The Ocean-World of Alioth (Synopsis and Fragment)

Clark Ashton Smith



The Alcyone is compelled to land for repairs on a world of Alioth; but this world is almost entirely covered with water. A small isle (or what seems to be such) is finally located; and the space-ship descends. The repairs are almost completed when the apparent isle suddenly ^starts to swim away^ [sinks beneath the water].


The isle is evidently a sea-monster. The crew have all retired to the vessel's interior, when it suddenly sinks beneath the water, leaving the Alcyone (still unfit for space-flight) floating in the ocean. The engines, however, can propel it; and it sails along, looking for land on which it can be beached. It is brought to a halt, however, when another monster gets entangled with the propellers.


While Roverton, Jaspar and Deming are outside the vessel, trying to bear away the body of the monster, which is a sort of Siamese-twin serpent, they are interrupted by some gigantic shell-fish, who capture them and carry them away through a forest of enormous algae to a .strange honeycombed rock, half in and half out of the water, which they inhabit. The shell-fish are beings of a higher order of intelligence, and manifest much curiosity regarding their captives.


The rock is raided by some amphibious beings like swordfish with legs, who slay the shell-fish. During the melee, the men escape to the summit of the rock. Here is a creature like a flying hydra-headed octopus comes along and bears them away in the grip of its tentacles to the shore of the polar continent, which is the sole large area of land in this world. Here they see that the octopus is ridden by a strange being like a sea-horse, which they had taken for part of its complicated body. T hey land in a sort of city inhabited by similar beings.


The sea-horse creatures subject the men to some queer tortures, apparently in the interests of scientific research, to determine their tactile reactions. Rays of extreme cold, and a curious sort of radioactive heat are played upon their bodies, till they are both frost-bitten and painfully blistered. They are also compelled to eat certain foods, which have a violent drug like effect and induce bizarre hallucinations.


The men finally escape, on one of the flying squids which is trained to respond to certain sounds; and they return to search for the Alcyone. They find it beached at low tide on a sort of reef, where Volmar and the remainder of the crew have just completed the necessary repairs; and the voyage through space is now resumed.

The Ocean-World



"We might catch a few fish," suggested Roverton, as he and Captain Volmar peered through the vessel's ports on the water-shrouded world above which they were hovering at a hundred-mile altitude.

The world was the fourth of a system of seven planets that circled the great sun known as Alioth to astronomers. In their approach from outer space, the cosmic voyagers had chosen it for investigation with a view to finding fresh food, either animal, vegetable, or both, since all were tired of tinned and tabloid provisions to the point of nausea. However, as they neared it, the planet was seen to consist entirely of oceans, apart from seemingly barren patches of land at the poles, and a few tiny islands.

"Yes," agreed Volmar, "there should be an abundance of aquatic life. We might as well descend, and let the Alcyone drift for a while in those seas. There are nets, harpoons, and fishing tackle among our stores; and any of you boys who have a taste for angling will be able to try your luck. You'll catch a lot of queer specimens; I dare say, but some of them might be edible."

Roverton, Jasper, Deming, Johns and Allenby, the members of the crew, all hailed the idea with enthusiastic interest. Jasper, who alternated as pilot with Volmar himself, steered the space-flier carefully downward toward the great swimming globe. They were well within the atmospheric envelope, and could now use the in-air propellers. The air itself was heavy, with excessive oxygen, hydrogen and ^helium^ [nitrogen]; and the equatorial realms were surrounded with masses of cloud or vapor. The temperature (end of draft)

^xxx^ xxx was added by Smith.
[xxx] xxx was deleted by Smith.
{September 1930}

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