Category Archives: Arnaron

John Carter of Mars

I knew that a John Carter of Mars movie was being filmed – I didn’t know they had already released a trailer. Behold:

Now, I am a huge Edgar Rice Burroughs / Barsoom fan. Considering my Arnaron setting, this is probably not a surprise to my readers. I do realize that the worldbuilding for Barsoom is naive (at best; the phrase “thrown together” comes to mind) but it’s a strong archetype, and the stories are an easy, fun read. Besides, wouldn’t it have been exciting if Mars had turned out to be littered with ancient ruins?

There are a few nits I have to pick with the trailer though.

  • The Green Men of Mars look retarded. What are those things off the sides of their heads? Makes them look like puppies. Strange, evil, twisted, alien puppies, but still puppies.
  • The John Carter actor displays the Charisma of a loaf of bread in the trailer. He doesn’t look butch enough to be John Carter, either.
  • Dejah Toris looks like a “competent woman” in the trailer. Okay, a useless damsel in distress is probably less exciting to watch, and of all the dramatic license they could have taken this is not the worst. But John Carter saves the princess; it’s what he does. I surely hope that they didn’t make her too competent.
  • On that subject, she doesn’t quite look red enough.
  • And on that subject, nothing does! This is not a nit, it’s gonna be a gripe. The landscape does not look like Mars. Seriously guys, it’s the American West. When John Carter wakes up I first thought this was still on Earth. “He is supposed to be lay in a cave, not the desert, damn it!”, I thought – until I realized he was already on Mars. The fake looking plants kind of gave this away. The following shots, with the ruins and so on, they all look like Earth. They are nice shots, yes. But seriously, in this age of computer effects, couldn’t they have tinted everything in Mars colors? I am not even talking about the fake Viking colors we associate with Mars. Make it true-color Mars!

It’s still a definite “must see” for me, of course. And perhaps I should dust off my Barsoom pastiches before 2012…

NaNoWriMo 2009 "Won"

It’s done, one day ahead of schedule – I “won” NaNoWriMo 2009.

NaNoWriMo 2009 Winner

This year, it was particularly hard. Not only do I have a new job which kept me quite occupied, I also did not have any furniture at home, having just moved into a new apartment. Like last year, I encountered mental resistance to the project after some time, and just like last year I asked myself, “why the hell am I doing this?”

I am doing this, of course, to teach myself to be “creative” to a schedule. I did a better job of this than last year. I wrote on fewer days of the month than last year, and got much more done on those days. And while I did not complete the story yet, I am quite close.

What made all the difference is that I followed one of the lessons learned from last year: This time I created an outline ahead of time. Some adjustments were necessary, as I moved the story form one of my worlds to another, but these were relatively minor. I did not complete the story yet, but I am very close; another 2-3 days will get me there so unlike last year, I will get to “The End”. It’s still a crappy story, so unless I edit it into something fairly nice I won’t be posting it. đŸ˜‰

I am not sure whether I will do NaNoWriMo 2010, but unless some other big project interferes, I probably will. I’ll try to take some days off of work next year, though: If I have an outline and write every day, I should be able to easily complete a story in the 30 days.

To blog or not to blog fiction…

First off, a happy 2009 to all of you. I hope that you all had fun celebrating the advent of the new year, and that it will be a successful year for you.

I have worked on outlining that serialized fiction set in ArnĂ¢ron I talked about last month, and I think I am fairly happy with the outline. It’s not gonna be the next bestseller, but for my purposes – advancing the world ArnĂ¢ron – it will suffice. However, there’s one thing I have been mulling over that you guys might be able to give me an opinion on:

If and when I write these episodes, and if I and my “guinea pig” (I think the more correct term is “beta reader”) then think they are not totally terrible, what do I do with them?

Intuitively, I thought that I should just put them on the blog, but this is not really a fiction blog. Besides that would give them a sort of finality and I couldn’t go back and fix broken things. On the other hand, I do not really want to bury them in my document repository. Critique, feedback, and open development are Good Things. So what should I do with them?

Decisions, decisions!

My next project…

NaNoWriMo is over, I won, and I am in the process of completing my novel. I decided on a project to tackle next. I could just start something completely new, but I do not want to start yet another project that never gets done. So I looked at my large collection of worlds and picked one that is dear to my heart.

