Walkin’ on the Sun
If you were able to look at the surface of the sun, you would expect to see nothing but a great ball of fire. Certainly, you wouldn’t expect to see the Sunlings receiving a special delivery of Xmahanukwanzyule gifts from Space Truckin’ Tony and his best pal Pony Trekker.
The Sunlings never used to be able to participate in the big interplanetary holiday because the sun is extremely hot at 15 million degrees Celsius or 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. But thanks to Space Truckin’ Tony and Pony Trekker, the Sunlings can now join in the fun.
Space Truckin’ Tony is a busy interplanetary delivery driver. During the Thirteen Days of Xmahanukwanzyule, things are busier than ever, but Tony knows that with Pony Trekker’s help, he can always get the job done.
Pony Trekker is a magical horse from the Pegasus Constellation. She helped Tony out of a terrible jam when his old spaceship was hit by an asteroid, leaving him stranded near Chi Pegasi. Pony Trekker not only towed Tony’s ship to the nearest spaceport, but she also helped him deliver his cargo. She made him a magic spacesuit so he could be safe on any world including the sun.
When Tony bought a new spaceship, he made sure there was plenty of room for Pony Trekker to come in and rest if she got tired of flying. Pony Trekker sprinkled stardust from a million stars and moon dust from a billion moons on the spaceship so it could land on any moon or planet and on stars too.
The Sunlings look like flares and flashes and shimmers and sparks. They are warm and friendly, and they always compliment Tony on his wonderful spacesuit. Pony Trekker doesn’t need to wear a special suit because her magic protects her.
Do you wonder what kind of gifts Sunlings like?
They enjoy molten ore and melting minerals and whiffs of flammable gas melding together to create a special holiday light show.
Tony and Pony Trekker enjoy a warm and wonderful celebration with the Sunlings before it’s time to move on to Mercury, the number one planet in the solar system.
When you look at Mercury through a telescope, you probably wouldn’t imagine that it’s a fun place to visit. Mercury is the small, rocky planet closest to the sun. You won’t see a lot of activity on the surface, but when you go below, you’ll meet the Rock Lobsters.
The Rock Lobsters love mining for minerals. They craft useful items from the minerals that are in demand all over the Universe. They also love eating rock candy.
You might suppose that the Rock Lobsters would need sugar and big pots to make their rock candy, but they don’t. They mine it from the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Different flavors of rock candy come from different places in the mountain, and the supply renews every day.
Some of the rock candy tastes like things that Pony Trekker and Tony enjoy, such as sugar beets and carrot cake. The other rocks taste like iron shavings and mine tailings. Pony Trekker and Tony aren’t so keen for those, but the Rock Lobsters certainly love them.
A Lot of Luck on Venus
The Venusians are a bubbly lot that glide through their planet’s thick atmosphere on light, gossamer wings. Their bones are hollow like a bird’s. They enjoy playing games, so every year Tony collects new games from all over the Universe to share with them.
Tony likes playing cards while Pony Trekker enjoys physical challenges. She races the Venusians both on the ground and in the air. She also enjoys bobbing for effervescent Venusian apples.
Tony and Pony Trekker always have a lot of luck on Venus and look forward to their yearly visit.
Down to Earth
Earth is Tony’s home. The first time Pony Trekker visited Earth she was impressed with all the wonderful creatures that she met. It made her sad to learn that the future of certain animals and plants is uncertain because some people don’t take care of the planet.
Pony Trekker thinks that the best gift that people can give the Earth all year long is to find less wasteful ways to do things. Everyone can work to generate less waste as well as working together to clean up garbage both on land and in the water.
Doing the Moon Shot
All the planets in the solar system besides Mercury and Venus have moons. Earth only has one moon. Earth’s moon is symmetrical and shines brightly in the sky on clear nights. Pony Trekker loves flying to the moon almost as much as she loves visiting it.
Pony Trekker is an expert at getting to the moon quickly, so she always leads the way. She swoops and glides through space on paths that only she can see, and Tony follows her in his spaceship. It’s a wild ride, but it’s a lot of fun.
The Lunar Sprites are always thrilled to see Pony Trekker and Tony. They like to ride on Pony Trekker’s back, and they like to comb her mane and decorate it with pretty beads.
The Lunar Sprites enjoy making jewelry from moon rocks. Tony takes the jewelry to give as gifts to the residents of the other worlds. Pony Trekker and Tony enjoy moonbeam cookies and a cup of moonflower tea before they head for Mars.
Having a Ball on Mars
The Martians are a varied lot.
Many of them are humanoid.
Some Martians are tall and stately and wear regal robes and fancy crowns. They like to throw fancy dress balls.
Some Martians are short and squat and enjoy bouncing and rolling like balls along the canyons and canals.
