Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author


Interesting new title from Becky Chambers

I didn’t know this was coming out:

This definitely sounds like a promising novella. From Goodreads:

In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves.

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in sub-zero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life.

Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

That last line gives the whole thing a wistful tone. I wonder if Chambers makes the slightest effort to justify somaforming, or whether she just handwaves past the science-y parts? I could see handling this either way. Given it’s a novella, probably the latter.

Has anybody tried this one yet? What did you think?

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Recent Reading: Mapping Winter by Marta Randall

You all recall that I mentioned Mapping Winter recently, because it is a new version of an old book, Marta Randall’s Sword of Winter. As I said, I really liked the earlier version and have read it quite a few times, so I was definitely interested in the new version.

Well, Mapping Winter is an excellent story. What has stayed the same: Most of the plot, but not the ending. What has changed, besides the ending and the names of the most important characters? Well, first, there’s a lot more depth to both the protagonist and the world.

Lyeth was a fine protagonist. But Kieve, though similar, is better. She is more complicated and deeper, more conflicted in various important ways. Her deep longing to see new places has been added in this version – part of the brand-new emphasis on exploring and mapping. Her relationship with her guildmaster is a lot more complicated as a result. In fact, most of her relationships are more complex. Plus the new ending grows out of that aspect of her character.

The world in Sword of Winter was perfectly fine, but the world has deepened in the new version of the story. The local political situation is fraught in both books, but the broader world in Mapping Winter is more important. Clearly that is going to increase in later books in the series.

How about that new ending?

Well . . . I sort of like it. The new ending arises naturally out of the new story. It’s not as pat or as convenient as the original ending. Some aspects of the new ending offend my sense of justice. Plus a character I like gets killed, which always makes me unhappy. Still, the nastiest villain meets his just end, so it could be worse. Given the new ending, the set-up for the next book seems clear. It’s possible the local political situation will be altered again by later events. Or that whole part of the story, central in this book, may fade in importance. That’s not nearly as clear.

Mapping Winter also offers lyrical prose and great description. I’m not sure whether the writing was this beautiful in the earlier version because I didn’t get Sword of Winter off the shelf to compare, but if the thirty-six-year gap between the two versions has made a difference, it’s a good one. Either way, the writing in Mapping Winter is just beautiful.

The alpine valley ended as sharply as though sheared away, leaving in its place a chasm falling in shattered steps into blackness before the land leaped up again in the distance, and up further to the head of a massive peak to the northwest. Flat sunlight struck the shoulders of the peak, flaring from snow and ice fields; it seemed in that moment that another world had opened before her, one so new that the colors had not yet been added.

And again, a single sentence that struck me as particularly beautiful:

Someone sat in a barracks window, playing a flute. Its crisp music decorated the chill air.

Its crisp music decorated the chill air. I wish I’d written that sentence.

So, then, should you buy this new book?

Yes, you absolutely should. If you loved Sword of Winter, you’ll probably love Mapping Winter. If you never read the earlier book, you’ll probably love Mapping Winter, especially if you like secondary-world fantasy with a heavy emphasis on politics. I will add, if you like my novels, you’re almost certain to like this one.

When Marta Randall brings out the next one in this series, I’ll be right there for it.

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Okay, we really DO live in an SF universe

Scientists produce self-healing gel made out of bacteria-killing viruses

It’s impossible to improve on that headline. It’s practically the ultimate medicine-related science fiction headline. Here’s what the article says:

Bacteria-killing viruses, called bacteriophages or phages, are the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on the planet, far outnumbering any other life form — even bacteria. …

In her lab, Hosseini-Doust grew, extracted and packed bacteriophages together at such a great density that they spontaneously arranged themselves into liquid crystals. When Hosseini-Doust added a chemical binder, the crystallized phages formed a gelatin-like substance that repairs itself when cut.

The new gel could be augmented for a variety of purposes. Because bacteriophage DNA can be easily edited, the viruses can be trained to attack cancer cells, eat plastics or counteract environmental pollutants.

