No, it's not something from a science-fiction novel, rather the scientists at NASA think that there's something to be said for going to Venus.
Dale Arney and Chris Jones are two NASA scientists who are breaking from the mould by suggesting that we switch the focus of our attention from trying to get everyone to Mars, and instead head to Venus.
Now, they do admit that there are a few problems, such as the fact that the planet's surface has 92 times the pressure of Earth's atmosphere, and the temperatures can reach a balmy 500°C, which might make things uncomfortable. Y'know, uncomfortable in the way that our bodies would be crushed and then disintegrate in the sheer heat.
However, taking a page from Lando Calrissian's book, they think we should settle in floating cities above the planet's surface in the skies of Venus, which are a bit more habitable and, apparently, hospitable to human exploration missions, not to mention that it's closer too.
Using an airship, which they have named the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept, or Havoc, they think a mission to Venus would be a good idea because 50km above the surface in the atmosphere, the conditions are pretty similar to Earth: the pressure is about the same as it is here, the gravity is only slightly lower than Earth's and it's better shielded from radiation than Mars is.
Speaking to IEEE Spectrum, Arney and Jones suggest that this could be used as a dry run for a full scale mission to Mars. Since it's closer, they envisage sending a robotic airship (which would be solar-powered, of course) to do the first run, before a fully-manned mission takes place, and allows for new technologies to be developed to help ease the process of colonising another planet: "It’s a chance to do a practice run, if you will, of going to Mars".
As of yet, they haven't come across any problems with the fact that men are from Mars women while women are from Venus, but initial plans suggest that they will cross that bridge when they come to it.
Via The Verge