Read a sci-fi novel years ago, set on an alien planet that featured a giant statue of a naked human woman lying on the ground. If I remember, the statue was hundreds if not thousands of kilometers long. Possibly her belly button was a lake.

Seem to remember the story started with the protagonist hiking on the statue.

Only other thing I can remember is the protagonist had 11 fingers.

  • what year approx did you read this? do you remember anything of the cover? Jul 31, 2015 at 8:01
  • I remember a short story about a rocket flight to Venus. But Venus is not just a planet, she's so much more! And she doesn't like being landed on, uninvited. It's an uncalled-for intrusion! Anyway, but the crew were ordinary humans with 10 fingers. And I seem to remember it was a Dutch writer, so I don't know if this counts for anything.
    – Mr Lister
    Jul 31, 2015 at 14:59
  • Anyone searching for "11 fingers" may have more luck with "extra finger" or "6 fingers on one hand".
    – user31178
    Aug 1, 2015 at 3:50
  • Maybe the Mother Canada proposed statue. Joking, obvoiusly
    – alphaapple
    Aug 1, 2015 at 5:17

2 Answers 2


Read a sci-fi novel years ago,

Are you sure it was a novel? It sounds a lot like "Goddess in Granite", a novelette by Robert F. Young (first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1957, available at the Internet Archive).

set on an alien planet

Marten found himself thinking of her sculptors, and for the thousandth time he speculated as to why they had sculptured her. In many ways, the problem resembled such Earth enigmas as the Egyptian pyramids, the Sacsahuaman Fortress, and the Baalbek Temple of the Sun. For one thing, it was just as irresolvable, and probably always would be, for the ancient race that had once inhabited Alpha Virginis IX had either died out centuries ago, or had migrated to the stars. In either case, they had left no written records behind them.

(Alpha Virginis = Spica is not really a likely location for an Earth-like planet.)

that featured a giant statue of a naked human woman lying on the ground.

She lay upon her back, her blue lakes of eyes gazing eternally upward. From his vantage point on her forearm, Marten had a good view of the mountains of her breasts. He looked at them contemplatively. They towered perhaps 8,000 feet above the chest-plateau, but, since the plateau itself was a good 10,000 feet above sea level, their true height exceeded 18,000 feet. However, Marten wasn't discouraged. It wasn't the mountains that he wanted.

If I remember, the statue was hundreds if not thousands of kilometers long.

In this story it's not that big:

The southern reaches of the shoulder-slope were less eroded than the central and northern reaches, and Marten edged closer and closer to the south rim. He had a splendid view of the Virgin's left side, and he stared, fascinated, at the magnificent, purple-shadowed escarpment stretching away to the horizon. Five miles from its juncture with the shoulder-slope, it dwindled abruptly to form her waist; three miles farther on, it burgeoned out to form her left hip; then, just before it faded into the lavender distances, it blended into the gigantic curve of her thigh.

Possibly her belly button was a lake.

No mention of her belly button, but her eyes are lakes:

She had begun as a natural phenomenon—an enormous geological upheaval—and actually all her sculptors had done, herculean though their labor had undoubtedly been, was to add the finishing touches and install the automatic subterranean pumping system that, for centuries, had supplied her artificial lakes of eyes with water from the sea.

Seem to remember the story started with the protagonist hiking on the statue.

Yep. The opening paragraph:

When he reached the upper ridge of the forearm, Marten stopped to rest. The climb had not winded him but the chin was still miles away, and he wanted to conserve as much of his strength as possible for the final ascent to the face.

Only other thing I can remember is the protagonist had 11 fingers.

FAIL. Nothing like that in the story.

  • I have the story in The Worlds of Robert F Young, but I can't find any mention of Marten having eleven fingers. Apart from this the story matches pretty well. Jul 31, 2015 at 9:16
  • @JohnRennie Me neither.
    – user14111
    Jul 31, 2015 at 9:21

Gene Wolfe - Peritonitis.

It's a shortish story, not a novel. Otherwise, a close fit.

Once (so said Greylock, my father's mother heard him) the Men of the Neck ruled all the World and were all the world, and there was nothing between Heel and Finger-tip that was not theirs. In those times a virgin might dine at the Calf and drink at the Eyes and sleep where she would and none would harm her.


Others said that the World itself was God; and these, a fierce and a terrible people, climbed to the Face. Then did we name ourselves Men of the Neck, but beyond our boasting we feared--for though the Men of the Loins might drink there of impure waters, we must needs reach the Eyes when we could eat no more without drinking, and we feared that those above us would prevent us.


With others of her age and a guard of men, of whom Deepdelver, then called by another, lesser, name, was one, she journeyed to the Eyes to bathe. Now at that time men no longer went into the haunted Hair to reach the lakes from the north. But not yet were they so bold as to come too near the corners of the Mouth--no, the accepted path, then deemed safe, was to skirt the southernmost spinney of the Hair, near the Ear, and thence to climb to the Eyes by an oblique ascent.

  • 2
    How close? Does the protagonist have 11 fingers?
    – user14111
    Jul 31, 2015 at 11:24
  • No mention of 11 fingers that I can see, and it's the story of a tribe on what might be a body (or might be merely metaphor) over a course of years, not one person hiking.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 31, 2015 at 13:13
  • Can't compare the stories, only read one of them, but for me "Goddess in Granite" is a grabbier title than "Peritonitis". YMMV of course.
    – user14111
    Aug 1, 2015 at 3:19

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