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 .
© 2015 Denise Longrie
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