Scientists at the European Southern Observatory have announced the discovery of another exoplanet (a planet that orbits a star other than our own). We know of many, but this one is special. It’s just slightly larger than Earth and hangs out in the biology sweet spot.
The ESO team named it Proxima b, which roughly translates as “Planet b of the nearest star of Centaurus.” It’s the sexiest name possible.
So when you climb aboard your intergalactic cruiser and fly to Proxima b, what do you want to find? A complex world teeming with sentient life, thousands of cultures, complex politics, and varied environments?
I want a forest planet. Or an ocean planet. Or an ice planet. I don’t like the sunshine, so I’m not hoping for a beach planet, but I understand some people like that sort of thing.
I want one—and only one—homogenous civilization living there. They could be happy robe-wearing pacifists, or a race of librarians, or armor-wearing warlike uglies (if I felt like mixing things up; does my cruiser have blasters?).
Even a planet of cannibals would be interesting.
My favorite sci-fi single-biome planet is Arrakis, aka Dune from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Because Dune is in large part an environmental sci-fi novel, he invests a lot of time building the science of its single-biome, how it got to be that way, and the terraforming efforts to change it.
I’m not saying that’s plausible; I have no idea. But I like the effort.
The Star Wars universe is full of single-biomes, and trust me, I’m not mocking. This is love. Endor is my favorite forest planet (ok, moon), Dagobah my favorite swamp planet.
And Hoth? Come on. I’d throw on a parka and spend all my days riding around on tauntauns.
We need the single biome planet. It brings a planet alive in our mind, gives us an image, and imbues it with personality.
It’s like I’ve always said: Earth has no personality.
There is no time for complexity in most planet-hopping space sci-fi. We love traveling far and fast and getting the tourist view when we stop for gas.
Another favorite is Fhloston Paradise from The Fifth Element. This one is particularly hilarious because we never even go to the surface—the characters just orbit it in a giant cruise ship. It’s Hawaii, more or less, complete with leis around everyone’s necks.
Fhloston may not even be single biome, but it has an even better status. It’s a single-purpose planet. This is another cherished sci-fi standard; an entire planet given up to a single task or function.
In this case, it’s the “vacation” or “pleasure” planet. Off the top of my head, I know I’ve also seen garbage planets and farm planets. Technically, Dune/Arrakis qualifies as both farm planet and single biome planet, so it wins all the awards.
I’m kind of jonesing for a coffee planet. Not a planet with only coffee fields, though several continents would be given up for that. Coffee dispensaries would cover at least 50% of the land surface as well.
So here’s to Proxima b being an ice world with tauntauns that carry you between coffee shops. Nothing but that—across all continents, latitudes, and longitudes.
What would your ideal single-biome world look like? Flower-filled meadow? Or would you go single-purpose? Beer planet?