Wow. Like the phage-related snake oil of the (possibly near) future.

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Recent Reading: The Sequoyah trilogy by Sabrina Chase

The three titles are —

The Long Way Home

Raven’s Children

Queen of Chaos

Okay, I said the first book, The Long Way Home, did not really fit as space opera because it was too slow paced. I hereby take that back. Only the beginning of the first book is slow. I’m not even 100% sure about that part, because I have not been in the mood to read new-to-me SFF much this year, so there might have been a hurdle to getting into this trilogy. If so, that wore off – as I think I indicated – about at the point that Moire left the original ship. I do think the story takes off at that point. After which it does not slow down very much or very often until the hard-fought but (naturally) triumphant conclusion.

Let me see. What to say about this trilogy. Okay . . .

1) It’s highly engaging once you get into it. Pacing is mostly fast, which the author achieves by snipping out almost all travel. Plenty of good guys to root for, plenty of bad guys to boo and hiss, lots of action. Friends, enemies, aliens. Family dynamics. The universe is tough in some ways, but the overall atmosphere is not gritty or grim; despite the occasional crime boss and so on, the story actually showcases a fairly optimistic view of human nature. If you like the term, you could call this noblebright space opera.

2) I like Moire a lot. She’s an interesting and engaging protagonist. Quick thinking, loyal, kind by nature. The aliens become important as the story progresses, and Moire’s basic kindness is crucial to get that subplot lined up with the broader plot. Also, I like the name “Moire.” That is not crucial for liking a book, but it doesn’t hurt.

3) Lots of neat secondary characters too, from Commander Ennis, the secondary protagonist, right down the line to minor characters like the engineering guy whose head is generally drifting gently through the clouds. There are a lot of secondary characters because this is a fairly sprawling story. Sabrina Chase handles them well, making nearly all of them seem like real people.

4)  The aliens are pretty alien. They don’t even breathe the same atmosphere, which is a nice touch, not to mention challenging for the author. Their psychology is not soooooo unfamiliar, so most readers are probably not going to have a difficult time believing in them. I thought they were reasonably plausible as well as suited to the overall plot. So, good job with the aliens and I’ll have to remember to add this trilogy to my “neat alien” list.

5) Wow, coincidences can be helpful. A couple in this story are at the “divine intervention” level. But in space opera, that works, imo. It’s even expected. Nice denouement. That’s important to me.

6) As I said earlier, the writing is solid, correct, smooth, and does not call attention to itself. There are a bunch of brief moments when some very minor character gets the pov, but these do not detract from the reading experience even for me, and I usually dislike that. This is because those scenes are handled well and because they’re so brief. Even the little tidbit from the alien’s pov is okay.

Overall conclusion: if you’re into space opera, definitely try this trilogy. If it seems slow to you at the beginning, keep going. (If it doesn’t, drop a comment here to say so; I’m curious about whether that reaction is just me.) I’ve seen one review that compared this trilogy to LMB’s Vorkosigan series. I don’t think that fits, for various reason, but I’m hard put to think of a better comparison. It reminds me a bit of the Illuminae Files trilogy by Kaufman and Kristoff, but despite the occasional mad coincidence, the Sequoyah trilogy is a lot more believable and, I would say, more sophisticated (which is not a criticism of the Illuminae Files, which I loved).

Now I’m going on to the sequel of The Last Mage Guardian, which is called Dragonhunter, after which I’ll undoubtedly go on to the rest of Sabrina Chase’s backlist.

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Keto crepes: a reasonably acceptable bread substitute.

Okay, you can just skip these posts if you’re not interested, but here’s a useful zero-carb bread substitute, completely different from the black seed bread I posted a couple days ago.

These are super-simple and more useful than perhaps may first be apparent:

Keto crepes

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp almond flour

Put all ingredients in a blender. It can help to warm the cream cheese up a bit in the microwave first. Blend until smooth. Add a generous dab of butter or whatever to a skillet, heat the skillet, pour the batter into smallish pancakes, and cook in the standard fashion for pancakes.

