Homo Infernal

Resian IV is a harsh and brutal world.  It freezes at night and cooks during the day, both of which last nearly four months.  The native flora and fauna are hostile to human life.  Its gravity is nearly twice that of most other colonized worlds.  It was used as a prison planet and military training and testing facility.

Then contact was lost.  Resian was left with no ships capable of interstellar travel.  For the first year, the abandoned held out hope that relief would come.  After that, hard decisions were made.

The military personnel and the surviving prisoners banded together for survival.  When it became clear help would not come, the society segregated along gender lines.  The comparatively few women moved into the caves and tunnels that had housed the prison and research facility, while the men went to the surface to find food.

Due to Resian’s nature and the lack of medical care, pregnancy and childbirth took a toll on the female population.  At first, maternal mortality rates were one in five.  For this reason, breeding became strictly controlled.  As time passed, breeding rights became something the men had to compete to earn, ensuring only the strongest and best passed on their genes.

Culturally, they are tribal.  They have no use for weakness. Due to the harsh realities of their world, they have no stigmata against cannibalism.  Those who could not provide became provisions.  What little government it has is matriarchal, ruled by a council of women that have survived into old age.  They function as teachers and protectors of the young with their focus being on providing the children with the training they need to survive the brutal world.  At sixteen, males go to the surface, and females join the breeding program.

This artificially enforced evolution combined with the slightly higher mutation rate forged the population of Resian into a subspecies of human.  They are still fertile with homo sapiens, should they choose, yet have marked differences.  Their vision is more acute, allowing them to also see into the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums, and they have enhanced night vision.  They are extremely strong and hardy, capable of withstanding greater environmental extremes.

When Resian was rediscovered, first contact did not go well.  This lead the explorers to dub Resian an hell planet occupied by the infernal.  Despite the best efforts of level-headed scholars, the name ‘homo infernal’ stuck.

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Yet Another Map

I’m still not quite satisfied with my maps, so I’m trying something else.  Still not happy.

This map is not being used for any of my stories, so if you want it, feel free to use it.   Just let me know in the comments if you do.

12.26-Map

Vendiroth

Vendiroth is a hell planet, one that can barely be described as habitable by human standards.   It is the moon of a gas giant, one located within close enough to the sun to be a hot Jupiter.  Thus, it’s seasons are eclectic.  Being close to the sun, it is normally hot.  It’s own axial tilt means that there are no true ‘seasons’, only night and day.   The area in full day is hot to the point that standing in direct sunlight is quickly fatal.  However, the reflection of light from it’s host planet means that even at ‘night’ it is rarely truly dark.   Only during the brief time in which it is obscured by the host planet does it ever truly get dark, and this winter drops the entire planet into brutal cold.

It is not a colony world, at least, not intentionally.  In the years before the cataclysm, Vendiroth served two purposes.  There was a prison, used to incarcerate some of the worst the universe had to offer.   It was said that summary execution was preferable to imprisonment on Vendiroth.

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Creating a Language

In my upcoming novel, the dominant race in that section of the galaxy is not human, and as such, does not speak any human languages.  They are, however, similar to humans in many ways.

Their language can be spoken by humans, though not all human languages can be spoken by this species.   Thus, in developing their alphabet, I started with the sounds in the English language (as it is the only language I can speak with anything approaching fluency).  Then I decided to remove all velar and glottal sounds.  The dominant race simply doesn’t pronounce sounds that far back in their throat.  Thus, no k, g, h, or ng.   That leaves us with – p, b, t, d, f, v, s, z, sh, zh, ch, j, w, r, l, y, m, and n.

However, as some of you know, I’ve been struggling to learn French.  French is a very vowel-heavy language, to the point I am fairly confident they only use consonants for decorative purposes.  And trying to pronounce it or even understand it in its spoken form is proving to be very difficult for this native English speaker.  So, vowels.  And wow, there are a lot more of them than you might think.

Now, here, we have an issue.  See, English uses most of these sounds, but represents them with only five symbols.  Sometimes diacritic or tonal marks are added to help you figure out how it is pronounced, but sometimes you have to figure it out from what letter it is next to.  And sometimes, English just says fuck you, and you’ve got to figure it out from the context of the sentence.  Examples – read and read.  English sucks that way.  You’ve also got rode and road, and other such wonderful bits of nonsense.

