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Questions I have thought of concerning the story.

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Q.  Each of the chapter titles has at least two applications within the chapter.  How many can you find?  How many applications of those titles can you find in other chapters?




Chapter 1


Q.  What were the exact month, date and day of week when Discoveries begins?


Q.  Urgency aside, how could Venture have saved money by having Mike travel to the interview by shuttle?


Chapter 2


Q.  What other byproducts would be given off by the ion-jet engines?


Q.  Isoke used three variations in reference to his ethnicity.  Mike used a fourth term.  What do the differences signify?  (Hint: Isoke used a similar reference to another people group.)


Chapter 3


Q.  Why do many Ethnic Americans return to the reservation?


Chapter 4


Q.  Why couldn’t Theodore Fredericks go with the Venture expedition?


Q.  John Travers did not mention a third and perhaps primary purpose to the overview presentation in the auditorium.  What was that purpose, and why didn’t he mention it?


Q.  The crawler had two triple bunks.  There were nine pairs of lockers.  Why were there twelve suit hatches instead of eighteen?  Why only 16 crew?


Q.  What were some similarities and differences between Samantha and Hazel Wallingford?


Q.  Where else might the photographer have taken the video of the second Eagle takeoff?  What would be the benefits of that position?


Chapter 5


Q.  Explain how the Serendipity could slow down while under power heading out from its orbit around Earth.


Q.  How many sections comprised the Serendipity?


Q.  How much did Mike weigh?


Q.  Why did Venture deny access to the reporters at the Base Camp perimeter?  What were the potential benefits of letting them in?  What were the advantages and disadvantages of holding a press conference later, instead?


Q.  Why didn’t John tell Ellen that he had asked Mike to have the crew come up with a name for the crawler?


Chapter 6


Q.  If both a pressure suit and its occupant were using oxygen from the same tank, why were the hydrogen and oxygen tanks present in equal quantities?


Q.  Do you think the trainees started their first pressure-suit lesson with the suits lying down or standing in access frames?  Why or why not?


Q.  If the planet-acquisition maneuver would place a greater stress on the docking rails than mid-course corrections, why limit the latter to minimum thrust?


Chapter 7


Q.  Who said, “Let’s get inside”?  Explain your reasoning.


Q.  In Mike’s dream, why did he think he had a better chance than Ellen of flying the ferry?


Q.  Why was the base station named Tantalus?


Chapter 9


Q.  If the ferry led the rescue group, why did it land last?


Chapter 11


Q.  The author hints at a definition for the word “catharsis.”  What meaning can you assign to the term, based on the implied definition and the context in which the word is used?


Q.  Why couldn’t an electrostatic shield be used with the tunnel entrances?


Q.  Was Ellen’s unspoken comment unfair?  What did she leave out?


Chapter 12


Q.  What knowledge acquired about the atmosphere of Venus since 1978 would be different from the description at the start of the chapter?  How would these changes affect the story?


Q.  Why did the helium-supply pilot wait until just before landing to inflate the upper fuselage?


Chapter 13


Q.  What social conventions would Mike or Ellen think might adversely affect their relationship?


Q.  What genetic and psychological diseases have resulted from ethnic isolationism?


Chapter 14


Q.  What major difference would exist between the fibers composing the tarps and those collected under the edge of the tarps?


Q.  In what way(s) was helping Ellen test the microscope oven doubly Mike’s job?  Which one(s) weren’t, if any?  Which one(s) was he aware of?


Chapter 15


Q.  Why did Mizhban make multiple references to consulting the people, when later consultations are with the Council?


Q.  Could there be more than one explanation for the Venusians’ appearing to breathe in more than they breathed out?


Chapter 16


Q.  Why did Gabvig thump the ground after using the term “Crack in the Sky”?


Q.  Was Chee older or younger than Maria?  State your reason(s).


Q.  Given the Navajo aversion to dead human bodies and their formerly personal property, why would Maria have worn Fred’s pressure suit?  Why would Maria have been given Fred’s suit?


Q.  If the post was regarded by the natives as a clan shrine, why did Gabvig take the knife in trade for the gezden?


Chapter 17


Q.  Why not just ask the native delegation to move to the next tunnel, the one not leading to an airlock?


Q.  How many times more efficient was the new pressure-chamber insulation?


Chapter 18


Q.  How would you have persuaded Zedvol concerning the shape of the world?


Q.  Why might not the humans have learned from the Clan Mizhban about the traders?


Chapter 19


Q.  To what extent were Vundol’s conclusions driven by culture, that is, interpretation influenced by what was anticipated to be seen?


