City of the Giant Fungi

Charles Stuart

Bristol, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Sci-fi, chalk pastel (Royal Langnickel “Essentials”) on black paper

The third picture in my story. Further exploration of the gas giant takes the spacecraft to a city inhabited by sentient giant fungi. On the surface, the city looks quite like towns and cities on other worlds. The buildings are made of plant material – there’s very little metal on this planet and that that there is has largely been incorporated into the plants, animals and fungi.

Above the buildings are huge plant-derived vesicles, filled with helium. The amount of helium is regulated to keep the city at the right altitude in the gas giant’s atmosphere. These vesicles are brightly coloured and give the city a sense of fun.

The green circular things are valve doors. To enter a building, a fungus leans against the door and if the property owner wishes to let it in, the release the lock and the door opens like a heart valve because that’s what it was. To leave a building, the fungus just pushes the other way. The doors are made from the heart valves of sail creatures.

Beneath the buildings and roads there is a basement level. This is where the fungi feed. Their food is mainly the faecal matter of herbivores, which are herded up from the plant life altitude and encouraged to defecate in the basement area. The fungi then relax for days at a time in faecal baths but emerge quite clean as they absorb the nutrients through their extendible hyphae. Feeding is done en masse and the resulting compost is returned to the plants below.

Nowhere else in the known galaxy are there intelligent fungi, comprising the main civilization of a planet.

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