Of our Solar System’s planets, none fill me with dread like Venus. For a time we thought it might be Earthlike, a “sister” planet, and early science-fiction abounds with Venusian and Venerian tales: a steamy jungle world, giant trees, wet with mist and fetid growth, a greenhouse paradise. To find out its real character feels like an insult. Sulfuric acid clouds, insupportable pressure, and an atmosphere so thick it conceals the planet’s surface from us, eternally coy, sinister, blank. To me it’s like the Freudian uncanny of planets, familiar while being horrible.
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