321. Home Grown Ecosystems (2)

Cyan is now available for pre-order through Amazon, with the eBook arriving April 17th. Meanwhile, I plan to repeat a few year old-posts that were designed to stir the blood of would-be readers just before an earlier release date that didn’t happen.


Continuing our look at the creation of an ecology for Cyan. If you missed yesterday’s post, you might want to go there first.

We can take grasses and weeds for granted. Let’s give our trees multiple trunks bound together, like a strangler fig without its victim, and that should be enough. We need something like insects. We’ll call them Chitropods – chitro sounds like chitin, and pod means foot, so our reader will infer an exoskeleton without any further work on our part. Continuing the idea of inference, if we call the flying creatures who eat the chitropods pouchbats, the reader will draw a better picture in his mind that we could on paper.

The number of legs is important to Terrestrial arthropods, but lets bypass that by giving all our chitropods many legs, but with only one joint each where it meets the body. Now they have a rolling gait “like caterpillars on crutches”. Humor helps keep description from limping along. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

These are throw-away inventions. They could have been applied to any ecosystem and they are not systemically related to each other. They alone would be good enough for almost any SF novel, but not for one about scientists teasing out the essence of their planet.

Here we need a key differentiation, from early in evolution, from which a thousand lesser differences can be derived. Here it is for Cyan. Early in the development of chordate life, the vertebral column doubled at the posterior, giving the Cyanian version of fish twin tails. That changed everything. I’ll explain more fully later in a separate post.

On Cyan, the classes are Pseudo-pisces, Amphibia, and Inturbia. No reptiles, no birds, no mammals, no dinosaurs. The Amphibia are cold blooded. Inturbia are inefficiently warm blooded. The term Inturbia should imply “internal body temperature un-perturbed by external changes”. Not every reader will get that, but we need to reward our best readers by not spelling out everything.

There are a thousand other details, but for that, you will just have to download the book when it comes out July 5th.


I do have one more thing to share. I wouldn’t bother you, but since you’re reading a post about the backstage secrets of writing science fiction, I can assume that we are all nerds together here .

Inturbia have live birth. Cyanian amphibs have to return to water to lay their eggs, except for one group, the Sphaeralvids, who produce globewombs.

(Globewombs were) the closest thing to an amniote egg that Cyan’s fauna had developed – a transparent, leathery sac extruded by a Sphaeralvid mother and filled with a clear fluid like seawater. Into this she deposited fertile ova, then defecated. Then she separated from the globewomb and left it cached in the crotch of a tree, high up where it would receive full sunlight. On a bright day millions of these globewombs glinted in the treetops.

Algae from the Sphaeralvid mother’s bowels converted the feces into biomass and the Sphaeralvid nymphs fed off the algae.  When the feces were gone, the globewomb walls would break down, leaving the now sizeable nymphs free to face Cyan on their own.

Neat, huh? The globewombs are glinting in the treetops from the first day planetside. By the time the explorers understand what they are, the reader will have been wondering for some time. Globewombs don’t contribute anything to the plot, but since these are scientists trying to tease out the ecology of Cyan, we need some concrete examples of their work. Globewombs provide that.

They make me want to be there when they make the discovery – but that’s why I wrote the book.


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