Some Martians look like big red brains with big black eyes and lots of tentacles. They enjoy building machines so they can explore the galaxy.
When Tony and Pony Trekker go to Mars, they always visit the big-brain Martians to see what they’ve been working on.
They then go visit the short, squat, bouncy lot to play in the canyons and canals. A few big-brain Martians often join in and test-drive their newest machines.
Later, Tony and Pony Trekker go to a fancy-dress ball thrown by the regal Martians.
The exuberant round Martians bounce to the left and to the right while the big-brain Martians skitter about and sample the food.
By the end of the evening, the Martians and their guests are all dancing the Time Warp.
Tony and Pony Trekker always wish that they could stay longer, but they have a schedule to keep.
The Jovial Giants
The jovial Jovians are always happy for a visit from Tony and Pony Trekker. They like to play music and dance and sing. The weather on Jupiter is always stormy, but Pony Trekker is protected by her magic, and Tony is protected by his spacesuit.
The smallest Jovians are as tall as trees and the largest are as tall as mountains. They have flexible, buoyant bodies that allow them to bounce along through Jupiter’s wild storms. They live in bouncy castles and enjoy the surprise of waking up in a new place every day, for the Jovian winds like to pick up the castles and bounce them far away.
Jupiter has 79 moons, so there are always visitors of all sizes and shapes visiting the stormy gas giant.
The acrobatic Ionians have boneless, flexible bodies that bend this way and that. They have red and white stripes like candy canes and can adapt to almost any temperature. They can stretch their bodies into kite shapes so the winds will blow them to the top of Io’s volcanoes where they can go for a swim or a sail.
The residents of Europa look like stretchy icicles. They have long, flat feet that help them slide along the icy surface of their planet.
The gang from Ganymede look like amphibious ankylosaurs. Their tough, red hide protects them from the harsh conditions of their world. They eat rocks from the surface of their world and tunnel through the ice to dine on the plankton-like plants in their oceans.
The residents of Calisto look like sparkly giant birds. Their hide is flexible and tough and covered in metallic feathers. They build their nests high on the ice cliffs of the Jovian moon.
The residents of Jupiter and its moons look different from each other, but that doesn’t stop them from being friends.
Space Truckin’ to Saturn
Saturn is metal to its core. Its residents love heavy metal, and they play it loud. The planet beloved for its beautiful rings is even windier than Jupiter. All the buildings on Saturn are made of flexible, resilient metal and are designed to slide wherever the wind takes them. Although the structures sometimes go topsy-turvy, Saturnian technology ensures that everything inside the building rights itself quickly.
Saturn’s residents resemble octopi and squid with their eight tentacles and buoyant bodies. Many of them play multiple instruments. Some enjoy being sound engineers and lighting technicians. Others enjoy cooking and serving food.
Visitors are always welcome on Saturn. Friends from the world’s 82 moons often drop by. Things are certainly busy when the annual Xmahanukwanzyule celebration rolls around and everyone is always pleased when Tony and Pony Trekker pay a visit.
The Cool Cats of Uranus
After headbanging on Saturn, it’s good to chill out with some blues and jazz played by the Cool Cats of Uranus.
These cats may look a bit scary at first. They are about the size of a sheep and their mouths, which are filled with sharp teeth, are surrounded by tentacles.
Some cats are black, some cats are blue, and some cats are green. But these cats don’t have fur. Their rubbery bodies are covered with thousands of tiny tentacles.
Cats from Uranus have red legs and webbed feet that may look funny, but their feet allow them to slip and slide on the icy surface of Uranus without falling. They have retractable claws at the ends of their webbed toes so they can stop themselves from sliding when they wish. They have big ears that can pick up on the softest sounds, even when the music is loud.
Cats from Uranus look kind of freaky, but they are freaky cool. They love taking requests and keeping the party going all night long. At the North Pole, the nights are 21 years long, so Tony and Pony Trekker need to leave before the night is through.
Windy Nights on Neptune
Beautiful blue Neptune is a cold and windy world. Powerful, resilient craft patrol the surface and skies, working with the intense winds to reach their destinations.
The Neptunians who dwell on the surface are flexible folk whose bodies whip this way and that way in the wild winds. Those who dwell beneath the ice are fabulously clever fish and flexible-bodied merfolk who build marvelous structures from ice and rock. Their creations blend in with the landscape.
Neptune has fourteen moons, and the fascinating creatures that live there love to come and join the party when Tony and Pony Trekker arrive. Pony Trekker’s magic keeps her safe in Neptune’s wild winds and under the icy seas while Tony’s protective suit allows him to participate in the festivities on this wild and windy world.
Party on Pluto
Pluto is a well-known dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system. It is more than three million kilometers or five million miles from the sun. Being so dark, you wouldn’t think it would be a good place to visit, but Pluto’s residents wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Most people would expect a remote planet like Pluto to be dull and gloomy. But Pluto has blue skies and glorious mountains, and five moons. Pluto and its biggest moon, Charon, orbit one another as though they are dancing.
