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Planets in science fiction

The exploration of other worlds is one of the most enduring themes of science fiction.

During the first decades of science fiction, Mars was the most common planet and the most romanticized of our solar system whose surface conditions seemed closest to being amenable to life. Percival Lowell's idea about canals of Mars was taken at face value then. Currently Mars is depicted mainly as a target of terraforming.

See Mars in fiction for more details on the red planet's numerous roles.

During the early-to-mid 20th century, Venus was also a popular subject. Venus is very similar to Earth in its size and surface gravity, and its surface is hidden by a thick cloud layer. Venus was usually depicted as a warm, wet, jungle- and marsh-covered world where life was plentiful, with often thinly-veiled allegories of the European colonization of Africa. Venus is in fact an inhospitable world — the clouds are sulfuric acid, the atmosphere is hundreds of times thicker than Earth's, and the surface temperature could melt lead.

See Venus in fiction for more details and particular works.

Table of contents
1 Fictional planets
2 Books
3 External Links
4 Related articles

Fictional planets

Authors have created thousands of fictional planets. Most of them are nearly indistinguishable from Earth, which is why Brian M. Stableford calls them "Earth-Clones". In these, differences with Earth life are mostly social (like Barrayar in the science fiction of Lois McMaster Bujold). More physically unusual planets have been in the hard science fiction books.

Unusual Social environment

Typical examples are prison planets, primitive cultures, political or religious extremes and pseudo-medieval societies. See Utopia, Dystopia. Some Fantasy Worlds are also depicted as alien planets.

Unusual Physical environment

Typical examples are one-climate planets — deserts, waterworlds, arctic conditions and especially jungles.


In addition, some writers and scientists have speculated about artificial planets or planet-equivalents; see Larry Niven's Ringworld or Freeman Dyson's Dyson sphere.


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