Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Life of Oblu

About a month and a half ago, I wrote up a cursory summary of the solar system in which Gavanna finds itself, dwelling particularly on the age of its universe and on Gavanna itself (might be a good idea to refresh yourself on the general cosmological layout of things, if'n you've grown rusty; clickicate here for the post I'm talking about).  In that post, I mentioned that Gavanna is one of a binary pair of planets, orbiting around another life-bearing world, Oblu.  I didn't have much to say about Oblu at the time; I simply posted a picture of the cloud-covered, pseudo-Venusian world, and tossed up the following two paragraphs:

"Unfortunately for sky-scryers, Oblu is not very photogenic from orbit.  This world could best be described as a temperate Venus, a planet that, like Earth's evil twin, is cloaked in a thick, crushing sea of carbon dioxide and suffocated beneath a runaway greenhouse effect.  Unlike Venus, however, Oblu is not heated nearly so intensely by its dimmer stars, and although the pressure at the surface would still crush a human like a walnut under a triphammer (thank you, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!), the temperature is well below Venus' Hadean temperatures, with an average of about 40˚C.  Still too hot for humans or most other multicellular Earth life, of course, but below boiling--and that's what counts.

To really do justice to it, I'd need to do a separate post entirely devoted to Oblu, so I'll leave off with that extremely brief summary, pausing only to leave an exercise for the reader.  For insight into one of Oblu's chief oddities, I recommend looking up the phase diagram of carbon dioxide, the chief component of Oblu's atmosphere, and then...thinking about it, and what I said above, for a bit."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Elu, Paum, and Walls of Text

Some years ago, when I was taking Evolutionary Biology at Warren Wilson College, Gavanna as I had imagined it at the time underwent some very fundamental changes, which have profoundly affected everything I've imagined about it since.  Even its name was different then; I was still calling it "Melune," a name I came up with in high school and that I was always vaguely unhappy with because it felt so derivative (the "-lune" or "-lûn" suffix is just far too common in fantasy for me to be at ease with it*).  Before then, many of the most important characters in my stories already existed, but their way of life was...uncertain to me.  I knew that the civilization on Gavanna was comprised of many different intelligent species, all of roughly the same intelligence and all able to communicate freely with one another, and I knew that their civilization managed to exist without resource wars, environmental degradation, etc.  I'm both a misanthrope and an optimist, so these are traits that one would expect to find in a world created by me.

But how could such a civilization be prevented from embarking on the genocidal, interspecies wars that a human intelligence would certainly wage in their place?  Granting that, how could such a civilization manage to be as fundamentally sane and, well, inhuman as I had imagined it?  Finally, how could this civilization of many different species avoid doing what humans are doing now (and what all life, no matter its level of intelligence, tries to do), and increase its population until the planet was incapable of supporting any more of them--in the process wiping out many other species and ecosystems who were unfortunate enough to be in the way?  I needed a civilization of selfless creatures that didn't reproduce--a tricky proposition, evolutionarily speaking.