Spoilers! If you haven’t read Episode 37 of Target 10, continue at your own risk!
What a trip! Haven has many natural wonders and I feel Reby was taken out of her comfort zone a bit. I like this because it gave me the chance to show some of her limitations (beyond lack of medical skills) and a tiny hint at her past. She’s got her own story and it’s so much fun dropping the connections into this one.
So I promised to give some more information for the geology and geography of Haven. Since the planet is earth-like, I naturally took inspiration our world. But then tried to spice it up, twist it, or make it unique somehow. I have to admit though, that some of it I didn’t do much to make it different because it was already amazing.
When she first enters the “map mode” of the chair, she sees a group of islands off to the west. These were inspired by the archipelagos of the South Pacific and the Hawaiian islands. [Neat fun fact: I lived in Hawaii for 15 months when my father was stationed there in the Army. I loooooved it. I blame my deep seeded desire to live in the tropics overlooking the ocean on the impression it made on my young soul.]
Anyway, the islands grow more sparsely covered and more volcanic the farther west Reby moves. Until she hits “the big one” (wink wink) that is still an actively erupting volcano. It’s like Kilauea though, in that the lava tends to roll down the sides without any huge explosions. Except for the blue lava, that’s not something you’d see on Earth…or is it?
There is a volcanic phenomenon that looks like blue lava, but it isn’t. When sulfuric gases mingle with oxygen on the surface they burn blue. The flames often “flow” on the mountainside giving the appearance of lava. You can see an explanation and some cool video of it happening on a volcano in Indonesia in the video below.
Of course, this isn’t what’s happening on Haven, but it did inspire it. The blue lava Reby sees is actually real lava because, well, it’s an alien planet. The reason there’s no blue lava on Earth is that the temperatures don’t get high enough to make the molten rock blue. On Haven, maybe it gets hot enough, or maybe there are different chemicals reacting to create the blue. It’ll take a scientific expedition to find out!
The same can be said for the crystalline trees on the savanna. Here on Earth crystals don’t grow the same as plants, though they do grow. So on an alien planet would it be possible for life to leverage the structure of crystals? Perhaps even grow into what we’d call a tree? I say yes!
The huge column with mountains came from a documentary I watched about the “islands in the sky.” There are lots of them in South America and are often called flat mountains or tepui. The featured image is one example. Mount Roraima is the tallest tepui at almost three thousand meters (nearly 10,000 feet). The one on have Haven is at least double that. In my mind it is even taller.
The tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, is on Auyán-tepui mountain in Venezuela. It has an uninterrupted fall of over 800 meters. And the water doesn’t reach the bottom! The water actually turns to mist because of the friction with the air as it falls. I was very tempted to have the huge waterfall on Haven make it all the way to the ground, but I hurt my brain trying to figure out how different the air would need to be, or the liquid (assuming it wasn’t water) would need to be for that to work. Being a physicist, I could figure this out, but some times you just need to know when to stop researching or calculating. So like Angel Falls, the one on Haven behaves the same as here on Earth because if anything the atmosphere there is more dense than ours.
One difference between the tepui and the column (I really should give it a name!) on Haven is that it isn’t flat. The top is a unique biosphere all its own, created both by the height and the mountain range on top. I really liked the idea of a protected valley, kind of like a “lost world.”
Reby doesn’t spend much time in the valley but she notices the spiral trees growing around the iridescent blue lakes. My daughter is a bit obsessed with succulents nowadays, so my inspiration for the interlocking spiral tress came from one that looks like in this image. In my mind, these trees are most likely a single organism, or a group of them that grow together like a colony. Close up they’d look more tree-like than the succulent in the image, with the spirals being branches and the leaves cascading off of them helping to create the full effect. That’s probably all as clear as mud, but it all sounds kinda cool doesn’t it? But what about the water?
I don’t think many of us would describe water as iridescent, but there are plenty of examples here on earth where water can take on different colors and effects. Sometimes this happens from minerals in the water, sometimes human-made chemicals, and sometimes various kinds of life such as bacteria or algae.
So that’s it for the inspiration of the setting in this episode. But I didn’t want to leave without mentioning the Mez that Reby remembers. Hopefully you picked up on the fact that it’s a drug, one Reby had taken but still fears and feels awful about. I don’t want to give much more away except that the memory of it relates to an event that takes place after she’s kicked out of university and before Jemy comes and recruits her for the Demption. She falls on some seriously hard times. I’ve shared a glimpse of it with some of you in a flash fiction piece called “Dreaming of Igni Prime.” I’m expanding it into a full novella that I plan on releasing in conjunction with the ebook version of Target 10. That’ll probably be near the end of the year, November or December.
Featured image from: Paolo Costa Baldi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons