An Unorthodox World

by Liam Hankins
(United States)

This isn't a world, and yet, it is. It's realistic, but OSS, all the same. Written in 1985, way past the age of OSS, is Larry Niven's Integral Trees. There, he takes us to a world, orbiting a neutron star. But the world isn't a planet, or an asteroid, or a moon. It's air. A ring of air, with both 'forests', of floating plant matter, and 'ponds', of floating globs of water. A gas giant, except it's sad and doesn't feature in the books except in explaining how there's a ring of air in space. But there's another thing, the strongest plant of them all. The Integral Trees. 100 kilometer long trees, one end facing towards the neutron star, and one end, facing out. Their ends are where their branches are, which are pushed opposite of one another, thus, making them look like integral signs.

Humans live in the forests, and on the ends of the trees, where there's enough tidal forces to stand. They came from Earth, but something happened, leaving them stranded in the ring. No advanced civilization can rise, due to there not being metal. Interestingly, in the second book, The Smoke Ring, some of the tribals from the first book find an advanced nation at the gas giant's L4 point. But it's a shame wasn't done more with this. Imagine if the gas giant had trojan asteroids, like our Jupiter! Sky Islands!

This is a big example that the OSS doesn't just have to include the Solar System. Why not have a section on other solar systems, or worlds that aren't worlds? Other worlds are where the imagination goes wild, after all.

{Zendexor comments: Liam reminds me that some time back I gave out a call for someone to start a sister site to this one; see the "Stellar Neighbourhood" page. Although the OSS by definition is a nostalgia site about our own Sun's family of worlds and environments, there is infinite scope to extend the treatment to the rest of the Universe. On the subject of Larry Niven, I regard him as an excellent world-builder; his one fault being (as Liam at one point suggests) that he doesn't always do enough to develop his own scenarios. A good example is "Ringworld", which gives us a huge scene and then just takes us through a relatively tiny transect of it.}

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Sep 12, 2019
Planetary Air-Belts
by: Dylan Jeninga

I've heard of the Integral Trees, but never considered applying the concept to the OSS. One could certainly imagine a Jovian air-belt, or a Saturnian one. Maybe, along a similar vein, Saturn's ring is host to gaseous atmosphere.

Either way, zero-gravity life is bound to be unique and interesting, a boon to any imaginative writer.

{Z: Or you could have a primordial Asteroid Belt in which the planetoids circle within a belt of atmosphere, as do the neighbouring worlds of ERB's Poloda. When close orbital encounters occur, inhabitants of one worldlet might jet or catapult themselves across the gap to another!}

Sep 09, 2019
Stid's Sister Star
by: Liam Hankins

In the Stellar Neighborhood, Stid mentions that traces of the Sun's sisters stars could define it. I'd just like to say that one, possibly two of those stars were found.

{Zendexor comments: I've just followed up this reference. Fascinating! A star now 110 light-years away is believed to have been formed from the same gas cloud as the Sun. That suggests a very wide minimum radius for the Stellar Neighbourhood.}

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