There are four types of SF planets

Bill Roach, creator of the Terraformer add-on for Fractal Terrains, puts forward the rather contentious theory that there are only four types of planets in SF. These images, created using Fractal Terrains and Terraformer form the sturdiest pillar of his argument:

Terraformer is available from the Profantasy registration page, or here.

9 Responses to “There are four types of SF planets”

  1. Left out ocean world and city world!

  2. Okay, I see from the link he specifically rules out city worlds, for (to my mind) spurious reasons. Sorry.

  3. Where’s the purple ones?

  4. The ocean world is just a melted ice world!

  5. There is the non-rotating world. One side always towards the sun frys, the other side freezes. Habitable band in between. The amount of water avalible would be the factor in what type of climate/vegitation would be in the band of livable dirt.

  6. Ben:
    The four type (4x) classification system (my – but aren’t I “hoity toity fancy schmancy”) is based on climate – rather than terrain. Your talking about a tidally locked Earth like world – which theoretically can only exist orbiting an “M” class red dwarf star roughly only three times the size of Jupiter. Such a planet would actually be relatively warm all over on it’s surface because massive storm systems constantly forming and circulating at the boundary between the “cold” and “Warm” sides would pump – or “advect” warm and cold air currents around the entire planet. As such – the planet could either be a steamy swamp world, a stormy temporate world, or a desert world riddled with constant massive sand storms – but oddly enough, would probably not be able to maintain large areas of what we would cal1 Arctic or “polar” glacial zones due to warm air advection – so – it could NOT be an “ice world”.

  7. I disagree with this premise.
    James H Schmidt for example had a world that was one massive city in his Telzey Amberdon series. In his Niles Etland books he has a waterworld where there are Polar icecaps & most of the “Land” is floating mats of vegetation.
    In the Honor Harrington series the worlds are varied. Some need Life Support domes to survive on, some have extremes in weather, another is a heavy gravity world that only the mountaintops are habitable.
    For extreme – try the environment of H. Beam Piper’s “Four Day Planet”.
    Also there’s the classic Airless rock!
    Quite a few different options if you read SF outside of mainstream movie pap.

  8. Sven,
    As for the James H. Schmidt examples:
    #1, The “City Planet” that you described seems to follow the “Coruscant” formula – in that it is either an urban devlopement sprall completely covering a world that falls under the four big categories – or it is not a natural ‘terrestrial” world at all – in which case it does not technically qaulify for the argument.

    #2, The Niles Etland example of an ocean world with ice caps would of course fall under the “temperate” catagory of my examples – since it would have to have a temperate climate to support BOTH ice caps – and a “mostly” liquid surface.

    #3, Citing the examples of the Honor Harrington series – firstly – my four major categories cover habitable terrestrial worlds (Earth like worlds where humans can exist with very little or no artificial biological support).Worlds that require domes to be built over cities, promoting artificial life sustaining atmosphere, would disqaulify such a world as being truly “habitable” in the truest sense. Also – worlds with extreme weather conditions still fall somewhere under the four major categories that I have described for “naturally” habitable “Earth like” worlds. Extreme weather does not disqaulify a world from being even somewhat Earth like.

    #4, A planet where gravitational anomalies that would force the inhabitants to move to high elevations could still fall under my categorical system IF the climate and atmospheric composition would allow folks to live there without the need of domes, sealed habitats, or space / pressure suits.

    Finally – I have read Sci Fi outside of “popular movie pap”. As a matter of fact – I can fondly remember leafing through an Issac Asimov or Harlan Ellison offering once or twice at the library in my younger days.

  9. Non-sense. There can be colder earth type world, like an ice age world; lots of tundra, heavier arctic. Ocean worlds with tiny islands, volcanically active worlds which are not the same as desert worlds. The universe is more interesting then any of us probably know.

    “The ocean world is just a melted ice world!”

    Says who?