Torenhoog en mijlen breed
A gripping science-fiction novel about the first human colony on Venus, written by a born storyteller
Science fiction from 1969 – does it still stand up? Anyone reading The Forests of Venus would have to conclude that it does. Tonke Dragt foresaw many developments, and her futuristic account of life on Venus remains a convincing and captivating read.
In The Forests of Venus (Torenhoog en mijlen breed) Dragt sketches the Earth as one big city without any trees. Humans venture out to explore Venus from inside the safety of a large dome. This book tells the story of Edu, a young planetary researcher on his second expedition to Venus. While there are no forests left on Earth in Edu’s day, on Venus they are stunning and unspoilt: ‘Scaly trunks leading up to huge serrated leaves, pink, orange, yellow… And between them suddenly trees that were darker, from purple to black; they looked as if they were made of smoke, with feathered crowns.’
Edu is drawn to these mysterious, dangerous forests, but they are out of bounds to researchers. Defying the rules, he makes a spectacular discovery: there is life on the planet. He finds intelligent beings, the Afroini, who can read thoughts – and he finds that he has much in common with them.
Although the book is unquestionably a gem of science fiction, full of high-tech airships and robots, it addresses real dilemmas, about daring to go off the beaten track and about humankind’s relationship with nature. The book was published in the year of Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, when space travel and research into other planets were still in their infancy. Government control and the loss of privacy are described in a credible and incisive way, providing food for thought. The Forests of Venus is a thrilling adventure, partly inspired by Dragt’s childhood in Indonesia, and it takes the reader to fascinating new worlds.