IPA, I love you, but this is my first time, so let’s be gentle.  I’m going with the standard AEIOU then combining them to make other sounds.  And I’m kicking out O.  Sorry, O.  It’s nothing personal, it’s just for flavor purposes I feel like I should get rid of at least one section of that vowel nightmare.  Alright, our sound chart looks like:

Consonants
Labial Labio-dental Alveolar Aveolar-palatal Velar Glottal
Stops p,b t,d k, g
Fricatives f, v s, z sh, zh h
Affricates ch, j
Approximants w r, l y
Nasals m n ng
Vowels A E I O U

I will also, just for shits and giggles, add a dental click.  The dental click will not, however, be used as a typical letter.  Rather, it will be used to make distinctions.  Add a dental click to a phrase, and the phrase becomes inquisitive.  Basically, this species pronounces its question marks.

Now, I have my sounds.  My building blocks.  Now the question is, how do I put them together?  How do I build my syllables?  English offers a lot of options.  (s)+(C)+(r,l,w,y)+(V)+V+(C)+(C)+(C).  That’s because English likes to kidnap words from other languages, and then mistreat them horribly.

Our dominant species, however, is much more ‘civilized’.  They’ve been monolingual for centuries, and have eliminated many of those mutated and redundant words from their mainstream vocabulary.  I’m not going to restrict it as far as Japanese does, as Japanese only allows (C)(y)V(V)(n).  Which is why Japanese words end on vowels or ‘n’s.  I’ll start with (C)(C)V(V)(C)(C), and add a note that VV by itself is not allowed.  Then I’ll toss in a rare occasional word that doesn’t fit that restriction.  That leaves me still close enough to English that I’m not going to create a language I can’t speak.  It does, however, eliminate words like beaux and bureau, which incidentally are words English stole from French.  Sorry, France.  I’ll draw more inspiration from you next time.

Bringal System

The Bringal system is unusual.  Unusual enough that some suspect the system to have been manufactured in some way.

A massive gas giant orbits near the sun, known as a ‘hot Jupiter’.  This itself isn’t what makes the system unusual.  The first thing that makes the system unusual is that the gas giant is inhabited.  The inhabitants, known colloquially as ‘star whales’ are massive, semi-draconic life forms.  Little is known about them save that they are clearly of high intelligence and appear to have several life stages.  During at least one of their life stages, they are capable of not just surviving but actively thriving in vacuum.  From time to time ships encounter them swimming in the far reaches of space.

It is possible Bringal is not their home system, but merely a colony.  If that is the case, then their origins are entirely unknown.  They are, however, not the only odd thing about the Bringal system.  The gas giant itself hosts no fewer than four inhabitable moons.  Additionally, on the other edge of the habitable zone are two more habitable planets, with the smaller one orbiting the larger.

Furthermore, examination of the life forms found on these planets would indicate that they are not native to the system themselves.  It is theorized that for reasons of their own, the star whales built the system and used it to house life forms collected from other worlds.  Some think that the Bringal system is the star whale equivalent of a zoo, while others think that the star whales may have been collecting species that would otherwise have died out or been destroyed.

Thus far, the star whales have not shown overt signs of hostility.  However, if threatened, they have proved capable of destroying warships with very little effort.  They seem willing to allow ships into the system as long as the ships do not engage in hostility themselves.  As such, the Bringal system serves as an effective neutral zone.  Unfortunately, it also serves pirates as a safe haven, though it is worth noting that particularly vicious pirates that try to use the system as a refuge often simply vanish.  Perhaps the star whales handle the matter themselves?

Photoshop: Back into Space

Being that my upcoming NaNoWriMo project is science fiction, I decided to head back into outer space for a while.  This time, I went with this tutorial.

My results?