The typical recipe of this kind has twice as much cream cheese and no almond flour. Those are more difficult to turn and I got tired of dealing with it, so I tried altering the ingredients as listed above. That worked fine. These little crepes are much easier to turn.

They are fairly similar to regular crepes. Not as good, but that is going to be a continuing theme with all bread substitutes, I fear. These are okay. I am not interested in eating them with syrup, though I gather many people do. I am not that keen on pancakes drenched in syrup anyway, plus I’m suspicious of sugar-free syrup.

I use them more in the way you’d use chapatis, folding them around meat dishes, such as the pork shoulder I recently braised in coconut milk. Or rolled around various sandwich spreads. Used in that way, these are a decent substitute for bread.

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Recent Reading: The Long Way Home by Sabrina Chase

So, what with one thing and another, I’ve been dipping into my TBR pile lately. I was in the mood for something science fictiony, so I opened up the first SF-looking kind of thing I came to on my Kindle. That was The Long Way Home by Sabrina Chase.

Sabrina Chase, I said to myself. That sounds familiar. What have I read by her? It turns out Sabrina Chase is the person who wrote The Last Mage Guardian, which was one of the better novels in the Noblebright fantasy bundle I got the other year. I liked that fantasy novel enough to put The Long Way Home on my Kindle after reading it, where of course it sat for a long time gathering virtual dust.

Well, if anything, this SF novel … which is really a trilogy … is at least as good as The Last Mage Guardian. Maybe better. Different, though, so not that easy to compare. This SF trilogy is more complex, slower-paced, contains almost no romance (though in the first book, there’s a little hinting about potential romance to come), and offers characters who are more subtle and more complex.

Moire Cameron is in trouble as the book opens. There isn’t much new or different about this kind of trouble. She’s in a battle, in space. She’s flying a little personal fighter craft of some kind. As I say, it’s a pretty familiar situation and I was not initially very interested. Even then, though, the reader does get hints about Moire’s complex backstory. She joined the mercenaries to avoid someone else, some dangerous enemy, who wants . . . something. She knows something important, but she apparently can’t just yell her secrets to the skies and get her enemies off her back that way because . . . reasons. She has to keep her past secret from everyone, and she never thinks about her past in detail, so the reader has to puzzle it out along the way.

So there Moire is, in a battle in space. She pulls off an impressive maneuver that gets her noticed and  events slowly unfold from there. Eventually the reader meets the secondary protagonist, a naval commander named Ennis, with a complex backstory of his own. Enemies arrive, Moire joins a mutiny to get away, and the plotlines of the story diverge rapidly, to come back together only near the end, and then separate again. It’s after Moire’s off the original ship and on the run that the story picks up.

So, non-spoilery stuff you might want to know about this book:

a) The first book is not self-contained. Just know that going in. The second and third books are available. I’m reading the second one now.

b) Moire becomes more interesting and engaging the longer you know her. The story also becomes more interesting and engaging as you get deeper into it.

c) We do have one mind-boggling coincidence to bring an important secondary character into play, but it’s not that hard to just go along with it, especially because the extremity of the coincidence is not apparent at first.

d) The writing is solid.

I’ve been re-reading all the Beverly Connor mysteries, which are thoroughly catchy and I like them a lot, but the difference in the quality of the sentence-level writing is underlined by going from one author to the other in quick succession. Although Connor’s writing is not bad, I experience constant low-level annoyance in her books because of her use of the simple past when the past perfect would be more appropriate and her use of “may” when it should be “might.” Those sorts of problems are absent in Chase’s writing. The prose in The Long Way Home is not poetic or lyrical or evocative – no descriptors of that kind come to mind – but it’s solid, correct, and easy to read. It’s the kind of prose that doesn’t call attention to itself or get in the way, which is well suited to the story.

e) The second book is immediately engaging. This is not unexpected because it opens almost where the first leaves off, so the reader is already involved in the story.