Chapter 20


Q.  Why were there gaps in the fences?  Why were the gaps in the valleys?


Q.  What were the patterns in Sally’s two piano sequences?  How long would it take the combined sequences to repeat?  Explain your reasoning.  (Careful!  The answer depends on your interpretation of the description.)


Q.  What were Anton’s actual reasons for not wanting anyone to fall over at the Zezmulite meeting?


Chapter 21


Q.  Derive formulas for determining the statistics learned about the native gathering.


Q.  What would be the advantages and disadvantages of having the Venusians enter the pressure chambers at ground level?


Q.  Why not have the jeeps follow the packed-down crawler prints for better traction?


Q.  Why didn’t the flight crew pitch the Finback over backward to avoid having the sun shine into any of the pressure-chamber viewports?


Q.  Why didn’t Zedvol voice the observations concerning the ship-to-ship transfer?


Q.  Who, after all, could have thought this up?


Q.  Why powerful?  Why insecure?


Q.  What color could the humans not see?


Q.  What caused the pale, blue flames coming from the stern of the Finback?  What propellant was likely being used?  How does the second answer restrict the first?


Chapter 21 & 11


Q.  Compare and contrast disbelief in the discovery of life on Venus with the discovery of a religious belief system identical to one on Earth.


Chapter 23


Q.  What could have delayed calling the jeep fleet to transport the wounded natives?


Q.  What environmental factor would aid sympathetic vibration between native sinuses and vocal diaphragms?


Q.  What pressure changes did the natives encounter frequently?


Q.  The natives have a two-layer tympanic membrane as an outer ear.  How could the tunneling dravnid have gotten into Gezmun’s inner ear?


Q.  Why would Anton want to add on to an existing airlock instead of installing a fifth one?


Q.  Does the evidence suggest that more natives were coming to the dome for healing or for restaurant food?


Q.  Why did the cafe counter face away from the tables?


Chapter 24


Q.  Ellen didn’t want to influence Mike’s decision to stay on Venus.  To what extent do you think Mike’s decision influenced hers?


Q.  Why was Gezmun’s body no longer rigid by the time the bearers reached the jeep?  (It could not have taken very long for the human bearers to walk up the tunnel ramp).


Q.  Compare and contrast the emotional states of Charlie and Donat after their traumatic experiences.


Q.  Could Survey Three’s warning message have been shortened to improve the chances of its being understood?  If so, how?


Q.  Where else might the photographer have taken the video of the second Eagle takeoff?  What would have been the benefits of that position?


Q.  How would Alma have known what actions would make Ed think she was trying to avoid seeming ill?


Q.  How could Anton have known what Benmab had time for when Benmab did not?


Q.  What kind of little boxes were the humans pushing about?  What specific type?


Q.  Why did Mike want to tell Joe to Marry Alice?  What might the passage suggest about Alice’s family?


Q.  How were things changing around?


Q.  What do chiefs have to do?  Why?


Q.  Describe the scene of the communications group on the monitor in human terms.


Q.  What is ironic about Mike’s reflection on what he would be remembered for?  In what way(s) was he mistaken?


Q.  What group could intimidate women, according to Alma’s hypothesis, that neither Alma nor Ed mentioned?


Chapter 25


Q.  Fill in the start of Anton’s sentence concerning skids on the pressure chambers.


Q.  What conclusions might aliens draw upon landing in the central Sahara concerning life on Earth?


Q.  Who else was on board the Finback when Zedvol and Vundol returned from orbit?


Q.  What does the cooling process chosen for the pressure chambers say about the capacity of the refrigeration units in relationship to the insulation?


Q.  Did Ellen go directly to the garden upon arising?  Explain.  What might she have been doing in the meantime?



Q.  In Discoveries, Chapter 16, what was Thor’s misunderstanding of Gabvig’s use of “dhazh’ ” and the accompanying gesture?  What did Gabvig really mean, and how did the pronunciation and gesture fit the overall pattern?




Chapter 4


Q.  From what airport did Isoke leave Africa?


Boat People




Shoulders of Giants




The Almost
















The Last Revolt














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