I have to say, that is probably the best nebula I’ve created thus far.  Not overly pleased with the lens flare, but eh, good enough and easily adjustable.  I didn’t use the texture provided in the tutorial, as it didn’t suit the desert planet look I was going for.  This will be the world of Laatstehoop, one of the lost human colonies.  The Dutch pilot who managed the barely controlled landing of the colony ship on this world dubbed it their ‘final hope’.

A Habitable, Terrestrial World

The dominant race is going to arise with the S-type star system I created earlier.   The planet in question will be a bit larger than Earth, and possess a higher but still human-tolerable gravity.  It’s less dense than earth, however, which implies that it either has less iron or more water / ice in its makeup.

It will be orbiting the primary star of the system, and as I calculated earlier, it will be orbiting a star 1.2 times the mass of ours at 1.59 AU.  That puts it at the fifth rock from the sun, assuming I decide to use all the orbits.

Property Calculation Full Calculation Unit
Radius 1.49 9,492.790 Kilometers
Mass 3 1.792E+25 Kilograms
Gravity 1.351 13.252 Meters/Second^2
Density 0.907 4.671 Grams/Centimeter^3
Escape Velocity 1.419 15.892 Kilometers/Second
Circumference 9.362 59,644.959 Kilometers
Surface Area 27.899 1.13E+09 Kilometers^2
Volume 13.856 3.58E+12 Kilometers^3

As you can see, that 50% increase in the planet’s radius gave us a much bigger surface to work with than is possessed by Earth, even if we do dedicate a lot of that to oceans.

All we know about the planet at this point is that it’s big and wet.  Yay?  However, we can extrapolate a few things.  This is the home planet of our dominant race, thus it will have possessed resources sufficient to have developed a space-faring culture.  The world will be very highly developed, perhaps at this point in its history it is getting low on natural resources and must import.  Or perhaps the culture upon it strives to preserve its homeworld, and thus conducts most of dirty industry on bases on the neighboring planets or its moon.

Speaking of which, since this is a stable, habitable planet, it needs a moon.  Rings would be cool, but rings make heading into space difficult.  A single large moon will be sufficient.  However, I’m going to make this moon different from Earth’s by messing with its makeup a bit.  It has a solid iron core, but much like it’s planet, it also has a lot of water for a moon.  Thus, it is actually slightly less dense than its host.

Composition Percent Density Calculation Unit
Silicate Rock 70% 3.25               2.28 g/cm^3
Water Ice 12% 0.93               0.11 g/cm^3
Iron 18% 7.87               1.42 g/cm^3
Total               3.80 g/cm^3

For the record, the moon has about 70% the density of Earth, and the planet about 90%.   It’s a good sized moon, bigger than our own and possessing a higher gravity.  As the moon does have a lot of water, it will also look different in the sky.  It may even have a bit of atmosphere.

Property Calculation Unit
Mass 0.020 Earth Mass
Radius 0.300 Earth Radius
Gravity 0.222

Time to figure out the orbit of our moon.   We need the sun’s mass (1.21 solar masses) and the planet’s mass (3 earth masses) as well as the semi-major axis of the planet’s orbit (1.59 AU).  With those numbers, we can calculate the Hill Sphere and the Roche Limit.  Drop in on Artifexian if you need an explanation for those numbers.

Hill Sphere 505.72
Roche Limit 2.25

So the moon must orbit between 2.25 and 505.72 planetary radii from the planet.  I’ll also need to know the inclination and the eccentricity.   I want the orbit fairly circular, so I’m going with a low eccentricity.  Since I also want the moon to stay near the equator, I’m going with a small incline.  Yes, boring.

Orbit 112 Earth Radius
Inclination 2 Degrees
Eccentricity 0.002
Orbital Period 40.11

However, this gives us fairly close to a nice, even, 40 day orbit.  Perhaps 40 is a superstitious number then, to this race.  I’m going to do some work on the planet’s orbit while I’m here.  I am leaving out some data because it isn’t as important and is somewhat arbitrary.

Property Calculation Value Notes
Mass 3.00 Solar Mass (in Solar Masses)
Semi-Major Axis 1.59
Eccentricity 0.03
Orbital Period 1.16 422.50 Earth days
Orbital Velocity 1.37 40.91 kilometers/second
Inclination 0.02
Axial Tilt 20.00
Tropic 20.00
Arctic 70.00

The eccentricity makes the orbit around the sun closer to the circular side, and the low axial tilt also serves to make the planet’s seasons stable.  These guys have it pretty good.

