Fomalhaut in fiction


Fomalhaut traditionally represents the mouth of the "fish", referring to its position in its constellation, Piscis Austrinus, "the southern fish"

Fomalhaut (α Piscis Austrini) is a class A star on the main sequence approximately 25 light-years (7.7 pc) from the Sun. It is the brightest star in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus and at magnitude 1.2 is one of the brightest stars in the sky.

Fomalhaut has a flare star companion called TW Piscis Austrini and a fainter red dwarf companion designated LP 876-10 or simply Fomalhaut C. There are several debris disks around the primary star as well as a proposed planet Fomalhaut b (also named Dagon).


  • "The Trail of Cthulhu" (1944), short story (also published as "The House on Curwen Street") by August Derleth, and other stories of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Fomalhaut is the home of the god Cthugha, who resembles a giant ball of fire.
  • Pebble in the Sky (1950), novel by Isaac Asimov. Joseph Schwartz of Chicago is transported by a stray beam of radiation to the Earth of the far future, which is part of a galactic empire ruled from the planet Trantor. Finding himself in a wild countryside, he searches far and wide for help until he stumbles upon a cottage—only he can't understand the dwellers, nor they him. One of them theorizes, "He must come from some far-off corner of the Galaxy ... They say the men of Fomalhaut have to learn practically a new language to be understood at the Emperor's court on Trantor."[1] Asimov would later substantially abandon using any real star names at all in the empire.[2]
  • Dorsai! (1960), first novel (also published as The Genetic General) in the unfinished Childe Cycle by Gordon R. Dickson. Dorsai (Fomalhaut III) is the homeworld of the Dorsai who, inhabiting a resource-poor world, hire themselves out as mercenaries to other planetary governments. The novel follows the meteoric military career of the Dorsai protagonist and warrior extraordinaire, Donal Graeme.
  • Return from the Stars (1961), Polish language novel (Powrót z gwiazd) by Stanislaw Lem. The novel tells the story of the astronaut Hal Bregg, who returns to Earth after a 127-year mission to Fomalhaut. Due to time dilation the mission has lasted only 10 years for him, but on Earth he faces culture shock as he finds human society transformed into a utopia free of wars or violence, or even accidents.
  • Star King (1964), "Demon Princes" novel by Jack Vance. Over drinks, protagonist Kirth Gersen is explaining to lovely Pallis Atwrode the origin of the humanoid race of Star Kings. One theory has it that the same vanished race who "left ruins on the Fomalhaut planets" kidnapped a tribe of Neanderthals long ago and removed them to the Star Kings' homeworld Ghnarumen, there to serve as an experimental evolutionary template for the highly adaptable but still rudimentary native life forms.[3]
  • "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" (1964), short story by Cordwainer Smith. The planet Fomalhaut III is the site of the martyrdom of D'Joan (D' indicating an underperson derived from Dog stock, while simultaneously alluding to Jeanne D'Arc [Joan of Arc] [4]), an event that "makes the worlds reel": It sparks an interstellar civil rights movement across the planets governed by the Instrumentality of Mankind.[5] The tale's exotic planetary setting glows with an air of complexity and antiquity, enhanced by Smith's own Chinese-influenced use of a fabulist's voice, that together lend an unforgettably haunting mood to its theme of sacrifice and redemption. Although broadly right-wing in his politics, Cordwainer Smith was deeply sympathetic to the liberation struggles of his fictional underpeople, as indeed he was with the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.[6]
  • "Semley's Necklace" (1964), short story by Ursula K. Le Guin set on Fomalhaut II, and subsequently used as a prologue to the novel Rocannon's World (see next item in this section).
  • Rocannon's World (1966), novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. The novel is set on the second planet of Fomalhaut, Rokanan. This planet is home to two species and four subspecies of sentient creatures of varying technology levels. Rokanan was Rocannon's name among the native Gdemiar.
  • The Unteleported Man (1966), novel (later republished as Lies, Inc.), by Philip K. Dick. A new teleportation technology makes travel by spaceship redundant. A "paradise" colony planet in the Fomalhaut system, Whale's Mouth (see graphic), is the destination for forty million colonists escaping from the drab existence of Earth's urban anthills, but it is a one way trip—no teleportation back to Earth is possible.
  • The Zero Stone (1968), novel by Andre Norton. The protagonist Mordoc Jern of this novel identifies his animal companion as a phwat from Fomalhaut.
  • The Forever War (1974), novel written by Joe Haldeman. Fomalhaut is mentioned as a destination for colonists during the beginning of the war with the taurans.
  • The War Games of Zelos (1975), novel by Richard Avery. Zelos is the fifth planet of Fomalhaut. It was colonized in the year 2078.[citation needed]
  • Children of Dune (1976), novel in the Dune universe by Frank Herbert. When Paul Atreides' son Leto is forcibly injected with spice essence, and undergoes the spice trance, he dreams peering through narrow windows in time-space and marveling at ancient kernels of wisdom. Among the subjects of his inner exploration is the planetary system of Fomalhaut.
  • The Divine Invasion (1981), novel written by Philip K. Dick. The Fomalhaut system is the location of a galactic communications hub.
  • Radio Free Albemuth (1985), novel written by Philip K. Dick in 1976. In this alternate history, a resistance movement against a despotic US president is organized with radio broadcasts from a mysterious alien satellite by VALIS, an omnipotent being (or network) from the Fomalhaut system.
  • "Chains of Air, Web of Aether" (1987), short story written by Philip K. Dick. The Fomalhaut system is the location of a galactic communications hub.
  • Diaspora (1997), novel by Greg Egan. The Diaspora in the novel consists of a collection of one thousand exact digital copies of the C-Z polis (city state), deployed toward stars in all directions hoping to improve humankind's understanding of the physics behind an unpredicted gamma ray burst that wiped out most of Earth's inhabitants. Fomalhaut is one of the target stars, and the novel follows the expedition there.
Artist's impression of Fomalhaut b and a debris disk
  • In The Mouth of the Whale (2012), novel by Paul J. McAuley telling a tale of "the quick and the dead". Fomalhaut was first colonized by the posthuman Quick, who established an archipelago of thistledown cities and edenic worldlets within the star's vast dust belt (see graphic). The Quick were conquered by a band of ruthless unreconstructed humans calling themselves the True. Now the Ghosts, a posthuman cult from Beta Hydri, threaten a third conquest. At issue is the mysterious metallic hydrogen core of Fomalhaut's ancient gas giant planet, which each race claims as a salvation with its own idiosyncratic vision (compare Philip K. Dick's use of the planet name Whale's Mouth for a paradise planet of the Fomalhaut system in Fomalhaut: The Unteleported Man, 1966, above).
  • Frontlines Series (2013-), novels by Marko Kloos. The system contains a very cold but still habitable exomoon called New Svalbard, which hosts a small colony of several thousand people. It is a recurring setting throughout the Frontlines series until its invasion by the alien Lankies, the series' primary antagonists.


