section will deal with:
Size and area.
Sphericity. Surface area.
Day/night cycle. What the sky looks
two hemispheres of Ooranye.
The interior of
The ice mantle.
and the mountains.
The gralm. Groves and
forests. The narps. The monolines.
The Mountains of Flame. The seas.
Stability. The Great
Winter. The Foam.
Ooranye is 25,011 miles in diameter. Consequently,
Ooranye's surface area, most of which is land, is 1,965,223,665 square
miles - about ten times that of Earth, and over thirty times the
land area of Earth.
Note: Ooranye is a perfect
sphere (unlike the Earth whose polar diameter is 27 miles less than its
Earth scientists are puzzled as to why Ooranye's axial
rotation period is so slow. If the planet were close to the
Sun, it would be easy to understand why its spin should have been slowed
by tidal drag until it was gravitationally locked to its parent body in
this way. But Ooranye is one of the outer planets, far too distant
- one would have thought - for this to happen. Perhaps, then,
gravitational influence is not the cause; perhaps some other agency is
responsible. We know almost nothing of the history of Ooranye in
previous Great Cycles, but we have become used to the idea that its
civilizations can achieve the apparently impossible; perhaps some day we
may discover that the present situation was artificially
Since Ooranye's axial rotation period is the same as its
orbital period, its solar day is the same length as its year, which is
as long as most lifetimes (it is 84 of our years). Such a "day" is
not of much practical use. Therefore, the term "day" on
Ooranye is not employed in the astronomical sense. Instead it is
used to denote the thirty-hour cycle of the brightening and
darkening of the air. This is caused by a periodic glowing
and dimming of micro-organisms (the
throom ) suspended in the atmosphere, and present also in
the tissues of much of the planet's plant life.
This pulsation of light and dark keeps the same time all
over the world, which means that all Uranian clocks are
synchronized; it is the same hour everywhere on the globe of
Ooranye, so there can never be any need for "time zones" on that
For an account of how the Uranian day is divided and its
divisions named, see timekeeping.
two hemispheres of Ooranye
As is natural for a world that has one side always
facing the Sun, Ooranye's significant hemispheres are held to be,
not the northern and the southern in our sense of those words, but
the sun-facing and the one facing the other way.
As a matter of fact these are sometimes
given the arbitrary terms "north" and "south", respectively. Thus,
the Sunward Polar City, Skyyon, is sometimes said to be at the
"north" pole of Ooranye, and the mysterious land of Arclour, antipodeal
to Skyyon, is said to be at the "south" Pole. But we will usually
try to use the terms Sunward and Starward instead of North and
interior of Ooranye
The planet's ice mantle extends most of the way down to
the core. The core itself, and many moon-sized globules within the
mantle, consist of denser mass-concentrations ("mascons"). These
can be of degenerate matter - as abnornally dense as that found in white
dwarf stars, only cold; or of the pre-universal non-particulate matter
called kolv; or of a compound of kolv and particulate
matter known as gvo. Occasionally, with the slow
convection of aeons, a mascon may find its way to the surface and emerge
as the tip of a globular mountain. One of these, the so-called
"Sun-Egg", played a key part in human history.
plains and the mountains
The characteristic Uranian landscape is that of an
immense plain. The sense of awe and mystery aroused on Earth by
its oceans, is aroused on Ooranye by the solid world-ocean of the
plains. These spaces are covered by a thin layer (usually a yard
deep at most) of a semi-organic granular substance known as gralm . Sometimes this is translated as
"loam", but although plants can grow in it, it has nothing in
common with Earth loam either in structure or in appearance.
The gralm is corky, very slightly springy to walk on, like a
carpet. Its colours vary among the range of cold hues - greys,
blues, purples, browns.
Perhaps two per cent of the plains are covered with
forest, and in addition to the forests there are innumerable solitary
groves, some of them formed by deadly narps, the long-living
plants with laser-tipped stems, who can live for millions of days on the
metal carcass of one downed skimmer.
Apart from the world-embracing plains there are
"islands" of hilly or mountainous territory, and some huge chasms.
The Mountains of Flame cover thirty million square miles and include
peaks twice as high as Everest.
One physical change made by man to the physical
geography of the plains, deserves mention in this section: the mighty
monorail network built largely in the Zinc Era. Perhaps 150,000
miles of track were laid down, on artificial embankments seven yards
Finally there are the rare "seas", actually giant lakes,
whose slow-motion waves have been known to conceal submarine monsters
and - in one case - monster submarines.
The giant planet Ooranye is much more capable of looking
after itself than is comparatively fragile Mother Earth. Hence,
there has never been any need for Uranian
"environmentalism". Mankind flourishes there up to a point but is
never in any danger of dominating the planet. The sheer physical
challenge would be too great, and besides, man is just one of many
Uranian intelligent species. These considerations make for
Nature, also, is less violently prone to change on the
seventh planet than she is on the third. Apart from the slow
convection which brings an occasional mascon to the surface, Ooranye
does not have much in the way of an active crust. The Jershan
volcanoes pour forth floods of water rather than lava, and even these
low-key eruptions are active mostly because of the rare events which
ended the Bismuth Era - events which (it is hoped) are unlikely to be
repeated. (See Impostor).
We may here mention two further historical exceptions to
this peaceful picture. The Great Winter of the
Titanium Era covered most of the civilized world in snow; and the Foam -
the popcorn-like expansion of the gralm in the Lanthanum Era - even more
deeply covered the main cities of Syoom. The first of these
disasters, though involving Nature, was by no means entirely natural in
origin: the Winter was a retaliation by Fyayman powers for Nalre
Zitpoidl's act of murder. As to the Foam, we understand the
physical mechanism involved, but we do not know the reason it
occurred when it did; the possibility remains, in this case too, that
human events - or reactions to those events - were somehow
[Return to front