We believe that the majority of Uranian humans live in
cities. This is no doubt due to the dangerous
planetary environment which encourages city life for reasons of
mutual defence. However, millions of Uranians do live in isolated
The great cities
- the ones which naturally come to mind when we think of the stories that
come from that world - are the mighty disc-on-stem structures which date
from the early part of the Phosphorus Era. Their like could not be
built today; they were constructed using power looted from
, another dimension, in a
brief window of opportunity before the extradimensional tap was turned off by the
indignant beings at the other end.
cities' basic structure is of ultimate metal
, immune to the ravages of time. There are 25 disc-on-stem cities
altogether. The list is as follows:
Ao, Grard, Hoog, Ierax, Innb, Invun, Jaax, Jador,
Juxxt, Linnt, Lysyon, Narar, Nemyurur, Nuvium, Oso, Pjourth, Skyyon,
Toolv, Tva, Vlamanor, Vyanth, Xydur, Yaz, Yoad,
Each of them presents a stupendous sight to the
wayfarer who approaches them across the plain. "A huge tray piled
high with lights and held aloft by a stem" - the tray being a circle miles
in width and the concave curved stem fifty yards high - the entire
structure is perpetually coruscating with brilliance and movement as
streams of skimmers rise and fall, entering and exiting via the three
air-streams or ayashou spaced at 120 degrees round the rim.
This is the basic description; there are minor variations (Skyyon, for
instance, is unique in having two discs, a larger, lower one and
an upper, smaller).
The cities of Oirr, the region close to the
ancient "Sun-Egg" and to the Great Wall, are even older than the
disc-on-stems, and were built by means which could be reproduced today,
though it would take many eras to create structures which could vie with
them. These cities - Arn, Vus, Soolm and the first and greatest
of them, Contahl - look like semi-ovoid lattices standing up on end.
Their height exceeds all other cities except Skyyon.
Starward hemisphere, in the depths of Fyaym, stand cities which grew
around the now-defunct "freightshuttle exits" or matter-transmitter
destinations, which date from the Phosphorus Era when the wealth and power
of Syoom led its people to suppose that they
might come near to mastering both hemispheres of the giant
planet. These cities - Deev, Karth, Koar, Nusun, Olhoav and Poleva - were designed piecemeal
as they grew, and lack the unified structure of
the disc-on-stems or the more ancient cities of Oirr. The freightshuttle exits
have managed to hang on to existence in isolation, visited very
occasionally when one of the Syoomean cities decides to undertake the
enormous expense of a temporary reactivation of
the matter-transmission network.
Likewise lurking deep in Fyaym, but without even
the tenuous contact with Syoom which the freightshuttle exits enjoy, lies
the "Other Syoom", long undiscovered, and ruled by the two cities, Yalar
Finally, near the Starward ("South") pole lies the
fabled city of Allv.
Other settlements exist - both on the plains and
in the mountains and forests of Ooranye - but they cannot be called
cities. Yet two other cities on the planet do exist. One is
the newest of all the cities of Ooranye, though still ancient by Earth
standards: Yr, "city of mists", which is mobile, and usually camouflaged
so as to be invisible. The other is Vlonn, the Rubble City, whose
government allows access at most times yet will not let it be included on
any map, and can, at need, manipulate space so as to prevent it being
Many of the settlements in the Mountains of Flame
consist of areas honeycombed with inhabited caves and caverns; others are
villages lying openly in the valleys between the huge peaks.