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THE PLANIANS

by Chris Wayan, 2004

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Perhaps a hundred thousand years ago, cameloid relatives of the modern taurlope strayed into the high planos from Mosnoll and Eronit Veldt, and speciated into the Planians: shorter, rounder, like centauroid llamas or vicuñas. Their chief glory is their long warm fur, golden and fluffy. They shed annually, collecting and weaving their own fine wool into goods prized in the chill taigas and tundras of Thron, the Fjord Shore, Thuas, South Leas, and the Yelav Narg.

An amiable, easygoing, hardy, stubborn people, Planians are far less shy than their lowland relatives the taurlopes, for they had few natural enemies--raptors can't keep up in thin air.

Let's visit at high summer, just after the annual shearing, when their bodyplan is more visible. Of course, it may take some coaxing to see a trimmed Planian; they feel naked with short fur, and pile on scarves and ponchos from last year's harvest--the only time of the year they wear clothing. Of course, the bright-dyed clothes just draw attention to the parts they leave exposed, so the Summer Fairs in Mosnoll and Eronit are curious mixtures of singles bar, carnival, beach holiday... and, of course, tradeshow.

The city of Abbenay during a Planian textile fair, on northern Serrana, an experimental hybrid of Terran and Martian climates.
But even cameloid modesty yields to flattery, bribery and flirtation. We have a model willing to pose for us. Note how the torso, both thorax and barrel, is narrow and deep-chested like a greyhound, and the long legs. Planians are excellent runners as well as hardy rock-climbers. They never invented the wheel--and not just because the land was rough for road-building! Why ride when you can run? Running's seen as a pleasure; races are common. Even load-carrying is considered pleasant, healthy exercise.

A cameloid centaur of Eronit Plano on Serrana, an experimental hybrid of Terran and Martian climates.
In northern Serrana, the same sort of plano had until recent times quite a different population: mini-mammoths. Now that travel in the lowlands is relatively safe, Planians have been settling the northern highlands in large numbers, creating mixed civilizations. In the south, the only plano with a significant mammoth population is colder, windier Reppok, which is nearer the South Polar Tundra--mammoth heaven. The two herbivorous species don't quite compete: the nomadic mammoths prefer grazing lichens and tall grass near snowline, while the sedentary Planians farm quasi-potatoes, greens and fruit in the valleys. Still, while they've never fought--they're both nonviolent herbivores and have trouble thinking in those terms--there can be land-use squabbles. Economics--farming vs nomadic grazing--seems to transcend species as an irritant. No wonder they call it "the dismal science."

The Planian heartland's still the four southern planos east of the Tsud Desert: Mosnoll, Pedess, Eronit, and Reppok. But the north--Yanneba Plano, and huge (if less fertile) Rakach Plateau beyond it--are fast becoming their cultural center. A cameloid New World!

Most are still subsistence farmers, though even the poorest tend to tinker; Serrana's temperate crops are mostly Planian-developed. Planians also pioneered writing, books, murals, and large sculptures. They're superb weavers, rivaling tree-squid. Fond of loud color, fur-dyes and cosmetics--camels love lipstick!

Fabric design (red diamonds on gold) woven by Planians, high-altitude cameloid centaurs on Serrana, an experimental hybrid of Terran and Martian climates. Fabric design (blue diagonals) woven by Planians, high-altitude cameloid centaurs on Serrana, an experimental hybrid of Terran and Martian climates. Fabric design (red and gold circles and crosses on gray) woven by Planians, high-altitude cameloid centaurs on Serrana, an experimental hybrid of Terran and Martian climates.
And music: story-ballads with shifting keys and chords, like a rap-folk-symphonic fusion, or whalesong. On another foreleg altogether, there's the rowissog, a huge woodwind played at dance festivals, which often sends players into a hyperventilation trance; their visions guide villages. So, to give their social visions a spiritual authority, all Planian politicians play the rowissog (if badly). Surely this is a political first in the galaxy; a hotairarchy. Or, as those who've endured the rowissog will attest, Darwinian survival of the deafest.

Map of Serrana, a world-building experiment. Click a feature to go there.
TOUR SERRANA! Click a region for a detailed ground-level tour: Aburros Sea - Woble Range - Yanneba Basin and Plano - Mosnoll and Eronit Basins - The Tsud Desert - Eamet Ocean and South Pole - Leas, Niirg, and Narek: The Lesser Seas - The Rakach Plateau and the Northlands

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