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January 11th, 2005, 01:01 PM
Does anyone knows of a novel dealing with intellegent life developing on two (or more) planets in the same star system and how the beings discover each other? And when they do, what happens?

I want to read a book about this as it seems like it would be a rich senario. If there isn't anything, someone just write one up for me ;)

Thanks in advance,


January 11th, 2005, 02:23 PM
My guess is that if two races were to develop in the same system they would be aware of each other by means of magnification long before they would ever really be able to communicate or impact one another in any significant way. But It's something interesting I'll have to think upon.

But I don't know of any books off the top of my head, really.

January 11th, 2005, 04:27 PM
Oddly enough, "City of Pearl," (soon to be a book club book), deals tangentially with this scenario. In that one one of the species is aquatic, so the knowlege in advance through observation didn't apply.

January 11th, 2005, 05:25 PM
Thanks Archren,

Even if the close neighbors aspect is tangential to the story, I'm interested.


January 12th, 2005, 12:46 AM
But I don't know of any books off the top of my head, really.
War of the Worlds, perhaps?

January 12th, 2005, 11:07 AM
Yeah, that sounds like one of them. :)

Rocket Sheep
January 13th, 2005, 02:22 AM
The first sightings of the "canals" on Mars certainly sparked a whole host of stories about intelligent life there:
davidszondy (http://www.davidszondy.com/future/otherworlds/otherplanets/mars.htm)

January 17th, 2005, 11:21 AM
Given the manifold difficulties involved with building the topography, ecology and social structures of just one world, I think many authors would consider two to be a step toward insanity and the straight-jacket.

One of the biggest problems is the risk of burying the hapless reader under a mountain of infodump. Even fine novels such as Frank Herbert’s Dune become gristly to the teeth during lengthy periods of back story. Multiply that by two and the reader will probably be chewing cogs before the halfway point.

Ostensibly the way around this headache is to have earth as one of the two worlds (half the author’s work is done already) and use another planet or moon in the solar system. The complication however is that over the last few decades unmanned space probes, with their snapshots of desolate, arid and lifeless wastelands, have progressively undermined such opportunities. I suppose Jupiter’s moon Europa remains a possibility for a good story, but it won’t be long before NASA and ESA probes touch down there too.

Offhand I can recall the name of only one* novel that falls into this category: Three Worlds to Conquer by Poul Anderson (throwaway pulp from his early days). I do have a number of books (written in the 30s and 40s) in my “old stuff” trunk that similarly fit the criteria, but I can’t remember the names. That said, I’m sure none of them were good.

* I may be entirely wrong but don’t Jovian aliens attack(?) Blish’s “Bridge” in They Shall Have Stars (the opening book of Cities in Flight)?

January 17th, 2005, 11:57 AM
Thanks Mugwump. I hadn't considered the difficulties such a senario would be for the writer. And as you point out, any such senario set in our own system would be pretty hard to swallow given what we already know.

Still, I'm intrigued by the idea. How would the mutual discovery of close neighbors change the course of developing civilizations?

If there had been Martians back when some thought they were seeing networks of channels on it's surface, how would it have changed our history? It seems it would have had a huge impact on our collective psyche.

I just remembered that West of Eden by Harry Harrison had reptile-people and humans on the same planet. The humans weren't technologically advance, though. That isn't really the story, I'm looking for, though.

January 17th, 2005, 01:02 PM
After munching through a Tuna Fish sandwich (brain food!) and downing a litre of coffee, the old noggin is back into gear once again:

Novels that feature two worlds, in the same star system, each containing a sentient species.

Last and First Men by Stapledon. (Earth and Venus)
The Sirens of Titan by Vonnegut. (Earth and Mercury, I think).
The Skeleton Men of Jupiter [Great title!] by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. (Earth and Mars)
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Time Tombs by J.G.Ballard (Earth and Mars)

I'll add more to this when the memory works properly.