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Orbital photo of Serrana, a world-building experiment; a hybrid of Earth and Mars with small, isolated seas and extensive deserts and savanna. Orbital photo of Serrana, a world-building experiment; a hybrid of Earth and Mars with small, isolated seas and extensive deserts and savanna. SERRANA

by Chris Wayan, 2004-6

for Ursula K. Le Guin, Peter Kropotkin, and Emma Goldman


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INTRODUCTION

Serrana's a tribute and an experiment. The tribute's easy to explain. I just reread Ursula Le Guin's classic fable on anarchism, THE DISPOSSESSED. Purely aside from its political and literary merit (both of which have held up quite well since the 1970s--the book made me furious we've settled for so little political progress)... I was also intrigued by Anarres as a world--a planetary type that must be common in the cosmos, but neglected by most exobiologists and science fiction writers.

Picture a hybrid of Mars and Earth--a small world with thin air, cool and dry. Dusty desert plains girdle the globe; shallow seas merely dot the land. Sparse plants in the rainier zones, and seas teeming with fish, but the harsh continental climate's slowed land evolution: a few worms are the only land animals. Geologically, it's old and tired--few mountains and those worn down to rounded hills. No active volcanoes (though there are some quakes). Anarres was clearly based on our view of Mars at the time. A bit warmer, a bit wetter, livable--but just barely.

The book's only map is a sketch without a scale. The text says Red Springs and Abbenay are 2500 miles apart; that'd make the planet no larger than Mercury, maybe as small as Luna! Yet its gravity suggests a bigger world--our hero gets into serious troubles when he goes offworld, but extra weight gives him barely a twinge. Nor would such a small body retain so much air and water. There are other scale-discrepancies between text and map making it clear Anarres is a political fable, not a physical ecology. But ecology is politics! Pushing a world into the background is exactly how people kill it. So... I've rebuilt Anarres in the light of modern planetology. The coastlines match, the lands and seas are recognizably Anarresti, but this new version is larger (diameter: 6000 miles, midway between Earth and Mars), more mountainous and geologically active (as Mars turned out to be), warmer (more volcanic CO2 to trap heat), and with a more evolved flora and fauna--intelligent fauna with their own version of anarchism. No need for a transplanted human civilization from some big-brother world, as in the book. It's Anarres grown up--revised, reborn and renamed:

Welcome to Serrana.
Map of Serrana, a world-building experiment.
The experimental side of Serrana may be obvious by now. It's a challenge to exobiologists like Peter Ward Douglas ("Rare Earth") who claim complex life will only evolve on the few planets almost exactly like ours. Serrana has a multitude of key factors wrong--wrong sun, wrong neighbors (a hot Jupiter), wrong distance, wrong orbit, wrong tilt, wrong size, wrong spin, wrong moons, wrong geology, wrong water content... you can't get much wronger. According to "Rare Earth", worlds like Serrana (let alone Anarres) are hopeless little losers fit only for bacteria.

Tell that to the locals!

Click any region of the map below for photos and a description of the land, climate, flora and fauna (if any! Serrana does work, but not quite as a biosphere--it's a bio-swiss cheese, as patchy as an old man's hair.)

Map of Serrana, a world-building experiment. Click a feature to go there.
TOUR SERRANA! Click a region for a detailed ground-level tour: Aburros Sea - Woble Range - Yanneba Basin and Plano - Mosnoll and Eronit Basins - The Tsud Desert - Eamet Ocean and South Pole - Leas, Niirg, and Narek: The Lesser Seas - The Rakach Plateau and the Northlands

Serrana's homepage - Peoples of Serrana - Culture - Evolution - Gazetteer



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