Monday, 16 March 2015

Visualization: Gliese 710, Farsigh and Heterotopia

This is a post about the Dragons Eye story line briefly outlining star system Gleise 710.

I have characterized Gliese 710 as consisting of a small dim star with a planetary system including a large ringed gas giant - called Farsigh.  Around Farsigh is a series of large moons, including a water-world, unnamed in the story, but which I call Heterotopia in my drafts.  

Heterotopia means "no-where" - a phrase coined by the philosopher Michel Foucault to describe a place different from normality. Some consider Heterotopia to be an imaginary place, part way between a utopia and a dystopia. While I delight in the concept, I do not subscribe to postmodernism (I am a realist).  We all have our own Heterotopia.  It may be as simple as the reflection of your face in a mirror - the image you see does not exist. However, for short periods of time, we act as though the image is part of our reality. The closing sequence to the old New Zealand film "Quiet Earth" captured me the first time I saw it and I have never really escaped.  This is my Heterotopia.  I spend a lot of time here - when I close my eyes and sigh, this is where I am.  I have always wanted to try to capture this feeling.  I thank +Ann Pollak  for challenging me to tread down this path (and naming this place in a G+ post in 2014). 

In the story, the similar Heterotopia spins on an axis and rotates around Farsigh. Heterotopia has two bands of trade winds, travelling at a constant speed in the North and the South, in opposite directions. In between, in the equatorial zone, weather patterns are rough. At the poles, ice sheets can form periodically according to rotational movement.  

Heterotopia, like all of the nine worlds, has been open to the movement of micro-organisms and, increasingly, larger creatures and so shares a common genetic history with those worlds. Here life has developed underwater, concentrating around spawning hills which come close to the boundary of water and atmosphere. I envision that some of the life can move for brief periods into the atmosphere to escape predation, and that some predators have followed suit.  Intelligent life - the wraiths - has evolved underwater and, for some time now, have built sky towers for a range of scientific and trading purposes. These sky towers are occasionally lost to the spider-kin, and are occasionally raided by dragon-kin.

I envision the sky towers rising from spawning hills, high into the air, crafted from extruded organic material with a large central flat circular dish, permitting sky-yachts to dock on the edges and with a variety of towers for scientific and perhaps communication purposes stretching into the sky. Where a tower is lost to spider-kin, the spider establish a central node on the circular dish with heavy cables extending to the towers and web structures extending from these.  

Sky-yachts are my attempt to describe a relatively small ubiquitous lighter than air dirigible that can navigate the trade winds with large external sails and, more slowly and at greater risk, move into the equatorial regions. It carries smaller ancillary vessels, including a skimmer with wings used as a remote platform to survey the distance for storms, other craft or platforms - and in some cases, to catch fish.

The world was deliberately chosen to allow me to paint drop-dead beautiful pictures. I have no reason to think that Gliese 710 has a gas giant of the nature I have described - while a possibility, it is probably unlikely, and hence a perfect Heterotopia, "no-where".

Peter Quinton
March 2015

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