S-Type Binary Star System

A P-type binary star system has two stars that orbit close to each other, and the system orbits around that.  An S-type system, on the other hand, is two stars that orbit at some distance from each other, and thus may each have their own system.  I’m going to place such a system in my world, each with it’s own set of planets.

Unlike in the P-type system, where you calculate the stars as though they were one entity, in the S-type you treat them separately.  Thus, my results:

Primary Star Secondary Star
Property Calculation Calculation
Mass 1.21 0.75
Luminosity 1.95 0.37
Diameter 0.90 0.56
Surface Temperature 1.10 0.86
Lifetime 0.62 2.05
Distance to Barycenter 153.06 246.94
Eccentricity 0.40 0.50
Maximum Separation from Barycenter 560.00 600.00
Minimum Separation from Barycenter 240.00 200.00
System
Maximum Separation 1,160.00
Minimum Separation 440.00
Inner Limit 0.12 0.08
Outer Limit 48.40 30.00
Frost Line 6.77 2.93
Habitable Zone 1.40 0.60
Minimum Habitable Zone 1.33 0.57
Maximum Habitable Zone 1.91 0.83
Forbidden Zone Edge 146.67

The forbidden zone edge is important.  The outer limits of each system need to fall well inside the forbidden zone to prevent the stars from interfering in each other’s system.  Looks like we are good there, with stars still close enough to be significant in each other’s sky.

We can then lay out the first system like so:

Primary System Orbit In Kilometers
Orbit 1 0.17 24928024.98
Orbit 2 0.29 44122604.21
Orbit 3 0.58 86921530.29
Orbit 4 0.86 128643864.8
Habitable Planet 1.59 237991149.9
Orbit 6 2.37 354606813.4
Orbit 7 4.53 677299013.6
Biggest Gas Giant 7.38 1103997392
Orbit 9 12.32 1843675645
Orbit 10 17.87 2673329685
Orbit 11 29.49 4410993980
Orbit 12 47.18 7057590369

And the second system as:

Secondary System Orbit In Kilometers
Orbit 1 0.10 14766732.9
Orbit 2 0.14 21559430.04
Orbit 3 0.20 30614390.66
Orbit 4 0.39 59085773.97
Habitable Planet 0.72 108126966.4
Orbit 6 1.08 161109179.9
Orbit 7 1.76 262607963.2
Biggest Gas Giant 2.93 438555298.6
Orbit 9 5.39 806941749.3
Orbit 10 8.20 1226551459
Orbit 11 16.15 2416306374
Orbit 12 25.36 3793601008

This system is actually going to form the core of the worlds controlled by the dominant system race.  While humans will exist in this setting, they will not be the dominant race and will, in fact, not be native to this section of the galaxy.  The dominant race originated on the habitable planet in the primary system, and later spread through that system and into the secondary system, where they encountered the much less developed race on the habitable planet there and promptly enslaved them.

P-Type Binary Star System

One of the systems in this little section of the universe will be a binary star system.  Why?  Because it’s cool.  Do I need really need more reason than that?  However, this does affect the calculations a bit, and there are now several other factors to consider.  The two suns combine to give off more light, and also interact with each other to create gravitational fluctuations.  There will also be the cultural considerations having twin suns will mean for the inhabitants of this system.

Again, I’m using Artifexian to provide inspiration. (more…)

Creating the Universe

There is a science fiction story that has been kicking around in my head for a while.  I’ve created a rough outline, but I’d like to get some of the science part right.  Now, it’s possible none of this will actually be referenced in the book, but having it on hand helps keep me from making dumb mistakes like two planets being too close together, or a planet being outside the habitable zone, so on and so forth.  I intend to set several stories within this universe, thus it behooves me to make it as accurate as possible.  Plus, this gives me something to focus on right now and I kind of need that.

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Uhses

The people of Uhses tend to be on the smaller side, averaging 5’4” for men.  They have dark hair and dark, slanted eyes, and their skin has golden undertones.