f) Wow, are the bad guys bad. They are SO evil, they might be a little bit over the top. I’m not having any trouble believing in them, however, partly because we spend only a little time in villain pov. Ordinarily I just detest villain pov, but these sections are so brief they don’t get on my nerves very much. It’s a little difficult to decide whether the occasional sections spent in the pov of minor secondary characters and / or villains are an asset to the overall story, but on the whole I do think the information given to the reader via those sections would be hard to dispense with. And they are brief, thankfully, so it’s not like the reader is pulled out of the main story for long periods.

g) The story is a little hard to place. A bit slow for space opera, particularly for the first third or so of the first book; and the fairly complicated braiding of pov is not necessarily typical for space opera. Definitely not a science fiction romance. Not military SF, though there are aspects that are like military SF. I think if this were fantasy, I’d call it epic fantasy. Since it’s SF, I’m not sure. Let’s say this is a more traditional science fiction adventure story, one that isn’t trying to push the edges of the genre but is simply aiming to tell a good story. I like it a lot, and the second book more than the first because I’m familiar with the setup.

If you’d like a good, solid, traditional adventure story, then by all means give this one a try.

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Interesting! New version of Marta Randall’s Sword of Winter

Anybody besides me remember Sword of Winter? It was first published in 1983, I see. Wow, how time flies.

It’s a good book — I’ve read it a bunch of times. In fact, I learned a lot about writing action scenes from the scavenger hunt in this book. I mean, about the nuts and bolts of the sentences that go into writing that kind of scene — the effect of shortening or lengthening sentences and things like that.

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

In the cold and dangerous land of Cherek, emerging from an era of magic and confronted by technological advancements, Lord Gambin of Jentesi lies dying and chaos reigns. During his four decades in power, Gambin has wielded a tight and tyrannical hold over his province, and his four heirs jockey to inherit his vast power, the people of Cherek teeter on the brink of change and watch the passing of the sword in Jentesi. For if Gambin’s power passes intact to his heirs, Cherek could lose the promise of its bright future and tumble irrevocably into a dark and vicious past.

This is terrible back cover copy. Not that it’s false, but it’s completely misleading. Nothing whatsoever about the protagonist, Lyeth; or about the most important secondary character, Emeris, a boy whom Lyeth takes under her wing. Lyeth drives the story. I can’t believe she’s been erased from the description.

But here’s the interesting thing: Marta Randall must have pried the rights back, because she’s released an apparently heavily revised version under a different title: Mapping Winter.

Look at that, Book I of a series. One gathers that when it came to this story, Randall always had more in her head than made it to print. Here’s the description from Amazon:

In the frozen land of Cherek, Lord Cadoc Marubin lies dying and chaos threatens the land.

During his four decades in power he had held Dalmorat Province in an iron grip, for which his heirs now contend. Cherek is poised on the brink of new-world advancements in culture and technology, but Cadoc’s choice could deny his people that bright fate and seal Dalmorat in darkness.

Kieve Rider, sworn to Cadoc’s service, detests both the man she serves and the oath that binds her to his evils. Yet by that same oath it falls upon her to act as lynchpin in Cadoc’s naming of a new heir. Embroiled in the complexities of character, corruption and political intrigue, Kieve struggles to trust anyone, not least herself.

Interesting! The main character has either changed entirely, or at least changed her name. But she is mentioned here, though, rather than erased from the description. I can see the fundamental background seems about the same, or at least the two versions look like close cousins.

Despite the bones of the background showing considerable similarity, there’s nothing here about Emeris. If he’s not present in this story, that would change practically everything, so much so that Randall might as well have changed all the names and just said this was a different world, unrelated to anything else she ever wrote.

Well, we’ll soon see, because I did immediately pick up this new book. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Marta Randall’s done with it.

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The keto diet is not my favorite thing ever, but —

So, I have pretty much been on the keto diet since January. I was driven to it by a sharp weight gain in 2018, which suggested a future trend less acceptable than the slower weight gain of the past couple of decades.

It reminds me of a comment I saw somewhere, actually: “I wish I could be the weight I was the first time I thought I was fat.” That pretty well captured my feeling at the beginning of 2019, except I would have settled for the weight I was the second time I thought I was unacceptably overweight. Well, now I’m getting close to that point, I’m glad to say.

