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Thread: Best fictional planet

  1. #1
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    Best fictional planet

    Contenders:

    Dune. (More properly known as Arrakis.) Desert planet in the novels of Frank Herbert. Pluses: It's got giant worms, Fremen (Zensunni wanderers), mind-expanding spice and lots of political intrigue, some of it plagiarised from Macchiavelli's The Prince. Minuses: No adequate explanation of how it's got a breathable atmosphere. Apparently the author once made some vague remark about the worms being the cause. Dune was made into a terrible film and a pretty good TV miniseries, with a further miniseries about the first two sequels. Yeah, Gillian will disagree about the film.

    Gethen. (Informally known as Winter.) Ice age planet in a novel and subsequent stories by Ursula K. Leguin (pronounced Luh-gwan, not Luh-gwin). Pluses: The inhabitants go through "kemmer" which is a seasonal change of gender. Minuses: The book spends an awful lot of time concentrating on the rather dull politics and doesn't explore the intriguing gender issues anywhere near as much as you might expect.

    Solaris. Planet covered in a sentient ocean which apparently enables it to remain stable around a double star system. Pluses: When the ocean is subjected to X-ray bombardment, it responds by creating neutrino-based facsimiles of the loved ones of the crew of the orbiting space station. The really weird bit is that the facsimiles believe they are the people they are impersonating, and it is extremely distressing to them to discover they are not. One is so distraught that she drinks liquid oxygen to kill herself, only to discover that however much it might hurt her, it won't actually kill her. Minuses: Some of the descriptions of the geographical features are not very evocative, possibly a failure of translation from the Polish. Filmed three times, and adapted (very successfully) for radio. Of the film versions, the first is not readily available, the second is by Tarkovsky and is the best science fiction ever made, and the third features George Clooney.

    Skaro. Planet of the Daleks, featured in the second ever Doctor Who TV serial, which subsequently turned out to be the Doctor's first adventure in other media: Novelised in a superb children's book called Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks (later renamed Doctor Who and the Daleks for brevity) by David Whitaker, and remade as a film starring Peter Cushing and Roy Castle. Pluses: The early views of the planet, and the Dalek city, are extremely atmospheric, and the Daleks have reasonable motivation - they don't just exterminate everything that moves. For 1963/4, Skaro is a remarkably varied place, compared with the "one location planet" phenomenon that is still prevalent, with a diversity of locations, life forms (including the pacifist Thals) and climate. A "TV Century 21" spinoff comic series explored Dalek history and the planet's geography. Minuses: Subsequent visits reduced the planet to the abode of the ridiculous ranting megalomaniac Davros, who got killed several times only to keep coming back spouting gibberish. It's also rather pitiful that for a space-faring TV series that is still going 50 years on, Skaro is one of a very small number of named planets that were visited by the TARDIS crew and that people can remember.

    Pern. Planet of teleporting, time-travelling dragons in the series of novels by Anne McCaffrey. Pluses: It's got dragons! Minuses: I thought the stories were a bit crap. I got through the first two novels, but really, what the heck? Why would dragons be able to teleport and travel through time? Why did nobody else realise the latter until so late on?

    Gor. Planet 93,000,000 miles from the Sun, but on the other side from Earth. I haven't read any of them, and don't know anybody else who has either except for a friend who died young. Pluses: They offend the more obnoxious, foaming-at-the-mouth feminists. Minuses: they offend everybody else too, including the reasonable feminists. I probably shouldn't have mentioned the books at all.

    Any other contenders?

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    Favorite as in most interesting, or that we would want to live on, or what?

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    First of all, Gor shouldn't be on this list. It isn't interesting either as a planet or as a fictional location. It's only interesting as the window into a college prof's sexual frustrations. Skaro never really got that much development as a planet, except in "Genesis of the Daleks", when it was a ravaged wreck. Gallifrey was always a far more interesting world.

    As for me, my favourite fictional planet is probably Krypton as it appeared in the first two Superman films. I liked how the crystalline motif enabled the filmmakers to seamlessly blend landscape, architecture and technology, so that it was impossible to tell when one ended and the other began, thus seamlessly evoking Clarke's Law that any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.

