Attention! in July 2014, Elfwood.com will get a makeover! Read more about the change.

Elfwood is the worlds largest SciFi & Fantasy community.
  - 152850 members, 3 online now.
  - 11502 site visitors the last 24 hours.


Frances Monro

"Winter King Notes" by Frances Monro

SciFi/Fantasy text 38 out of 43 by Frances Monro.      ←Previous - Next→
Tag As Favorite
Details of the setting, biology and culture of the world of Pila, the setting for the Winter King.
Add Bookmark
Tag As FavoriteComment
←- The Winter King | The Smiling Troll -→
These notes are inspired by the interest shown in my story The Winter King. They detail some of the world building behind this story and talk briefly about the direction that the story will take once I get around to writing it.


Illustration winter_map.jpg for Winter King Notes

The Winter King mostly takes place in the Summer City of Zeme and the Winter City of Strama (Stromlo?). The twice annual migration between the two is an importan cultural event on Pila. A Pilan year takes approximately 80 earth years.

Celesital Mechanics

Illustration orbit.jpg for Winter King Notes
Pila is a moon of Wutram, a planet similar to Saturn. Pila orbits Wutram approximately once a day, and it is tidally locked - one face always faces Wutram, which never rises or sets. A day on Pila is the same period as it's orbit around Wutram. During this day there are two nights, the Little Night and the True Night. Little night lasts about an hour and is caused by Wutram eclipsing the sun. It is much darker then the True Night, which lasts 12 hours, because Wutram lights up the night sky. On the far side of Pila night is much darker because Wutram is not visible.

A day cycle works like this:

6am  First Day
11.30am Little Night
12.30am Second Day
6pm True Night

A year is governed by the eliptical orbit of Wutram around Hael. This takes 80 years. Winter occurs when Wutram is furthest from Hael, and Summer when it is closest. Hael is a much brighter, hotter star than Sol, a blue giant, a relatively young star. It is speculated that Wutram and Pila are recent additions to the Hael system, having been captured from another star. The Hael system is part of a globular cluster and as such has a much brigter sky than Earth. However, the stars can only be seen well during the Little Night, or from the far side of the planet, away from Wutram, which dominates the heavens.


All life on Pila has evolved to cope with the long seasons. Most animals and plants take different forms in different generations, in a rather more extreme form of the kind of adaption that earth creatures make to our seasons, such as having a winter coat and a summer coat. The way this works is that environmental cues - day length, temperature etc have hormonal effects on the bodies of the people which in turn turns their reproductive cycles on and off. Births trail off at the end of a season, and then another, perhaps completely seperate (or perhaps not!) set of reproductive organs gradually fire up in the new season, and these organs produce children with the correct hormone mix to develop the right form for the new season.

Of course there are always sports, people who for one reason or another developed wrong or out of season, but, perhaps they don't live very long, or they're mostly sterile, or in any case, they are rare. It's a lot like how sexual characteristics develop in humans (and other mammals). The default form for a human is female, and that's how our development would normally progress. This is why men have nipples, for instance. However, the Y chromasome causes testes to develop, and the hormone that they produce - testosterone - causes the suppression of certain feminine features which would otherwise develop, and causes male organs to grow instead. This one hormone causes quite significant changes in bodily form and mental/behavioral development.

There are people who have male chromasomes - XY - but who's bodies develop as female because the testosterone failed to be generated in the womb. The way I see this species working is that they have four seasonal hormones which are generated by organs controlled by day length and temperature.

On Pila hormones control reproductive fertility and the development of the young and are responsible for such things as:

1. The generation gaps - Most babies are born in the middle of the seasons, resulting in distinct "lumps" of population with gaps in between.

2. The forms and tempraments of the children in each generation, which are different for the different conditions. For instance winter folk have thick white hair (all over?) to protect them from cold and blend into a snowy landscape.3. The metabolic rates. Lower and more energy conservative in winter.


On the subject of history. Yes, they have a long history, and yes, it is written. The archives are an immense cave system and there is one at each of the major seasonal cities. They pack all writen materail carefully and stow it away in the deepest corners of the archives when a city is abandoned for the great move. Then two generations later the archivists come back and unpack and rediscover the written treasures. Of course this means that the archives in each place are quite different from one another! Indeed you could say that the summer cities and the winter cities have quite different outlooks, cultures and traditions, including their writing styles and reference material and literary preocupations. On the treks in between the two cities an oral tradition takes over because very little writing is carried. I don't know how long the treks take, possibly a couple of years. It's a transitional time, when the settled habits of civilized folk are put asied for the traditions of nomads, just for a while. Then they arrive at the Winter City and build a new society based around the needs of Winter.

Of particular interest to Andevarin's story is the Custom of the Summer and Winter Kingships. Princes are chosen at the middle of Autumn and Spring to serve as King for the season. They take their bride from the Southern Continent, then in Spring they return north to marry the Spring Queen from their own Continent.


Star-faring visitors from Terra and other planets are not unknown on Pila, although their visits are few and far between because of the immense distance between the stars.

←- The Winter King | The Smiling Troll -→

10 Sep 2003:-) Debra L Turpin
Well, this raises a few questions! lol! It was interesting to read it though. I thought I'd read Winter King, but maybe not. I'll take look at it (maybe again?)!
Not signed in, Add an anonymous comment to this guestbook...    

Your Name:
Your Mail:
   Private message? (Info)

'Winter King Notes':
 • Created by: :-) Frances Monro
 • Copyright: ©Frances Monro. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: King, Notes, Pila, St, Winter
 • Categories: Extrateresstial, Alien Life Forms, Royalty, Kings, Princes, Princesses, etc, Spaceships, Ships, Bessels, Transportation...
 • Views: 2412

Bookmark and Share

More by 'Frances Monro':
Creation Story
The Scapegoat's Daughter
Conversation with the Beast
Night Tales
Knight and Dragon
The Hissy King

Related Tutorials:
  • '10 Steps to Creating Realistic Fantasy Animals'
  • 'Writing Action' by :-)S. B. 'Kinko' Hulsey
  • 'Character Creation Form' by :-)Crissy Moss
  • Art Education Finder...

    Elfwood™ is a site for Fantasy and Science Fiction art and stories. The site was founded by Thomas Abrahamsson and is maintained by helpful assistants and moderators, owned by the Elfwood AB corporation.