Prior experience suggested that keto was the way to go for me. I am aware people don’t all respond to dietary changes the same way, but still, I had pretty clear evidence that this was the way I should go. Keto didn’t work as fast as I would have liked, though as far as that goes I didn’t stick to it with truly unfailing commitment either, so there’s that. Pretty tight commitment though, nearly all the time. Call it the keto diet with dark chocolate and very occasional complete backsliding.

Sometime in June, I hit my first goal, which was to lose the 20 lbs I gained in 2018. At that point I lightened up a bit on the keto thing, but I didn’t loosen it up too much. I’ve now just about gotten to my second goal, which was to lose another 5 lbs. I wouldn’t mind dropping another 5 or 10 after this, though no more than that.

Anyway, I hate the keto diet, though I’ve gotten somewhat used to it. I really like carbs, especially bread, rice, and pasta. Sure, desserts too, but giving up bread is worse for me than giving up sugar. I used to bake all the time, and so far as I can tell, there are zero really great bread-substitutes for the keto diet. I have tried some pretty terrible bread-substitutes, believe me.

However, there are several semi-okay bread substitutes. I thought I’d start posting a few of those now and then. Here’s one I made this morning for the first time. It’s not bread, but it’s not bad. It’s actually pretty tasty and might be worth making even if you’re not on any kind of diet.

Black Seed Bread

  • 1/2 C flax seeds, whole
  • 1/2 C flax seeds, ground
  • 1/2 C poppy seeds
  • 1/2 C white sesame seeds
  • 1 C black sesame seeds (I actually had a lot of black sesame seed in the freezer, which is why I decided to try this recipe. I can’t see why more ordinary sesame seeds wouldn’t work if you don’t have black sesame seed handy.)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Combine the seeds and set aside. Whisk the eggs. Whisk the tahini, olive oil, and salt into the eggs. Stir in all the seeds. Let rest 30 minutes to hydrate the seeds. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of paper. Spray the pan and paper. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or so, until the top is firm to the touch. Cool five minutes. Lift the loaf out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Now, this recipe is from Bon Appetit. The above is pretty much unchanged from their recipe, which you can see here. I did use just one tsp salt. I see the online version of the recipe calls for a full Tbsp salt, but I think the version in the magazine, which is what I was working from, called for just a tsp, which makes much more sense anyway.

The texture isn’t bad. The bread is obviously very heavy, but it’s also fairly moist and pleasant. The mouthfeel is different from bread, but not bad. The taste seems to me distinctly and surprisingly buttery. Pretty good plain, a slice would certainly be nice with cheese melted onto it, or to dip in the yolk of over-easy eggs, or beside a bowl of soup.

I will be making this again, though since I’m now nearly out of black sesame seeds, probably with white sesame seeds.

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Recent reading: Darkwood by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

So, my laptop finally bit the dust. Took me four days to get a new laptop, which by the way, have I ever mentioned how much I HATE having to learn to use new technology? I do not care how intuitive computer people think a new laptop is: I don’t think it’s intuitive at all. I wish it worked exactly like my nine-year-old laptop that died, only better, instead of having all these new things to figure out.

Also, it won’t let me activate Word, which is quite a problem.

ANYWAY, while I sort out all that, I’ve had essentially no choice but to dip into my immense TBR pile. Picking a book basically at random, I read Darkwood.

Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths.
This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When the sinister masked Huntsmen accuse Gretel of witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where witches and monsters dwell.
There, she happens upon Buttercup, a witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them.

Darkwood is a funny, playful story, one that deconstructs a bunch of fairy tales and has a tendency to break the fourth wall here and there. It’s a story to enjoy more on an intellectual level than an emotional level, I think — that is, it is a satire of fairy tales, and satire is something to be appreciated intellectually. It’s probably not going to grab a reader emotionally. The Darkwood and environs don’t feel like real places and the characters don’t have the depth of real people either, the way they will, or might, or should, in a different kind of story. That limits emotional engagement, at least for me.