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    IIRC, Dune had an ecology beyond sandworms. At some point, the latter ended up locking most of the water and biomass up under a desert that expanded to cover the planet, but there was still some surface life.

    How could a list like this leave out Roche and Eau?

    How about the 4 1/2th planet? Mostly interesting due to its location and the method of accessing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Favorite as in most interesting, or that we would want to live on, or what?
    It's up to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    How could a list like this leave out Roche and Eau?
    It's not an exhaustive list, it's a "get people started" list. Can you say a bit about the places in your own words?

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    The Fleet of Worlds (Niven - the Puppeteer planets).

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    Quote Originally Posted by LotusExcelle View Post
    The Fleet of Worlds (Niven - the Puppeteer planets).
    Can you say a bit about the planet in your own words?

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Gallifrey was always a far more interesting world.
    Can you say a bit about the planet in your own words?

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    Pnidleethon

    A place where wizards go to sharpen their dreadful art...

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    Canyon- A former Kzin colony in Larry Niven's known space. It had a tenuous atmosphere, but the use of a disitegrator weapon in the Man-Kzin war created a miles deep canyon that filled with most of the air around the planet creating a liveable environment. People occupy spaces built in the canyon walls and the floor is parkland(IIRC). Pluses? It's a cool way to create a liveable environment.

    Plateau- A planet with a Venus like atmosphere with a huge mountain with a plateau summit that is at the same elevation as the survivable strata in the atmosphere. Pluses, a huge waterfall that plunges many miles down into the dense clouds that cover most of the planets surface.

    World from the Practice Effect- Entropy has been artificially reversed on the planet meaning things wear up not down. You can fashion a primitive stone axe and over time and use turn into a very effective cutting instrument. The same also applies to clothing and the poor walk around in fine clothing they're "practicing" for the wealthy.
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    Harlan's World: Medea. It's a moon, but still it is a well planned world.

    Charon and Epsilon Aurigae's collapsar planet as depicted in The Forever War. For some reason, Charon was it's own planet in that book and not a moon of Pluto. Thinking back, I believe the book was written before the discovery of the moon, but I can't be sure.

    Krikkit - Doctor Who meets Arthur Dent, or more correctly Trillian.

    We Made It - Known Space. I guess I would also want to throw in the Galatic Zoo, but those are habitates, not planets.

    Kithrup - From Startide Rising. Cool water world.
    Solfe, Dominus Maris Pavos.

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    I guess that Barsoom doesn't quailfy, as it's supposed to be Mars, right?

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    Pandora from Avatar is a pretty cool place, shame the movie's story was so old and tired.

    I would like to meet a few more non-single biome planets. Yes, ice and desert planets sort of make sense since not every planet can be smack dab in the habitable zone, but there must be so much more interesting worlds out there? Niven wrote of a few fun ones, selected by AI for sleeping settlers on their ships, that turned out quite "interesting" when people settled on it. Including one that was egg-shaped.


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    Quote Originally Posted by jokergirl View Post
    Pandora from Avatar is a pretty cool place, shame the movie's story was so old and tired.
    There's also Pandora from Frank Herbert's The Jesus Incident that makes the Avatar planet seem fairly tame in comparison.

    - It's 80% ocean with sentient kelp

    - The land surface is hostile with local predators like Hooded Dashers which are like land sharks and Nerve Runners, which follow nerve pathways to their victims brain IIRC.

    - There are also hydrogen filled animals that are the atmospheric analogue of jellyfish, that cause hallucinations to the people they snare in their tentacles.

    Plus all the intrigue between the humans jockeying for power both on the planet and in the giant Ship. Ship which is sentient and able to alter time and space is demanding its crew decide on what form of worship they're going to take in regards to Ship, and creates characters that appear real to the crew and colonists such as Jesus Lewis.

