I’m going through the setting of Spacebuckler planet by planet, and this week we’ll linger on Venus for a bit, because it’s more than just a hot and humid jungle. Indeed, if the late 18th century London broadsheets are any indicator, the entire planet is a hive of scheming Spaniards, savage Venusians and pirates of all stripes.
And yet despite the papers’ tendency to stretch the truth…they’re pretty close to the truth when it comes to the Green Planet. After the Pinzon expedition discovered the aurora pathways into the Void and first landed on the Moon in 1492, the Spaniards quickly set their sights on Venus. There, they laid claim to the entire planet — an impossible task given its size, nearly as large as Earth itself, and its trackless jungles.
Then there were the Venusians.
These diminutive lizard-men, all scales and frills and hardened beaks, lived in conditions far more savage than any on Earth, and yet they were a highly spiritual people, surprisingly adept with their limited alchemy and the natural poisons of the Venusian flora and fauna. But the Spaniards had ships, gunpowder and High Alchemy, and they were twice as strong and large, physically. The Venusians never had a chance. Spain soon began a program of conquest and slavery, turning many of the tribes’ coastal lands into huge plantations.
Today, in 1779, much of Venus remains unexplored. More than a hundred different tribes have been catalogued by the Spanish and the few English and French settlers allowed on the planet. Most of these tribes were engaged in constant battle prior to Mankind’s arrival, and today some of the tribes trade their vanquished cousins in exchange for their own freedom from the slavers. The major Spanish settlements do brisk business in foodstuffs, lumber and slaves, along with the occasional hoard of gold and silver mined from the faraway mountains, and a smaller but no less brisk market exists for esoteric Venusian herbs and animals, rare items that have allowed for major breakthroughs in the science of Alchemy.
Even with the wealth of the Spanish Crown at its disposal, the colonists actually control a small fraction of Venus. The English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and even some of the Scandinavian nations have outposts on the planet, well away from Spain’s bustling harbors and hidden in the near-perpetual fog that enshrowds the planet. (Indeed, a clear sky is worrisome on Venus, as it’s a sure sign that a major storm is about to blow in.) And there are numerous pirate dens as well; the pirates can not only prey on Venus’ shipping, but can easily make the journey back to Earth or lie in wait off Mercury as well.
And the interior of the landmasses are still uncharted and poorly mapped from above. Thousands, perhaps millions, of Venusians are thought to dwell in these massive jungles. A few hardy adventurers claim to have trekked into the darkest heart of the planet, and tell tall tales at the haciendas upon their return. There are massive lizards, they say, nesting in the roots of the far off mountains. The Venusians deep in the jungles can weave strange, powerful magics from their earthy alchemy. And the ruins found deep in the jungles, they say, are old — very old — and could not have been wrought by the primitves.
Which means they came from somewhere else, made by others’ hands. But whose?