  • FTL:2448 (1982–1990), role-playing game designed by Richard Tucholka and published by Tri Tac Games. Alvarez Station, a large space station and a major game asset, orbits the fifth planet, America, in the Fomalhaut system.
  • Battlelords of the 23rd Century (1990–1998), role-playing game designed by Lawrence R. Sims and published by Optimus Design Systems. There are many alien races in the Battlelords universe, but twelve are presented in the basic rulebook and form the basis for the Galactic Alliance. One of these is the race of Chatilian Empaths from Fomalhaut.
  • Frontier: Elite II (1993) and Frontier: First Encounters (1995), computer games written by David Braben et al. The Fomalhaut system is home to an agricultural colony planet that grows food crops and exports them to other worlds. To prevent food chain pollution, no kind of manufacturing is permitted on this world.
  • Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos (2001), video game developed by Particle Systems and published by Infogrames. Fomalhaut has been colonized by humans and is the first accessible star system in the Gagarin cluster, by virtue of possessing a jump accelerator linked to Santa Romera in the Badlands cluster. It is also, therefore, the best-defended star system and last to fall against the alien invasion.
  • Escape Velocity Nova (2002), computer game developed and published by Ambrosia Software. The Fomalhaut System is a minor trade hub featuring the inhabited worlds Gem and Snowmelt.

See also


  1. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1971). Pebble in the Sky. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications. p. 21.
  2. ^ Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1993). "Asimov, Isaac". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St Martin's Griffin. pp. 55–60. ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
  3. ^ Vance, Jack (2005). Star King. 22. Multiple editors. Oakland, California: The Vance Integral Edition. p. 122. ISBN 0-9712375-1-4.
  4. ^ Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1993). "Mythology". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St Martin's Griffin. p. 851. ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
  5. ^ Smith, Cordwainer (1993). The Rediscovery of Man. Farmingham, MA: NESFA Press. p. 228. ISBN 0-915368-56-0.
  6. ^ Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1993). "Smith, Cordwainer". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St Martin's Griffin. pp. 1121–1122. ISBN 0-312-13486-X.