Aug 30, 2014

Rain World

"Death-by-Rain" in Planet Stories
I recently blogged about the mysterious Marta, the mother of my collaborator, Ivory Fersoni. I'm still trying to sort out the biological details of how it was possible for Ivory's clone sister to access information in the Sedronic Domain and so reveal the various Realities of Earth. Here, I report a new discovery about Marta's mother, Lili the Kac'hin.

In 1950 the pulp science fiction magazine Planet Stories published the Ray Bradbury story "Death-by-Rain". Later, when I was in grade school, we had to read "The Illustrated Man" and that was my opportunity to read Bradbury's story about "rain to drown all rains" on the planet Venus (under the altered title "The Long Rain").

Ray Bradbury: the Fantasy Man
I've never understood the era during which many authors imagined that humans could breath and live on Mars and Venus. Apparently Bradbury was a fan of John Carter of Mars, so I suppose it was natural for him to write stories about humans having adventures on Venus and native inhabitants of Mars. I agree with Bradbury who felt that he wrote mostly fantasy, not science fiction.

As someone who had an early interest in horror, we can't be surprised that Bradbury's one science fiction novel (Fahrenheit 451) was a dystopian story motivated by the repressive era of McCarthyism. The claim that Bradbury was ever the "world's greatest living science fiction writer" (as proclaimed on the book cover shown to the right) strikes me as overblown marketing, but through their popularity with school teachers, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles have long been required reading for millions of school children, thus making Bradbury's work at least widely known. I suppose there are many people who have never read another science fiction novel besides Fahrenheit 451.

Bradbury: Immortal short story author
Is it possible that "living" has a special meaning in the case of a great short story writer like Bradbury? Even today, in 2014, The Guardian has an online biography page that says, "Ray Bradbury, now nearly 90....". Maybe Bradbury is truly one of the immortal writers (that's a lame joke; he died in 2012).

Bradbury published "All Summer in a Day" in the March 1954 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In this story, some children on Venus experience a rare and brief pause in the rain. The story was later adapted and retold in video format.

Contrary to Bradbury's fantasies about a rainy Venus, the surface water of Venus was long ago heated, evaporated and blasted off the tops of clouds by solar radiation. Atomic constituents of the broken water molecules that had been generated by photolysis were eventually swept away into space by the solar wind. The clouds of Venus are now mostly sulfur dioxide and contain almost no water. The idea of humans from Earth trudging through rain on Venus or living on its super-heated surface is a true fantasy.

About a decade after it was written, I finally got around to reading the first "Riverworld" novel by Philip José Farmer. An artificial planet with a 20 million mile long river winding its way over the entire surface of the planet provides an imaginative and fun setting for a story based on advanced alien technology that can reincarnate all of the billions of humans who ever lived, placing them together in one time along the banks of a river where they can all interact in a new "second life". Sadly, I quickly became bored with the story and never read the entire series of Riverworld novels and I've never found it possible to sit through the video adaptations that were made.

Jeanne Tripplehorn searches
for an end to Waterworld
Kevin Costner searches Jeanne
I have watched Waterworld. Ug. The setting for Waterworld is an imaginary far future where global warming has melted all of Earth's ice. Is it artistic license to depict post-ice-cap-melt Earth with a sea level that rose 20,000 feet rather than 200?

I've been weaving my own alternate Reality in which Earth must deal with global warming and sea level rise. In the Ekcolir Reality, melting ice caps threaten coastal cities during the mid-20th century. I deal with only 2 feet of sea level rise, not 20,000.

ancient impact crater
In the Exode Trilogy I imagine that the pek are able to carry out sophisticated planetary engineering. For planet Hemmal, the pek engineered the world so that it can support human life and provide a place for pek experiments in how to design a new human variant that will replace we primitive Earthlings. Hemmal is a relatively young planet, only about 2 billion years old.

Whimsical depiction of the pek
obtaining sedrons on Earth (source)
The pek have been visiting Earth for millions of years. One of their favorite planetary engineering methods is to crash asteroids into a planet like Earth. By fracturing the crust, the pek gain access to Earth's supply of sedronic matter. Thomas provides his fictional version this process in his novel, Miners of Earth.

For about half a billion years the pek have been carrying out their planetary engineering and sedron mining projects in our galaxy. In all that time, what types of unusual worlds might the pek have crafted? Strange artificially arranged worlds in the galactic core, just waiting there for Earthlings to discover them...

Some coastal rivers on Rain World.
Rain World
"Rain World" is a planet in the galactic core that has been extensively engineered by the pek for hundreds of millions of years. The planet's surface is about 80% ocean (with polar ice) and 20% land. The land is mostly configured as small tectonic plates aligned so as to have chains of mountains that collect rain from the onshore flow of prevailing winds.

These words written by Jack Vance describe the situation well, "Great banks of cumulus drift in from the sea and break against the central mountains; hundreds of rivers return down broad valleys where fruit and cereals grow so plentifully as to  command no value."

Map of Rain World
On Rain World, each mini-continent is populated either by humans or by a human-like species that originated on another planet in this galaxy. The pek have used Rain World as a kind of laboratory of social dynamics where they can test how different humanoids interact after being put into contact with eachother.

Sometimes aliens from planets with non-Earth-like atmospheres have been brought to Rain World. For example, Rain World is where the compatibility of Fru'wu and humans was first tested. Not surprisingly, the pek "zoo keepers" of Rain World learned that the less physical contact between these two species the better.

Foundation Reality
The second book in the Exode Trilogy, Foundations of Eternity, is built around my fan fiction re-imagining of Isaac Asimov's "all human galaxy", the setting that he used for his Foundation Saga. In the Foundation Reality, Daneel took pains to provide humans with the illusion of an "all human galaxy". In the Buld Reality, when Asimov wrote about the Foundation, he was working from the perspective of Earthlings who had been carefully protected by Daneel from having knowledge of aliens.

How could the ignorant Earthlings of the Foundation Reality fail to understand the implications of an artificial planet like Rain World? In addition to their ability to engineer the tectonic plates and geography of planets, the pek can effortlessly move between the three dimensional universe that we are familiar with and the Hierion Domain. I've previously described Archive Worlds as artificial planets that can hold displaced civilizations. When necessary, the pek can move an entire planet into the Hierion Domain.

Lili was the mother of Marta
In his Demon Princes Saga, Vance depicted the "Rigel Concourse" as an artificial star stem, constructed by an alien race by bringing a swarm of Earth-like planets to a young star. In the Foundation Reality, Rain World was slipped into the Hierion Domain.

Here, in the Buld Reality, the world as we know it, Rain World is waiting in the galactic core for explorers from Earth to find it. I've previously described Lili as a resident of Tar'tron, but she was actually born on Rain World.

2016 update: artificial geology in Alastor Cluster

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