Earth as an YZ planet, with rivers shown

This article is based on an almost unknown Soviet sci-fi novel, Silent Empire. Even if it is a science-fiction novel, it is entirely focused on terraforming, space colonization, future wars and birth of new fanatic races. Many ideas from that book are revolutionary and should be analyzed in detail. These ideas are worth to be analyzed on a terraforming wiki.

Plot Edit

The action starts around year 3000, when many people thought that soon after this year the end of all world is near. Many prophets come and say the sky will rain demons.

The novel describes future history of mankind, after the year 2000. This includes terraforming and colonization of the whole Solar System. New habitable worlds are Venus, Mars, the 4 large moons of Jupiter, Titan, Neptune and Triton. Earth is scourged by deadly weather, half of the planet is a desert and half is covered by glaciers, badly polluted and destroyed by deadly diseases. Because of the risk of contaminating any other planet, the Earth is under a strict embargo.

In 2270, new states became independent around the Solar System: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Piazzi Federation (includes the asteroids), Galileo Federation (Jupiter), Cassini Federation (Saturn) and Le Verrier Federation (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and 3 planets beyond Pluto). The last federation is divided into Herschel, Neptune and Lowell federations.

However, humans don't stop here and expand towards the nearby star systems. At the year 2600, there are two major powers: Sirius and Barnard, each located at one star. They are both listed as empires, but their central power is very weak. Still, their strong economies and high population densities make them the world superpowers. There are other empires, inhabiting all nearby stars and many rough planets.

The year 2666 is the year of a huge space war. The bad guys are not a state, but a form of artificial intelligence called living stars that devour anything for energy. The whole world is facing danger from them. The living stars multiply around the star UV Ceti and destroy it, transforming it into a small black hole, then spread towards other solar systems. Every state and empire tries on its own the best to stop them. They are stopped, thanks to a hacker who reprograms them to self-destruct.

Around the year 2800, we find many new states: around Procyon a fanatic religious state, around the Pleiades many rogue dictatorships, around EZ Aquarii a state that is growing humans in farms to sell them as slaves and around Altair the rebirth of a Communist dream. Humans seem to keep on expanding throughout the Universe.

The year 3000 brings two new super-powers: Rigel and Deneb. They are the largest empires in the world.

However, the UV Ceti black hole formed in 2666 actually opened a passage towards a Silent Galaxy, a very old galaxy formed at the beginning of time (the author believes the Universe is 240 billion years old). Unknown for everyone, around the year 2450, a group of adventurers drove one of the fastest spaceships in history and reached this galaxy. There, without any contact with the rest of the world, they did their best to develop Galactic Colonization. They made billions of clones, to colonize all planets, that they terraformed before. They drained energy from stars and created galactic highways by altering the fabric of space. Everything worked just fine until the living stars came in and destroyed their galactic empire. After the self-destruct of all living stars, the few survivals could not maintain the empire and remained as scattered colonies isolated on remote planets. But, since the wormhole remained open until 2900, many outlaws and escaped convicts managed to go through. Inside the new galaxy, they developed their own states, started to fight with each other and massacred part of the existing population.

Around 2900, there was a dreamer, who called himself Messiah Darwin. He was a super-evolutionist. He was convinced about evolution of the Universe and of life. He tried to build the Church Of Evolution, where people were worshipping nature. However, at some point, he tried to figure out where evolution would leave. He thought that the future of mankind was a different one: to keep on evolving, accumulating of knowledge, to subdue all the Universe and to become the absolute ruler over nature. He concluded that humans, after billions of years, will be more powerful then anyone could imagine. At some point, humans will actually evolve until they will become gods. He called the future god race Futurers. Since one Futurer should have all power over space, time and matter, he concluded that the whole Universe was made by a single Futurer who came across time, from the end to the beginning and created matter, space and time. In his point of view, the way everything evolved in the Universe shows the amazing ability of that Futurer to project everything, up to the movement of every atom, for 240 billion years.

However, at this point, Messiah Darwin made a catastrophic error in his judgment. The fact that he was the only one to realize about the Futurers made him think that he is one of them, that he created the Universe and after that creation he managed to go to this time. His mission was to create a race that will evolve back to his pretended power, to create gods. Because everyone was against him, he crossed the UV Ceti wormhole (which collapsed after him) and found himself a star that he named UZ Ceti (in Cyrillic alphabet U is written like an Y and this is where the name YZ Planet comes from). He realizes that the galaxy is very old, that UZ/YZ star is very old, one of the first stars created in the Universe. He noticed that the planet is terraformed and also he founds some ruins that must be very old. This way, he believes that he arrived at the place where the first Futurer settled after creating the Universe. He was convinced that that Futurer was himself.

There, he builds a colony, entirely populated with clones made from his own DNA. Until his death, the colony expands and covers the planet. All his descendants are called Futurers and all are indoctrinated by him.

The Futurers are not born, but grown in incubators. Even as embryos, they are castrated and the genitals are grown separately in incubators. During their youth, all they face is an ever learning process, followed by exams. Based on their marks, they are divided in casts. They have no idea about a family, about parents and religion. All they know is that they must research to get all the knowledge in the Universe, they must evolve up to a god-like race and they must rule the universe.

By the time they reach Population Limit on their planet, they start expanding. Each planet they find suitable for terraforming, they terraform and transform it into a similar planet. And each time they find humans (which they call Suboids), they enslave them. Suboids go through a severe test, so that only 20% survive. As Futurers expand into the Universe, they conquer and destroy all states. The new Suboids are used as slaves.

At some point, Futurers manage to re-activate the wormhole and reach back to the Milky Way. They infiltrate into Rigel state and conquer it. Then, they conquer each state until the last one, Deneb, falls behind them.