Uhses itself is lushly forested, almost a jungle.  It is poor in metal recourses, but there is sufficient stone that the people of Uhses have built graceful cities inside the forests, often cultivating the trees to serve as living bridges and walkways within the structures.
Silk originates in Uhses, and is traded to Sahit or the Ilael.  The people of Uhses are quite welcoming to the Ilael, as most of their trade goes through them and they make each other quite wealthy.

They have a complex religion, believing that their gods from time to time take mortal form or provide a divine touch to mortal agents.  Displeasing these individuals can result in an entire family being cursed with bad luck for generations, and the reverse is also true.  Thus the people of Uhses are generally very polite to strangers.  They do not practice sacred hospitality exactly, they are just very welcoming and generous to guests.  And, as a side bonus, it means they get to hear news and stories from their guests, and guests are expected to provide at least one good tale to repay their hosts.  It is also fairly customary for guests to provide assistance, and a lot of the Uhses economy seems to revolve around cooking a huge meal and then having your neighbors come over to help fix a roof or slaughter the pigs.

Though they do trade and have a monetary system, most of their economy runs on a barter system.  They take care of their elders, and the elders in turn take over the responsibility of teaching the children their lore and stories.

Ritual and tribal tattoos are common, and their tattoos tell stories.  Those who have committed crimes have their sins forcibly tattooed upon them to serve as warnings to others.  In practice, this often functions as effective exile.

Those that dwell along the coast are fishermen, and they do venture out into the deeper parts of the ocean to go whaling.  Typically though, they leave the trade to the Ilael, as few of the Uhsi speak any language but their own or that of Sahit.  Their written language is written as slashes upon a line, and is often written spiraling outward or carved round and round upon a stick.  They often carve lines of poetry into their spears and walking sticks.

Sahit

The desert badlands of Sahit exist as neighbors to the lush greenery of Uhses, but the nations are surprisingly cordial to each other.  Most cities in Sahit are centered around an oasis, and there are areas of surprisingly green beauty hidden among the wastes.

By necessity, they practice sacred hospitality and it is nigh absolute.  If you are a guest, you are treated as family until you leave.  However, once you leave, then it can quite easily be open season upon you, and the Sahit have a lot of creatively painful ways of dealing with their enemies.  If nothing else, they can always just take them out to the desert and leave them several days out stark naked with no supplies.

Sahit’s deserts range from shifting sands to volcanic glass.  Most would consider such a place completely inhospitable if not fatal.  And within, the Sahit thrive.  They can be a harsh and unforgiving people, much like their land, but they can also be steadfast, loyal, and generous friends, also much like their land.

Poetry and art are well valued in Sahit, and story-tellers are prized.  Nomads travel from oasis to oasis, bringing trade and news, and are warmly welcomed.  Those that violate sacred hospitality are dealt with swiftly and harshly.  Most crime in Sahit carries with it the threat of brutal reprisal, as there are simply not enough resources to tolerate such behavior.  Steal a man’s water or horse, and you condemn him to death.  The most mild punishment for theft is the removal of a hand.  Wasting water is a crime, and fouling water is punished via death by slow torture.

They are fairly dark skinned, and dress in long, flowing robes and scarves to protect them from the sun and the common sand storms.

Their common exports are porcelain and glass, and they are known for their beautiful pottery.  Due to the volcanoes in the southern part of their country, they also export gemstones.  Despite their harsh land, they are a fairly self-reliant people and mostly important things that interest them rather than necessities.  The Ilael vary what they bring in to Sahit, but have learned they can rarely go wrong with luxury items like books, honey, items made from rarer woods, and spices.

Religion in Sahit is monotheistic.  Their god is called Sah, and they pay homage to him daily.  An offering of food is made at each meal, often the choicest pieces, and their religion governs most of their daily lives.  Their king is a hereditary monarch that also serves as the head of their religion, though they do not consider their king to be divine.

They have their own written and spoken languages, and few among them speak the ‘common tongue’ due to how rarely they interact with people other than the Ilael and the Uhses, both of whom speak Sahit when dealing with them.