Hello to you from chilly England, where snow is forecast for tomorrow, and schoolchildren across the county have been readying toboggans and spare gloves over the weekend. Of course, the kids’ excitement at any prospect of snow will seem quaint from people in other parts of our planet who regularly experience far more severe levels of cold. I visited my brother in Ontario, Canada just before Christmas, and even though it was unseasonably mild, I got to sink into powder-dry snowdrifts and look out across the completely frozen Ottawa River.
Extreme winter climates can be beautiful and deadly in equal measure, testing not only the character of those who live there but their ingenuity too. I think that’s why ice planets have been such a popular feature of science fiction since at least the 1930s.
There are plenty of ice planet examples in Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and pretty much every Traveler RPG campaign I used to play when I was a teenager. I think the most celebrated has to be Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, but there’s also Gethen (from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin). Although cold rather than snowy, the planet Telos gives us iconic TV moments in Doctor Who's Tomb of the Cybermen, which my son referenced in his Lego Cloud City he built last year.
Tomb of the Cybermen from 1967.
My son's Lego from 2018.
That’s just a few. I know there are many more. What are your favorite ice planets in science fiction and fantasy? Join the conversation at the Human Legion Facebook page.
These ice worlds were my inspirations for Rho-Torkis, which is the setting for season one of Chimera Company. There being a military aspect to the adventure, I read some accounts of the Alpine Front in the First World War, and Finnish resistance among the tree-lined frozen lakes in their defense against the Soviet invasion of 1939. The combatants displayed bravery and ingenuity in the face of terrible conflict.
As always with me, having started with solid inspiration, once the story telling took hold, Rho-Torkis – with its remote towns of amphibious fisherfolk, and buried relics from an ancient war – became real. Rho-Torkis stopped taking inspiration from Earth and became its own thing.
Season one of Chimera Company is now finished and is being released weekly to Insiders. I began writing the first scene of season two this morning. You can find out more about Chimera Company (including a free prequel story) here. If you want to get involved with the Insider program, you can catch up by going to the 'update your preferences' link at the bottom of this bulletin, and check the box to say you want to be part of the Chimera Company release team, and then wait for the next release. Or you can simply join the Facebook group here.
One of my space opera author friends, Amy DuBoff, has news that might interest you. The first three novels of her Mindspace Saga, featuring devious aliens, characters with superhuman abilities, and military action, was released earlier this month, with a fourth out in February. The first book is 99c/99p at the time of writing, but that could change at any moment, and the whole series is currently in Kindle Unlimited.
I first came across Amy with her Cadicle series a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed that. Since then, we've been in two anthologies together: Crises & Conflicts (2016), which had my Human Legion story Hill 435, and Explorations: Colony (2017) which had a totally standalone story. The core idea of Mindspace Saga previously appeared as the Uprise Saga in the Kutherian Gambit universe, but has been completely rewritten to fit the Cadicle Universe.
Take care and enjoy your reading.