Wednesday, April 3, 2019

World of Grass

MONOGRAPH ON THE INHABITED WORLD GAMMA LEONIS 3
COMMONLY CALLED "THE WORLD OF GRASS"
PREPARED BY THE IMPERIAL ORDER OF SURVEYORS FOR THE VICEROYAL

Gamma Leonis 3 is an inhabited planet made habitable through terraforming. For reasons that will likely remain a mystery to us, as the relevant records have been lost, your ancestors, who terraformed it, introduced only grasses, and no other type of plant lives there. For this reason, it is called the World of Grass.

The biomes of the world are defined almost entirely by rain. The driest areas are like harsh deserts everywhere: sand and rock and no plants or animals.  Slightly more favorable deserts support poverty grasses. Rainier areas are grasslands, prairies, or steppes; the more rain, the higher the grass. Areas that receive the most rain become bamboo groves, with species as large as any tree. The planet is both colder and rainier than it should be, owing to the massive wildfires that regularly sweep the lands. Winters are unduly harsh.

The lack of any available wood forces its peoples into several limited ways of life, depending on biome. The people of the hills and mountains build homes and terraces of stone, reinforced with bamboo. The people of the river valleys irrigate large fields and build cities of clay. The people of the lakes and marshes weaves boats our of reeds and train birds to fish for them. The people of the seas and islands create ships of bamboo. The people of the steppes live by herding and hunting.

All of these peoples have but three domesticated animals. A species of elk, which was likely tampered with during the terraforming process, as it has many genes from horses and can be ridden like them, a species of bighorn sheep, and a species of guineafowl like great blue-black chickens. They have five domesticated plants, all grasses. They grow rice, wheat, barley, sugarcane, and a semi-domesticated strain of bamboo.

The people of the world of grass are almost certainly the descendants of an ancient colony. Like with most foundling colonies, the peoples of the world of grass are unusually culturally similar, even when great distance separates them. All of their religions are variants of ancestor worship and the worship of national heroes. All of their languages are derived from Anglish, presumably the language of the original colonists. Governments almost all contain technocratic or bureaucratic elements. All of their economies operate with an unusual degree of division of labor and specialization, with craftsmen expected to perfect one single part of their craft, and perform it as part of an assembly line.

You may find their morality puzzling at first, but its basis is simple. To them, all good is the same. They do not distinguish between being good at something and being a good person. They have one word for self-improvement, and one for the improvement of others. It's not charity, but something we don't have an exact word for it. It is tied up with concepts like stewardship and parenthood, a sort of earned superiority. Keep that in mind when you take the reigns of the planet.

The world of grass offers several prospects for exploitation. Its peoples are skilled sculptors and weavers, and their best works would be worth exporting. There are a few national epics and popular stories that would be worth translating and copywriting. Perhaps most valuable is biological information. The genetic templates of domesticated plants and animals always sell well, and the planet's unique ecology is of great interest to biologists, who would buy the templates of strange organisms like bloodgrass, saltgrass, and bamboo birds.

No derelicts have been detected in orbit, which raises the possibility that their colony ship landed on the planet's surface and never took off. Needless to say, its drive core would be the greatest possible treasure this planet could possibly hold. One clue as to its location may be the valley of faces, a narrow gorge the sides of which have been carved into massive statues, all dressed in garments that resemble spacesuits.

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