ArnĂ¢ron.

As you may remember, ArnĂ¢ron is my version of Barsoom. I began to work on ArnĂ¢ron in its current form as my project for World Building Month, back in August. (Has it only been three months? Amazing how time flies.)

When I last visited ArnĂ¢ron, I was writing random articles and working on a con language. I still have a to do list with many open items. Let me re-list it here, with current status:

* Language. I made some progress, but a lot of work remains to be done.
* Religion. I have not worked on this aspect.
* Nations: Still in the same state as in August.
* Money and trade: I have posted one article on natural resources, more needs to be written.
* Cities of ArnĂ¢ron. No update.
* Ruins and relics: I wrote about the ruins and the past, I think this is a solid basis to work from.
* Astrology and zodiacs: I haven’t created these at all.
* Heroes and villains: Still needs to be written.
* Prizes and princesses: Ditto.
* The hordes: Ditto, again.

Now, a lot of this is fundamental work that could simply keep me busy for years. I’d like to define some sort of goal, something that is reachable. (NaNoWriMo taught me the importance of that.)

There is one event, or story-arc, that I planned for the world, somewhat related to the basic John Carter story A Princess of Mars. I will use this event to write a series of stories, and will create all the supporting material I need for this story. I will try to write one “chapter” every month in 2009 (and into 2010 if the series does not get done in 12 months).

I have a month for outlining and for completing my NaNoWriMo novel. Let’s see how this goes.

ArnĂ¢ron Language Sample

The vocabulary of my language now consists of 107 words. I have begun to create a sample translation of the story of babel.

“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.”

X-Sampa:
dov\a Ruj wo RondoR ad mes ki yJana ut kuv\a Ruj wo peguR.

Roman: Dowa ruy wo rondor ad mes ki ûnyana ut kuwa ruy wo pegur.

Literal translation:
now everything abstract-ideas-measure-word world past-have one speech and same everything abstract-ideas-measure-word word.

Script:

Script Sample

(The line break in the script sample is after the word “ki”.)

If you think writing fifty thousand words in thirty days is hard, I dare you to create a language.

Thoughts about Natural Resources on ArnĂ¢ron

ArnĂ¢ron is an old world. It is no longer controlled by a global civilization but rather a couple of smaller nations that survive here and there.

A planet’s natural resources are not infinite. We witness this in the “real world” – after the rise of energy prices, Peak Oil is probably the best-known example, but there are also fears that other materials may run out, for example copper. A civilization will use up all the available resources over the course of its history, and either adapt when shortages occur, or die.

However, the civilization of ArnĂ¢ron was destroyed prematurely by external causes. The receding coastlines also made additional deposits available for exploitation; the oceans contain a wealth of materials that are hard to extract. But once the oceans dry up, all these additional deposits become available for exploitation.

For these reasons I can set the remaining resource levels rather arbitrarily – the world likely would not suffer from material shortages. The main problem would be one of location. In the searing heat of the desert, a rich mine may as well be nonexistent if it is located far away from canals or trade routes, as traveling overland on arbitrary routes is extremely difficult due to the hostile climate.

Water

Water, something we often take for granted, is a critical supply on ArnĂ¢ron. People survive where they can find water, and the dry deserts are abandoned and hostile to life.

In some areas, open water remains – due to rivers which run into the few remaining “oceans”. Canals help to feed the remaining oceans, and transport water over long distances into regions where no free water would otherwise exist. Wells are also used to irrigate stretches of the desert, and to provide drinking water to the people.

Most open surface water on ArnĂ¢ron is slightly saline; the sources of the water (melt ice from the poles, rivers) is sweet water, but there remains a lot of salt from the dried-up oceans. Where water is saline, it is desalinated before being used for irrigation or consumption.

Food

Food is always in short supply. Where water exists, it is used for irrigation – food output in these regions will be high, but it is limited – ArnĂ¢ron is not able to sustain a massive population, and droughts will result in severe famines and may very well shift the local balance of power. Cattle requires a lot of grazing land, so meat is expensive. Fish is available near rivers and the remaining oceans, but will also be expensive due to limited supplies. Many people live on a purely vegetarian diet.

