Weather As Art
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, many of us are wishing that we had some sort of control over the weather. Science fiction writer John Varley even thought about how we might become weather artists in his 1976 novel The Phantom of Kansas. Remarkably, there are real weather artists who try to make what beauty they can from nature's worst storms.
The novel is set on Earth's moon; enormous interior caverns are dug to create vast lunar disneylands, spaces in which Earthlike environments are simulated:
The Kansas disneyland was one of the newer ones, and one of the largest. It is a hollowed-out cylinder twenty kilometers beneath Clavius. It measures two hundred and fifty kilometers in diameter and is five kilometers high. The curvature of the floor is consistent with Old Earth so the horizon is terrifyingly far away. Only the gravity is Lunar.
(Read more about the lunar disneyland)
These caverns were big enough to have their own weather, and they did. People who programmed the weather started out with nice days, but eventually started tinkering until the storms and sunsets were good enough to be able to charge admission. One of the best artistic creations was called Cyclone:
Cyclone has a definite beginning, however. At least to the audience. It begins with the opening bolt of lightning. I worked on it a long time, and designed it to shatter nerves. There is the slow building of thunderheads ... then it hits. It crashes in at seventeen points in a ring around the audience, none further away than a half a kilometer. It is poperly called chain lightning, because after the initial discharge it keeps flashing for a full seven seconds. It's designed to take the hair right off your scalp...
(Read more about this environmental happening)
In the mid-nineteen seventies, artist Walter de Maria created The Lightning Field near Quemado, New Mexico. It consisted of 400 stainless steel poles averaging just over twenty feet in height. The overall dimensions were 5,280 x 3,300 feet.
(From The Lightning Field)
Writers sometimes say you should write what you know, advice Varley took to heart with his story. He had a childhood encounter with Hurricane Andrew in Port Arthur, Texas. A category 4 storm, it killed hundreds of people in nearby Louisiana.
The earliest science fiction reference I know about for control of the weather is in John Jacob Astor's 1894 novel A Journey in Other Worlds - people use aeriducts to make rain at will; complete control over all weather is also foreseen. Other more modern references include the weather integrators found in Robert Heinlein's 1940 novel Methuselah's Children and the regular showers in the lunar habitats from Arthur C. Clarke's 1955 novel Earthlight. Human beings have, of course, been trying to figure out how to manipulate the weather since the dawn of recorded history.
Thanks to Blue Monkey for contributing the tips on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/13/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.' - Bruce Sterling, 1985.
Bot Tweets Venmo Drug Transactions
An alarming item to find on your twitter feed.
Ontario Starts Guaranteed Minimum Income
'Earned by just being born.'- Philip Jose Farmer, 1967.
Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?' - Richard Morgan, 2003.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.
ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.
When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'
Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'
'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'
Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'
Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'
Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.
Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'
Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories