Sunday, May 01, 2011

Clouds

Clouds fascinate me, and in building alien worlds, I certainly want to use them.
I'm in good company. One of the most memorable uses of clouds was in the Mike Hodges version
of "Flash Gordon" (the version with several members of the old Department S cast, and a very
young and gorgeous Timothy Dalton, and Brian Blessed, and Topol.)

That Empire had cloud worlds, with castles literally in the clouds. Then, there is Bespin,
the gas world, with a Cloud City where Lando rules.... sort of.

The floating islands of Pandora in Atavar behave like clouds. I did not pick up whether they
float because they contain unobtainium, or because unobtainium is below them. Or both.

Dramatic use of cloud cover was evident in Independence Day.

So much for the movie fangirl stuff, if I can say that without unintentionally offending anyone.
What would an alien call clouds? This is where it gets interesting to me.

Did you know that we name our clouds according to how high they are and what shape they are?

Cirro or cirrus means "high up", for instance.
Cumulus comes from the Latin word for a "heap".

Cirro-cumulus would mean "high up heap".

Find a synonym for high, and a synonym for heap, and you have world-building.

By the way, I just heard a student read a modern, Politically Correct definition of "smog". If smog
were the result of "exhaust gases", why isn't it "exhog" ?  Historically, it is smog because it is "smoke" + "fog". The smoke was from dirty coal smoke from chimneys.

Political correctness is another rich seam to mine for plots and conflict!

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