Local rulers always attempt to control food supplies tightly, either to ensure that they and the military get the lion’s share, or that food is distributed “fairly”. Poaching and illegal fishing are problems in some areas, and are usually sanctioned with harsh penalties.

Salt, incidentally, is fairly worthless – dried up seas have left more salt than anybody could want. However, spices of all kinds are expensive trade commodities.

Cloth and Leather

Due to ArnĂ¢ron’s status as a desert world, organic materials are relatively rare and expensive. There are forests, and where possible the people of ArnĂ¢ron do cultivate and protect them – knowing very well that deforestation would only hasten the fate of their world.

Cotton, flax, and hemp are grown next to food crops, and are the main materials used for textiles. Wool, leather, furs and pelts are the byproduct of domesticating animals, and in areas where wild animals survive, hunt. Silk is a luxury cloth, available only to important rulers and very rich individuals.

Metals

Metals of all kinds are used for items of every day use, for construction, and for weaponry. Depending on local conditions, items that can be made from metal rather than from an organic material will be made from metal.

The main problem with obtaining metals is to find a source that can be easily reached – ideally by a canal, otherwise with a caravan route. There are many deposits and ancient mines all over ArnĂ¢ron that could yield large amounts of materials, but which are inaccessible due to their location deep in the hostile deserts.

Ancient cities and battlefields are routinely scavenged for metals and other materials, and are mostly stripped bare. Metals are also easy to recycle, so that an unwanted or even broken metal object will always fetch some money on local markets.

Energy

Energy production on ArnĂ¢ron is mostly from renewable energy sources – water and wind, but also solar energy, in a primitive way. Solar cells are no longer manufactured, but solar energy is used to heat up water, for example.

Wood is burned where needed, for example by the hordes, caravans or travelers, as it can often be recovered locally and other ways to heat oneself in the cold desert nights are not readily available.

Slaves and beasts of burden are another source of power. Since both require food to sustain, their use depends on local conditions. However, captured enemy soldiers or criminals that are not executed are almost always put to work – they need to be fed, and the captors thus see little reason not to recuperate the expense in food in some way.

End of World Building Month

So it’s September. World Building Month is over, and, as always, I didn’t post nearly as much as I had intended to. No matter, the important thing is that everybody had a good time, and I think that’s something that can be said about WBM.

While I haven’t managed to keep the initial output rate up, I am quite happy with what I have accomplished. World Building Month made me post 67 times in August. That’s a lot of material, and I finally got this weblog off the ground with some real material.

I fully intend to keep going, probably at a much more relaxed rate (I am back to work). ArnĂ¢ron will receive its language, and it will be formed into a “world book”. I’ll post more about my other worlds, too, and about world building in general if and when I feel I can contribute to the craft.

Thanks to Eliza for launching World Building Month, I loved it. Thanks also to Kaya, who drew my attention to it, and to all of you who have posted on your own blogs and who have dropped by with your comments. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in the next months. Here, and on the other blogs.

Relics and Ruins

ArnĂ¢ron is littered with leftovers from the past. Abandoned, ruined cities dot the ancient continents and the former coastlines. A network of canals criss-crosses the world, most of them still functional after many centuries. And everywhere signs of ancient battles and wars can be found.

Canals

The most notable remnant of ArnĂ¢ron’s ultra high technological past is the global network of canals. Their construction was a feat of engineering unrivaled in all of ArnĂ¢ron’s history. The canals bring water from the poles towards the equator, and from the remaining seas towards the ancient continents.

The major canals are a kilometer wide and fifty meters deep. They are lined by earthen levees that protect the surrounding lands in the event from flooding. Water seeping through the canals’ sides form an aquafier in the immediate surrounding, which makes a wide stretch of land along the canals arable – sometimes several kilometers wide. Not all of this land is claimed, or even usable for agriculture, and consists mostly of steppes.

A network of minor canals – not shown on the above map – branches off of the major canals, transporting the water further inland.

The canals are not always “simple” trenches through which water flows. In several locations, extensive aqueducts were built to cross a canyon or valley – or former ocean trench. Pumping stations forced water uphill, towards the interior of the ancient continents. Locks helped ships and barges to travel canals at different heights.

