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Some day these will be visited by archaeologists, and then cordoned off as heritage sites, and then your great-grandchildren will have to pay to see them.For now the evidence that humans walked on the moon, the abandoned gear and footprints, is invisible from Earth even through the space telescopes.But Jupiter is enormous, in mass, area and volume far out-massing anybody in the solar system save the sun itself: it is like a pocket universe.And we know virtually nothing about it which is one reason Al and I were drawn to our sequel project.The upper clouds might offer temperate conditions, but as early as the 1930s there were predictions that deep within the planet the pressures would transform a liquid hydrogen ocean into a metallic form, capable of conducting electricity and generating a powerful magnetic field. Rather as in the movie Avatar (2009) a crippled human operator called Edward Anglesey is psionically linked to Joe, a centaur-like artificial life-form, a pseudojovian, on Jupiters surface: Imagine being strong!Against this background, from the 1930s more grounded Jupiter fiction began to appear, thanks to the influence of editor John W. Ultimately Joe takes over, with the last of Angleseys consciousness taken into his own.It was perhaps Clarkes last significant work of short fiction, and has been reprinted many times since perhaps most notably as a terrifically illustrated serial in the short-lived magazine Speed & Power (IPC, issues 513, 1974), a rendition which made a significant impact on the imagination of a young Reynolds.

[Top] We see very little of the solar system in the movie Avatar: just a few brief scenes on a desolate Earth.

As the Discovery passed, however, two probes were dropped into Jupiters upper atmosphere.

One probe fails but the other, in a prevision of Falcons adventures, penetrates high cloud to an area of clear air above a deeper layer of clouds; there are glimpses of structure a cone-shaped mountain surrounded by a halo of beads before the probe is crushed by the pressure, and Discovery sails on (p122).

[Top] The Medusa Chronicles, my new collaboration with Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz, 2016), came out of a chance suggestion by Al in the course of a nostalgic email exchange: why dont we write a sequel to A Meeting with Medusa? Clarkes much-loved novella was originally published in Playboy for December, 1971.

It is a saga of the exploration of Jupiters cloud layers, with the intrepid Howard Falcon encountering aerial life forms dominated by the huge medusae.

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  1. Dating is a stage of romantic relationships in humans whereby two people meet socially with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a prospective partner.

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