Pluto’s small, red, rocky-bodied residents mostly dwell on and around the tiny planet’s giant, heart-shaped glacier made from red snow, which is the size of Texas and Oklahoma put together. When you realize that Pluto is smaller than Earth’s moon, you can imagine how much of this little world the huge glacier takes up.
Pluto is a very cold place, but its residents are warm-hearted. They love to welcome space travelers like Tony and Pony Trekker.
When you love what you do, every day is a holiday, and the residents of Pluto love to work together with the residents of the moons to keep their beautiful world happy and healthy.
On and Beyond
A day on Pluto lasts as long as six Earth days, but Tony and Pony Trekker don’t always stay that long. They also want to visit the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. The Kuiper Belt contains comets and large, icy objects, including the dwarf planets Ceres, Eres, Haumea, and Makemake. Some of these dwarf planets have their own moons, and the egg-shaped world Haumea has a ring.
The Oort Cloud lies on the edge of our solar system, surrounding it like a bubble. It is home to many comets and billions of other objects. It’s always fun to find a comet that’s heading towards the sun and ride it in.
Perhaps if you are ever looking at a comet through your telescope, you may see Tony and Pony Trekker hitching a ride to Earth. They enjoy watching all the wonderful worlds in our solar system as the comet flies by.
From the Author
I hope that you enjoyed this fanciful story. Scientists have learned a lot about our solar system over the years, but there is still much more to learn. Perhaps you would like to become an astronomer or astrophysicist and help make new discoveries about the Universe. Or perhaps you would enjoy creating creatures of your own that might be able to dwell on the other worlds in our solar system. I hope that you will write about them and draw pictures of them.
Humans can’t live on the other planets in our solar system, so it’s necessary to take care of the one world that we have. You might want to become a scientist studying the environment or researching new ways to help our planet, such as creating biodegradable plastics or renewable energy sources. Even if you aren’t a scientist, you can help the planet in small ways such as using a reusable water bottle rather than disposable, single-use bottles and by recycling and using items made of recycled plastic or biodegradable materials.
In 1977 when I was twelve years old, I decided to make an illustrated book showing what creatures on other worlds in our solar system would look like. Unfortunately, I only ended up with the chapter about the inhabitants of Mercury.
I was compelled by a recent Reedsy story challenge prompt to revisit my long-ago project. This version has a bit of a cheeky spin to it. I dedicate it to my younger self and to every kid with a vivid imagination. Please don’t ever lose that wonderful quality!
Perhaps now that I’m on disability I should pull out my colored pencils once again and illustrate this story.
I was having a horrible week when I wrote this. It needs polishing. I am aware that it isn’t “winner” material. I only submitted it to keep myself in the game as I have been considering quitting writing altogether. My psyche is a bit fragile right now.
The story is suitable for children, but I don’t necessarily think that it’s strictly a “children’s story.” I like to think that people of any age could read and enjoy it and that perhaps it could boost someone’s spirits if they are feeling bad. I hope it will inspire people to learn more about our solar system and to take care of the planet that we live on.
Space Truckin’ is a song appearing on Deep Purple’s 1972 album “Machine Head.” It was written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, and Ian Paice. Space Truckin’ Tony is my original character. Pony Trekker is a character mentioned in the song.
Walkin’ on the Sun is a song appearing on Smashmouth’s 1997 album “Fush Yu Mang.” It was written by Greg Camp.
The song Mercury Blues was originally called Mercury Boogie. It was written in 1948 by K.C. Douglas and Robert Geddins and initially recorded by K.C. Douglas.
Rock Lobster is a song appearing on the eponymous B-52’s 1978 debut album. It was written by Fred Schneider and Ricky Wilson.
Big Rock Candy Mountain is a folk song that was first recorded by Harry McClintock in 1928. There are numerous versions of the song, some of which are not appropriate for younger audiences.
The regal Martians are a homage to Ray Bradbury, referencing his Martian Chronicles. Their appearance was inspired by the 1980 television miniseries inspired by the books.
The Brain Martians are a homage to H.G. Wells, referring to the creatures in his famous story, The War of the Worlds.
The Martians bouncing to the left and to the right is a reference to the AC/DC song “Big Balls” from their 1976 album “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
The Time Warp is a reference to the dance sequence in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Per the page on the Yog-Sothoth site, “Cats from Uranus appear in Mythic Iceland as "Fingals", and otherwise seem to be an invention of Chaosium, appearing in Sandy Petersen's Field Guide to Creatures of the Dreamlands.
Information on the Solar System and planets
Write a story that begins in the light and ends in darkness, or the other way around.