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
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
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
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
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.