ich fühle luft von anderen planeten

In this week’s Friday Five, Dan asked:

You’ve been sent out to scout for potential colony worlds. It turns out that Earth-like bodies (whether full planets or moons) are surprisingly common, or at least easy to access given the Super-Ion Warpification Doodad. Plus, terraforming has become remarkably easy given the real success of our own Project Genesis. (See this Wikipedia entry for Star Trek reference.) So, most or all of the practical issues of selecting a world (e.g. nitrogen oxygen atmosphere, water, etc.) have been rendered moot. All that’s left is aesthetics. What five things are you looking for in your new colony worlds?

And I used to think my F5 questions were huge in scope.

Okay, the first thing I’d be looking for would be a pretty uniformly moderate climate. I don’t know whether we could actually achieve something like that on Earth, given the kind of size we’re dealing with. I would imagine the bigger a planet, the more climatic extremes we’re going to be dealing with. Me, I’d be looking for the place that allowed us to tune the temperature so that temperate zones would actually truly be temperate: not broiling hot in summer and freezing in winter, but instead just kind of temperate all year round, with perhaps tunable colder and warmer snaps or even cycles, but nothing as extreme as what we’re used to. I’m not sure a smaller planet would be more controllable in this respect, but I’m sure there would be characteristics that would allow for this, and those would be top on my list. Perhaps that’s only because it’s a hot summer day in awfully-humid Korea as I write this.

The second thing I’d look for is a world with just a little less gravity than Earth. Not a lot less, just a little; enough to make getting up out of bed and walking places a little easier for those of us over the age of 30. It’d be nice to be able to actually high-jump, and I think it’d be easy on our somewhat ramshackle body design, such as it is.

The third thing I’d be looking for would be an abundance of natural resources usable in basic life; I would like to have economic independence on my planet, as well as enough spare resources to fuel a restart to civilization if galactic society were ever to collapse. But I also would like the world to be full of amazing natural dyes, plants with fibers usable in wonderful unheard-of fabrics, and so on. I’d love this world to be comfortable in the way that, once you settle into it, everything becomes your own, and your life is really intertwined with the planet’s.

The fourth thing is purely and solely aesthetic, and it’s about sunsets. I miss the brilliant, fiery sunsets I used to see in Saskatchewan, where the whole sky was lit with color. Sunset in Korea is sometimes pretty, but often over all too soon and oftener still clogged away by the haze in the air. I’d want some haze—that’s what makes sunsets beautiful—but also big skies and lots of empty spaces.

The last thing I’d want would be an ocean capable of sustaining life familiar to us. It’d make our own lives so much easier and happier. Even if wine from grapes grown in the soil of that other world tasted odd; even if strange creatures lurked in those oceans; even if the world were so very different in ways we’d be uncovering for centuries, I should think the sight and sound of the ocean would help us keep something we’re still carrying within us from aeons ago. It’s perhaps a poetical thought, but I’d want oceans that were, at least a little, like those we left behind on Earth.

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