile native aliens. The atmosphere is not human-breathable however and the protagonist mentions having to wear a breathing mask and periodically changing filter cartridges.
  • C. L. Moore's Northwest Smith stories depict Venus as dark and swampy.
  • In early issues of the Perry Rhodan series, Venus is described as a lush jungle world teeming with life. After initial exploration, mankind colonizes the planet.
  • In Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth's The Space Merchants, Venus is portrayed as a world of "verdant valleys, crystal lakes, brilliant mountain vistas"... in Fowler Schocken advertising artists' impressions of what it might look like after decades of terraforming. In the present, Venus is devoid of water or a breathable atmosphere.
  • Last and First Men depicts Venus as an ocean world with fierce storms and torrential rains, covered in thick banks of clouds, stewing in temperatures so high that only the poles are just barely habitable to the Fifth Men and home to its own sort of aquatic lifeforms; as part of their terraforming process, the Fifth Men also seed it with island-sized masses of floating marine plants.. However, the atmosphere lacks oxygen until it's terraformed by the Fifth Men, regrettably wiping out the natives. The Seventh Men are engineered with wings to fly over the churning seas several millennia after the air becomes breathable to Terran life.
  • The Tom Corbett Space Cadet novel Revolt on Venus depicts Venus as a jungle world.
  • Stanley Weinbaum: Parasite Planet features a variation — Venus is a Tidally Locked Planet, one hemisphere a sun-baked desert, the other submerged under a sea of ice. However, the planet's "twilight zone" — where the story takes place — is a perfect example of this trope: hot, steamy, with a luxuriant flora and fauna hell-bent on eating you (yes, even the plants).
  • The Cosmic Express: Venus is a habitable jungle planet similar to pre-Cenezoic Earth, complete with dinosaurs.
  • The Doors Of His Face The Lamps Of His Mouth is an early example of a deliberately retro Venus, with oceans containing monstrous fish.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: One of the good endings of "Your Very Own Robot" ends with the protagonist and robot going to Venus, which is a sticky, gooey mire; later she has to play dumb when her parents ask about the goo on her shoes.
  • Old Venus is a 2015 anthology that homages this trope, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. All are contemporary sci-fi stories set on a watery or jungle-clad Venus.
  • Radiance by Catherynne M Valente is an homage to inter-war science fiction in which all of the worlds of the solar system are inhabited by complex life and at least moderately hospitable to humans. Venus, where many of the key events of the novel take place, is depicted as a wet world of marshes, lakes, and sea, but Neptune is the novel's out-and-out waterworld with no land at all.
  • Carl Sagan in Cosmos lists the theories about how Venus could be before spacecrafts found the hot, hard, facts. Among others, besides the lush world already mentioned, was that the planet was covered in a global ocean where part of the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere would have dissolved. In other words, a sparkling water sea.

  • The Twilight Histories episode “Blue Dragons” takes place in a world where Venus has been terraformed into a habitable world. Your mission is to find out who did this and how they accomplished it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Space 1889, Venus is a swamp planet inhabited by lizard-men and dinosaurs. Its magnetic field destroys the liftwood the British use for their spaceships, so initially German ether Zeppelins were used to colonize it.
  • In Leaving Earth 1956 - 1976, it is possible to explore Venus and reveal a world like this. Or you could find it to be as hot, crushing, and inhospitable as the Venus we know (and love?). This game is focused on the space race, and to recapture the fact we didn't know the truth about these worlds before sending probes there—both realistic and theoretical possible options exist in game and the true nature of each planet is random from those.
  • In Mutant Chronicles, Venus is more diverse than other examples. While the large area around the equator is sweltering jungle, further north or south things become more temperate. Closer to the Rings of Winter, its very similar to North America
  • Pathfinder and its sci-fi spinoff Starfinder are both set in a solar system loosely resembling ours, though filtered through a very pulpy Science Fantasy lens. The second planet from their sun, Castrovel, is therefore a throwback to these older portrayals of Venus, a jungle world inhabited by a beautiful and matriarchal race of psychic humanoids called the lashunta. Castrovel is also the original home of the elves.

    Video Games 
  • In Destiny, Venus was once the 900-degree world that we know, but the Traveler helped humanity terraform it, and now it's a wet drippy jungle world.
  • In the arcade game Solar Warrior, Venus is a jungle world with big insects, carnivore flowers, and where Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
  • Downplayed example in Warframe. Venus had been partially terraformed by Orokin Precursors in the distant past, but rather than turning it into a lush jungle they only managed to cool it off, turning vast segments of the planet into frozen wastelands, covered in artificial snow (the snow is not water, but synthetical cooling liquid) and poor in vegetation. These conditions remain only due to the remnant terraforming machines that managed to last centuries working non-stop, and without them the planet would presumably return to its natural state as we know it.
    • It's mentioned in the Codex that the majority of the planet is similar to its current state. The Orb Vallis (a large snowy territory containing several of the aforementioned terraforming devices) is described by one of its denizens as "A blizzard in a firestorm", and is bordered on all sides by a perpetual storm, presumably caused by the temperature difference.
  • The Venus in Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus is a proper pulp-serial jungle, with random quicksand pools, snakes cunningly disguised as vines and Bird People natives.
  • In Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon, Pox claims that Venus used to be lush and sustained life before the Furon Empire turned into a "self-perpetuating inferno." While it is never clarified as to why they did that (though it can't be hard to guess with the Furons), the last remaining thing from this time in Venus' history are spore samples from a carnivorous plant species that would be used as ammo for the Venus Human Trap weapon.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, Venus is depicted as a lush, tropical swamp with red water and purple and blue plants during Leela's dream in "The Sting".

Alternative Title(s): Venus Was Wet