I see Darkwood is being compared to Terry Pratchett in reviews. Well, I see why, I guess, because fantasy satire is a tiny subgenre. But Darkwood lacks the deeper level of insight I think you get with Pratchett (at least with his later books). The social commentary here is much more obvious and delivered without nearly as much actual story wrapped around it. Almost any character from Pratchett’s stories is a lot more complex and rounded than any character from Darkwood. Though Pratchett was writing satire, especially in his later books, the later Sam Vimes stories or many of the others feel much more “real” because of the depth and complexity of the characters.

Now that I re-read the preceding couple of paragraphs, that sounds fairly negative, which I don’t mean to be. I liked Darkwood quite a bit. It’s light and fun and clever and charming. I particularly liked the re-imagining of Snow White. Wow, that is quite a twist on the fairy tale. For playing with fairy tales and fairy tale tropes, this one is top notch. For a Middle Grade reader, even more so, I would bet.

It’s also interesting to consider the subgenre of fantasy satire, because I really had the impression that Pratchett had that subgenre almost entirely to himself. Now I’m thinking there must be more instances out there. I actually have three candidates for the category, now that I think about it:

a) The Diskworld novels.

b) Darkwood

c) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray — which is, however, only on the edge of fantasy, though solidly within the genre of satire. Or the edge of SF. So let’s open up the category to SF as well as fantasy, because why not.

Once you allow SF as well as fantasy, I have one more:

d) Bellwether by Connie Willis

Can anybody else think of SFF stories that fit into an SFF-satire subgenre?

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Anything can be made to seem plausible

Here’s a post by James Davis Nicholl at tor.com: Bad SF Ideas in Real Life: NASA’s Never-Realized Plans for Venus

I like the first couple of paragraphs:

Many readers may find the plots of some SF novels deeply implausible. “Who,” they ask, “would send astronauts off on an interstellar mission before verifying the Go Very Fast Now drive was faster than light and not merely as fast as light? Who would be silly enough to send colonists on a one-way mission to distant worlds on the basis of very limited data gathered by poorly programmed robots? Who would think threatening an alien race about whom little is known, save that they’ve been around for a million years, is a good idea?”

Some real people have bad ideas; we’re lucky that comparatively few of them become reality. Take, for example, a proposal to send humans to Venus. Not to land, but as a flyby.

Arguably, the author’s job is tougher than reality’s job. No matter how mind-bogglingly stupid a proposal might be in real life, an author has to tone the implausibility down in fiction in order to get readers to buy in to the story.

This post reminded me of the XKCD post about flying a Cessna through the atmospheres of the different planets in our solar system. Remember that post? It offers some vivid comments about Venus:

Physics calculations give us an idea of what flight there would be like. The upshot is: Your plane would fly pretty well, except it would be on fire the whole time, and then it would stop flying, and then stop being a plane.

The atmosphere on Venus is over 60 times denser than Earth’s, which is thick enough that a Cessna moving at running speed would rise into the air. Unfortunately, the air it’s rising into is hot enough to melt lead. The paint would start melting off in seconds, the plane’s components would fail rapidly, and the plane would glide gently into the ground as it came apart under the heat stress.

A much better bet would be to fly above the clouds. While Venus’s surface is awful, its upper atmosphere is surprisingly Earthlike. 55 kilometers up, a human could survive with an oxygen mask and a protective wetsuit; the air is room temperature and the pressure is similar to that on Earth mountains. You need the wetsuit, though, to protect you from the sulfuric acid. (I’m not selling this well, am I?)

The acid’s no fun, but it turns out the area right above the clouds is a great environment for an airplane, as long as it has no exposed metal to be corroded away by the sulfuric acid. And is capable of flight in constant Category-5-hurricane-level winds, which are another thing I forgot to mention earlier.

Venus is a terrible place.

I believe in 2312 Kim Stanley Robinson placed floating cities in the atmosphere of Venus, didn’t he? That sounds like a better bet than a wetsuit. Or a plane.

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