By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Review: Science Fiction Short Story: "Foundling on Venus" by John and Dorothy De Courcy

This is another in the series of “It Came from the Pulps!” where I review science fiction short stories that were originally published in the pulp magazines of mid-20th century. Many of these have become available in electronic form as free downloads, particularly from Project Gutenberg, or for a small price.

Venus has been colonized. At the narrator tells his reader, the north continent, unlike Gaul, is split four ways, with quarters held by the African Federation, a group from Asia, men from Mars (who views their holdings on Venus as a penal colony) and the Federated States. At the point where the four quarters meet is the city of New Reno, a wild and woolly place.

It was here that Jane, on her way to work at the Elite Café, comes across a boy of perhaps three, left outside without a respirator in the cold, thin Venusian atmosphere. His parents don’t seem to be around. It’s a wonder he’s still alive. Children are very rare on Venus.

She brings him into the café where Pete the cook feeds him. He doesn’t utter a world. They both keep an eye on him till the end of the day when Jane says she’ll call the Patrol and see if there’s a missing child.

She keeps her word. No child is missing.

The strength of this story is in its potential. The Venusian colonies, an idea which is never developed, open the door to so much more. Of the Martian penal colonial, the husband and wife team write:

Sleep-eyed, phlegmatic Martians, self-condemned for minute violations of their incredible and complex mores—without guards save themselves—will return to the subterranean cities, complex philosophies, and cool, dry air of Mars when they have declared their own sentences to be at an end.

Yet this intricate world has almost nothing to do with the plot. I want to learn more about these people on other colonies as well. Perhaps the duo meant to expand it a bit. In any event, the story itself is intriguing. It is an entertaining and enjoyable read but not as well-done as it might be. And the first paragraph is a spoiler. UGH! Never the less, this was worth reading.

Title: “Foundling on Venus” first published in Fantastic Universe March 1954

Author: John De Courcy (1932-2013) and Dorothy De Courcy. Unable to find bio info on Dorothy De Courcy, other than that in 2013 she was still living as noted in John De Courcy’s obituary .

Source: ISFDB



© 2015 Denise Longrie

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MelissaE wrote on April 19, 2015, 6:44 PM

I will definitely have to check some of these out. Do you think that I could find free downloads on Amazon?

msiduri wrote on April 19, 2015, 7:11 PM

Some of them. You might have better luck with Gutenberg Project or LibriVox.

msiduri wrote on April 19, 2015, 10:07 PM

The action takes place in one settings, New Reno, but New Reno is the meeting point of four unique quarters. It could have been a lot more.

Telynor wrote on April 20, 2015, 1:39 AM

I am really enjoying your SF reviews. This one sounds interesting, but it's too bad that the potential just trickled away.

msiduri wrote on April 20, 2015, 7:56 AM

Thanks for you kind words. This one really could have been so much more, or at least the beginning of a lot more. The setting was fantastic, the story so-so, but still quite enjoyable.

CalmGemini wrote on April 20, 2015, 2:39 PM

The story could have been better.Yes,there is no bio for Dorothy De Courcy Keep reviewing stories.

msiduri wrote on April 20, 2015, 7:20 PM

It wasn't bad, just so much lost potential. I had a hard time find much of anything for either De Courcy. I only stumbled across the obituary.