    Herbert was really good at creating hostile environments for people to interact in unique ways. The planet in The Dosadi Experiment was also pretty brutal.
    Last edited by starcanuck64; 2014-Apr-05 at 09:02 PM.
    "Back off man, I'm a Scientist!"- Peter Venkman, PhD in Psychology and Parapsychology

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    I also find Gowachin law interesting in the Dosadi experiment.

    http://aliens.wikia.com/wiki/Gowachin

    Gowachin regard their legal practices as the strongest evidence that they are civilized. Gowachin law is based upon the notion of a healthy disrespect for all laws; the purpose of this notion is to avoid the stulifying accretion of a body of laws and precedents that bind Gowachin mechanically. In a typical Gowachin trial, everything is on trail: every participant, including the judges; every law; even the foundational precept of Gowachin law. Legal concepts from other systems are often turned on their head: someone pronounced "innocent" (guilty in other terms) by the court is torn to pieces by angry spectators; judges may have bias ("if I can decided for my side, I will"), though not prejudice ("I will decide for my side, regardless"); defendant and plaintiff are chosen at the trial by the side bringing the complaint choosing on role or the other; torture is permitted; and all procedural rules may be violated, but only by finding conflict within procedural rules (an example of Nomic). Gowachin law is also illustrative of a dominant theme: that governments, law, and bureaucracy (collectively, society's tools for regulating itself) are dangerous when allowed to escape sapient control.
    "Back off man, I'm a Scientist!"- Peter Venkman, PhD in Psychology and Parapsychology

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Charon and Epsilon Aurigae's collapsar planet as depicted in The Forever War. For some reason, Charon was it's own planet in that book and not a moon of Pluto. Thinking back, I believe the book was written before the discovery of the moon, but I can't be sure.
    Yeah, the actual Charon was discovered two years after the novel was published, plus the novel is really a fix-up of earlier stories.

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    Ursula K LeGuin's twins from The Dispossessed: Anarres and Urras. One is a habitable moon; the other is the primary. The really interesting part of both are their cultures, and how the cultures and political systems evolved.
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2014-Apr-06 at 11:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    Can you say a bit about the planet in your own words?
    Its a fleet of planets in (fast) motion and in a Klemperer rosette formation. There have been some retcons on the layout and reasons for the layout but essentially it is the Puppeteer home planet, a wildlife preserve planet, and 3 food planets. One major retcon is that there was a sixth planet that has since broken away from the other five and (spoiler) has previously enslaved humans on it. Anyway - Niven's world building is pretty detailed and the ins and outs of puppeteer society and technology are neat - especially in the context of 5 planets hurtling through space at astonishing speed.

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    A second vote for Krikkit.

    I know it was in a humorous book, but what a fabulous concept - an entire civilisation that had evolved on a planet where the inhabitants never even contemplated whether they were alone in the universe, because they had no concept of a universe in which to be alone.

    And the mental fracture of those people when they first saw the vastness of the universe within which they now realised they were a most insignificant part (...and their minds sang with fear).

    And their reaction - "It'll have to go" - was wickedly astute by Adams.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    Best fictional planet
    Best for what?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright
    "It is the duty of the writers to seduce me into suspending my disbelief!" Paul Beardsley

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    Naboo. Beautiful cities and wilderness areas, friendly locals, Art Nouveau aesthetic, interesting wildlife (although the underwater fauna make swimming inadvisable.) I'd vacation there!

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    LV-426

    Primordial atmosphere, surreal architecture, free eggs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    Can you say a bit about the planet in your own words?
    A society so ancient they have forgotten most of their own history; so technologically advanced that they had forgotten how most of their technology worked; so conservative they hadn't changed for 10 million years. Ridiculed myths and legends turn out to be scientific facts. A people so intelligent that their entire society is modelled on academic heirarchies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Best for what?
    You tell me. I'm looking to see opinions about planets that made an impression - good or bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    Okay, but what are your thoughts and observations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by starcanuck64 View Post
    World from the Practice Effect- Entropy has been artificially reversed on the planet meaning things wear up not down. You can fashion a primitive stone axe and over time and use turn into a very effective cutting instrument. The same also applies to clothing and the poor walk around in fine clothing they're "practicing" for the wealthy.
    I had heard of The Practice Effect but had no idea it was about that. It sounds fascinating. This is kind of the purpose of the thread.

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    Ix in the Dune universe; it's arguably the second most important planet in the galaxy, but (at least in Herbert's original series) you learn almost nothing about it and its inhabitants beyond their use of "forbidden" technology.

    Props to Solfe's The Forever War reference; that was one of the first hard-SF novels I read, and his description of the first battle always stuck with me.

    I haven't read her novels in years, but I do love Pern.

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