Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Cody Starr, the seventy-fifth Director of The Venusian Terraforming Program, removed his foot-gear and waded into the warm Venusian Ocean on the western shore of New America. The sun very slowly inched its way above the western horizon to begin the long Venusian day (equal to 243 Earth days). Eventually, he thought, we will have to do something to shorten the day to something more reasonable, or more importantly, to shorten these long, cold Venusian nights. But that would be a task for future Directors. Right now, Cody just wanted to bask in the warmth of the abnormally large sun (38% larger than it appears on Earth), and to listen to the rumble of crashing waves. Occasionally, the wind blown spray would reach his lips. How unusual, he thought, a fresh water ocean. That may take getting used to. As the sun rose on this new day, Cody allowed his mind to reflect back on the long journey that brought humanity to this unlikely shoreline…

It was over 1000 years ago that Planetologist Philip Gregory began the construction of The Great Solar Shade. The GSS, which orbited Venus like an opaque cylindrical version of Saturn’s rings, performed three primary functions:

1) It blocked most of the heat being delivered by the swollen sun.

2) It powered the converters that obtained breathable oxygen from Venus’ thick carbon dioxide atmosphere, and finally

3) Over the next eight centuries, it meticulously scooped up the rarified upper atmosphere of Venus, and gradually dissipated it into space in an effort to reduce the overall atmospheric density from 90 to 1.2 times Earth normal.

Then, two centuries ago, Dillon Holder began the process of corralling thousands of ice-asteroids to create Venus’ ocean. It was no easy feat to develop the technique that would shepherd over one billion cubic kilometers of ice from the asteroid belt down to the Venusian surface, while carefully avoiding the GSS on the way.

Just five decades ago, the Solar Shade was changed from opaque to semi-transparent, to gradually permit more sunlight to reach the surface. The Shade was also heavily magnetized to provide shielding from the potentially deadly solar wind, and cosmic rays. The planet was then seeded with a verity of hybrid plants and algae to remove most of the remaining carbon dioxide, and to provide the foundation of the planet’s food chain. Thirty years later, small animals and fish were introduced. Recently, robots began farming, and building the infrastructure that would be needed to support eventual human colonization. But for now, Cody was content to watch the genetically bioengineered birds dive into the ocean to catch the genetically boiengineered fish. Off in the distance, he could see…

“Cody. Cody.” Who could be calling him, he wondered? He turned to look toward the distant dunes. Nobody was there, but he could hear faint traffic sounds: cars, trucks, horns, and sirens.

“Cody. Scott will be here in 10 minutes. Life insurance doesn’t sell itself you know. You’ve got quotas to meet. Let’s go.”

Through his squinted eyes, Cody could see his wife pull back the bedroom curtains, exposing the smog-covered skyline of Los Angeles in the distance. He buried his face in his pillow. “Nooooo.”

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows