31 January 2011

Winter Storms

Apparently the world is scheduled to end tomorrow. The local news channels have decreed that a winter storm will be the end of us. So far this winter, there as been only a few thoughts about several snowflakes that all added up to less than a trace of dry, powdery granules that blew easily into the ditches. And they call that winter in Oklahoma. Now there is excitement and enthusiasm by the local meterologists: finally, something worthy of their broadcast time! I hope we get what they say we will get.

It makes me think of the winter conditions on planet Ghoupallesz--of course! In Dream Land I there are flashes of the winter siege of the Tebbicousimankale industrial center of Siaa. Located in an area of mineral deposits, the city has grown to be the largest in the country, despite its harsh winters. As noted in a previous post, the tilt of Ghoupallesz is much less than Earth's, making for more even seasons. In other words, winter is winter longer and there is less variance between the seasons.

And then, in 1533, the winter was particularly harsh. Pushing an army northward at such a time is a recipe for disaster. I thought of Napoleon besieging Moscow. In Siaa we have armies hunkered down in snow banks twenty feet deep, digging tunnels through the snow, under the snow, even while men and Jepe walk on top of the snowpack. A lot of soldiers died, from the flash freezing (crystalization of bare skin) and from loss of body temperature. Think of trench warfare in Antarctica--or the planet Hoth in Star Wars.

And yet, the entire culture of the Zetin is built on the northern harshness. Once residing on the lower peninsula of Tebbicousimankale, as we all remember, the Zetrin were forced northward by the invasion of Danid and Ghoupalle nations. Subsequent conflict forced Zetin to abandon Tebbicousimankale completely and move to the high plateau of Alaun. Though somewhat sheltered from the worst of arctic weather, it nevertheless is a tough place to grow up, and an even tougher place to grow any food crops. Some diapsora went south to the tip of tropical Baeronak rather than north to Alaun, so there is importing of plant food, though it is expensive.

The problems of inventing worlds includes how to deal with temperatures and seasons, and how those factors influence the culture. In a northern culture (or, as it very well may be on some planets, the southern culture!), the lifestyle would need to incorporate behavior that initially was for survival and later developed into customs. For the Zetin people, there are many expressions, say, an insult implying weakness, that uses a reference to the easy life in warmer, more southernly lands. Life must go on, no matter where it exists.

We need to put on woolen socks once in a while to be able to appreciate the tropical beaches!

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