The Secret of the Ninth Planet, страница 1
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The Secret of the Ninth Planet
_A Science Fiction Novel_
By Donald A. Wollheim
Jacket design by James Heugh
[Transcriber note: Extensive research did not uncover any evidence thatthe U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
_Cecile Matschat, Editor__Carl Carmer, Consulting Editor_
THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANYPhiladelphia Toronto
Copyright, 1959By Donald A. Wollheim
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 59-5328
_Manufactured in the United States of America_
For-- Three denizens of this minor planet: Eleanor, Bill, and of course Janet.
_The Mysterious Ninth World_
1. _Special Delivery--by Guided Missile_
2. _The Valley of Stolen Sunlight_
3. _The Secret of A-G 17_
4. _The Hidden Skyport_
5. _Up the Rope of Space_
6. _Sunward Ho!_
7. _Hot Spot on Mercury_
8. _The Veil of Venus_
9. _The Ocean Primeval_
10. _The Dying Planet_
11. _Martians Don't Care_
12. _At Rope's End_
13. _The Pole of Callisto_
14. _Rockets Away!_
15. _Ice Cold on Oberon_
16. _In Orbit Around Pluto_
17. _Stronghold of the Lost Planet_
18. _Sacrifice on the Sacred Moon_
19. _The Museum of Galactic Life_
_About the Author_
_The Mysterious Ninth World_
While the circumnavigation of the solar system seems farfetched, it maynot be once the problem of effective anti-gravitational control issolved. In this book I have assumed that the many researchers nowactually at work on this problem will achieve such a result in the nextdecade. It is not at all impossible that they may--for we all know thatthe more minds that work at a problem, the sooner it will be solved. Thediscovery of a means of negating, reversing or otherwise utilizing theimmense force of gravitation for space flight purposes is now thought tobe within the bounds of probability. It should occur some time withinthe next hundred years, possibly in even the short period I assume here.
Once solved, the severe handicaps imposed on space exploration by theweight and chemical limitations of rockets would no longer apply. Thewhole timetable of our conquest of the planets in our solar system wouldbe tremendously speeded up, from hot Mercury all the way out to frigidPluto.
In describing the visits of the spaceship _Magellan_ to the planets, Ihave endeavored to adhere to known facts and the more reasonableassumptions about each of these worlds. The planet Pluto, however,deserves further comment, occupying as it does both an important role inthis adventure and a unique one in actual astronomical lore.
Back at the dawn of this century, many astronomers, and notably Dr.Percival Lowell, studied certain irregularities in the orbit and motionof Neptune, at that time believed to be the outermost planet. Theydecided that these eccentricities (or perturbations, as they are called)could only be caused by the presence of another, yet undiscovered planetbeyond Neptune.
Following this line of research, a young astronomer, Dr. Clyde Tombaugh,working at Lowell's own observatory, was able to announce on March 13,1930, that he had finally found this ninth world, which he named Pluto.
In the years that have followed, Pluto has proven to be a truly puzzlingplanet. Unlike its neighbors from Jupiter outward, it is not a giantworld, light and gaseous in nature. Instead, it belongs physically tothe small, dense inner planets of which Earth is one.
The latest viewpoint on this planet, whose size and weight seem quitelike those of Earth, is that it may not be a true child of the Sun, butan outsider captured as it roamed the trackless realms of galacticspace. Its orbit is highly eccentric and rather lopsided, taking it asfar away from the Sun as four and a half billion miles and as close tothe Sun as two and three-quarter billion miles, thereby cutting insidethe orbit of Neptune itself. In fact, during the period from 1969 to2009 (covering most of the lifetimes of the younger readers of thisbook) Pluto will not be the ninth planet, but the eighth, for it will beat its closest in those years. Huge Neptune will thus regain temporarilythe title of being the Sun's farthest outpost!
This orbital eccentricity has lead some astronomers to speculate on thepossibility that Pluto may once have been briefly held as a satellite ofNeptune. And following that line of thought, the possibility also hasbeen suggested that Neptune's larger moon, Triton, may once have been acompanion of Pluto which failed to break away from Neptune's grip!
I think that the first men to land on Pluto are going to make some veryastonishing discoveries. But I am also sure that they will never gothere in rockets. They will have to make the immense trip by some morepowerful means--like the anti-gravitational drive.