The most amazing thing about the canals is not only the fact that many are still operational after many centuries – Locals do their best to clear out debris and sand during low flow – but that many of the locks and pumping stations are still in working order. Not all of them, but enough that the majority of the canal network remains usable. The engineers who built them anticipated that their descendants would not be able to maintain the machinery properly, and designed for it.

City Ruins

Before the planet began to die, the people of ArnĂ¢ron were a mostly urban society. Centuries of urbanization had all but eliminated rural communities. The result were huge cities that covered vast areas. These cities had grown over long times, and were chaotic accumulations of buildings – most of which were high rises or even skyscrapers. They consisted of modern, lightweight construction materials, and many were covered in blueish solar cells. Buildings in the outlaying areas were smaller and lower, usually housing one or a few families instead of thousands of people. Many buildings and properties had hexagonal or octagonal features or layouts. Transportation was mostly public, and electrical, but some individual transportation was used as well.

Most of these cities were devastated when ArnĂ¢ron changed. Earthquakes, floods, fires, and riots all did their part – most were seriously damaged. Some were rebuilt, others abandoned. Then the oceans began to recede, and the cities that had been rebuilt were eventually abandoned as it became increasingly difficult to maintain them. Some survived along the canals, but eventually the people migrated towards the new coastlines.

This led to a second generation of cities being built. They had to be built quickly and had to house millions of refugees. They were planned out, usually again along hexagonal or, more commonly, octagonal layouts. The buildings weren’t as tall or beautiful, but there were fewer people – the death toll had been huge. Some of these cities survive until today.

Modern Ruins

The current cities are fairly similar to the second generation – building styles have changed somewhat, as the climate has become more hostile. Many buildings are designed to include natural air conditioning – they are built high to take advantage of the difference in temperature to provide a cooling air flow inside. Cities are also heavily defended, including walls and other defensive installations. All cities are located either on a canal or another body of water.

While most of the “modern” cities are inhabited and kept intact, some have been abandoned. This was usually the result of war – sometimes, when a city was razed by an enemy, it was not rebuilt. The survivors fled to another city, or built a new one in a more defensible location.

Ancient Ruins

There are some ruins that date back to “prehistoric” times – that is, to a more primitive time before the golden age of ArnĂ¢ron’s high technology civilization. Very little is left of them – even those which were kept in good repair as historic monuments deteriorated quickly when the effort to keep them intact ceased.

There are some monuments that survive pretty much as they have for thousands of years. For example there are ancient pyramids and megalithic sites that have merely eroded a little in the past centuries.

Roads and railways

The ancient continents were covered by extensive road and railway networks. The rails were usually dismantled and the iron used as raw materials when the regions they served were abandoned, but this wasn’t always the case. Both roads and railway lines are now usually covered by the shifting sands of ArnĂ¢ron, or overgrown where “extensive” vegetation still exists, but in some rocky desert areas the ancient roads are still visible and usable, connecting long destroyed points of interests or the dead cities.

Weapons of War

War has always been a fact of life on ArnĂ¢ron, even before the catastrophe that transformed the planet into its current sorry state, even if the warfare has never been so widespread as today. No signs of pre-catastrophe battlefields remain; the nations involved always cleaned up after the wars were over. But this has not always been possible since. While scavengers usually moved in on abandoned battlefields, there are many sites which they didn’t find or elected to ignore, for example in places that were too remote or too dangerous to reach. Here, sun-bleached skeletons can be found among the burnt-out shells of armored vehicles and combat walkers.

Working Artifacts

Not all artifacts from ArnĂ¢ron’s glorious past are ruined. Some are in perfect working order – The canal system, while deteriorating, is a lasting monument to the quality of the work of its designers. Many cities or other ruins may yet hide preserved weapons or machines. Even those cities that have been thoroughly plundered may yet contain hidden basements or sealed vaults that contain valuable devices, books, or other relics.

The largest single surviving piece of machinery, and probably by far the most powerful, is the captured sun, a working fusion power plant in the polar city-state Nation E. It runs largely automatic, but is attended to by a caste of priest-technicians who can conduct minor repairs. It is the source of the wealth and power of that nation – and the envy of all other cities and nations of ArnĂ¢ron.