During the next centuries, all Futurers do their best to evolve into a superior race. All their efforts are focused on this. And except for a few fugitives that managed to run to remote galaxies, all mankind is in their slavery. All humans (Suboids) are their slaves. Each Suboid is teached that its purpose in life is to help Futurers to evolve. At adolescence, all Suboids are tested. Superor women (50% of all women) are sent to farms, to get birth, together with 5% of all men. Inferior women (50% of all women) are castrated and sent to temples, where they worship the Futurers all day and all night. The remining 95% population of men are castrated and sent to work.

The empire of the Futurers lasts a few centuries. Nothing seems to endanger it, until their leader, the Supreme Futurer, reaches Earth and finds out about ruins of former worship temples (a church or a mosque). Furious, he kicks the ruins and a voice tells him: Up to the havens you climbed yourself, down to the hell you will fall! and he instantly dies. All Futurers await his orders in vain, but never have the courage to do anything on their own. The empire falls apart soon, as the incubators run out of control and fry the new Futurer embryos and the conserved genitals. Without the creation of new Futurers, the race decays fast.

As the Futurers get old and less powerful, Suboids try their best to help them. However, at some point all Suboids find themselves alone in space, with no Futurer to give them order. During this time, comes an era of famine, as Suboids struggle to survive the falling empire. However, at the end of the novel, comes a moment when all Suboids find themselves alone, with no Futurer to give order. They realize that Messiah Darwin is not a god and abandon his temples. On their own, they start to work together and form a Communist economy, where each one works for the good of all. The year is 3333.

During all the time, Futurers and later Suboids transform each planet into a close model to the planet in YZ Ceti. Basically, the whole Universe becomes full with YZ planets. Even planets and moons in the Solar System are transformed.

YZ Planet Edit


The Earth as an YZ planet, with air currents, ice limits and climatic zones. The vertical lines show limits between eternal day and eternal light and the center of the day hemisphere

The original YZ planet has undergone massive transformations. At first, it was an Outer Planet. Excess ice and gasses were removed. Then, its core was cooled, to stop any volcanic activity. The planet then was moved closer to its sun, to the habitable zone. And at that point, its rotation was slowed until it became tidal locked.

Since all rotating planets have an ellipsoidal form, the equatorial diameter is higher then the polar diameter. As the planet becomes tidal locked, close to the equator a megacontinent rises, completely separating water into two polar oceans. The shores are roughly at the parallel 45, but peninsulas and islands stretch forward to the parallel 55. Gulfs enter inland to the parallel 35. In the center, there is a high mountain range rising between 5000 to 12000 meters high.

rivers flow from the central mountain range towards the oceans, with high slopes. They have many waterfalls. There are also a few lakes. However, majority of Geographic patterns are altered by digging river valleys and building artificial mountains.

Weather patterns are interesting. On the day side, winds blow from the poles towards the continent. As they move, they gradually heat and accumulate moisture. Once they reach the continent, they are turned East and West. On the continent there are no deserts, since it is raining often. Close to the shores, the climate is hot and wet, hotter then in equatorial forests. However, as air currents reach deeper into the continent, the air is forced to climb, loses moisture and brings water to places that are colder. As the wind further moves towards East and West, there are less rains and air temperature slowly drops. Climate is similar to savannas and steppes. Close to the East and West borders of the illuminated hemisphere, the shores are covered with temperate forests, only that here seasons don't exist. It is an eternal spring.

Air currents almost don't pass over mountain tops, so every hemisphere is a separate biosphere. Mountains higher then 9000 meters are an impenetrable barrier for clouds, who suddenly drop all their moisture there, accounting for 50% of river water supply. Above this limit, mountains are dry and uninhabitable.

The dark hemisphere has a different climate pattern. Air currents enter this hemisphere from East and West, with temperatures of 5 to 20 degrees C and left almost with no moisture. Winds here blow towards the center of the hemisphere and then towards the poles. As air currents move, they descend towards the coast and get cooler. Along the coast, there is a significant area where temperatures are above freezing, but since there is almost no rain, the area resembles a desert. Closer to the equator, even near the border with the illuminated hemisphere, temperature reaches water freezing point. However, since the air has only limited moisture, it rains or snows only on rare occasions. As we get closer to the center of the dark hemisphere, temperatures reach and stay below freezing. What little snows, accumulates here.

As cold air moves from the continent to the poles, most of the ocean on the dark hemisphere is frozen.

Oceans share strange currents. On the illuminated hemisphere, major currents move from the poles to the continent and then along the shores. On the dark hemisphere, currents move water to the center of the hemisphere and from there to the poles. As a result, there is always an ice cap close to the poles, but icebergs never reach the continent on the illuminated hemisphere. On the dark hemisphere, on the other hand, there are navigable waters that stretch for about 60 meridians along the coast.

Agriculture is largely practiced on the illuminated hemisphere. On the dark hemisphere, the only source of food might be rare oceanic fish. Also, all major cities are on the illuminated hemisphere, together with industrial centers. On the dark side, only a few mines can be seen.

Hydro power provides all energy needed. Rivers fall from altitudes of 8000 meters to the sea level, with an almost constant slope. If Earth were an YZ planet, there will be 5000 km from the equator to the shores. Given an average altitude of 9000 m at the equator, the slope would be of 1.8 meters per km. This might be small for a mountain river, but it is a too high value for a large river. The Nile, for example, falls 200 m (from Aswan to its delta) in over 1000 km. This will result in massive erosion in downstream sections of each river. There will be many rapids and waterfalls that will block any attempt for navigation.

Given the fact that the planet is tidal locked, there should be no or almost no tides.

Transportation will be interesting. Close to the shores, there will be two large corridors oriented East - West. They will be made to handle massive traffic and at high speeds. As they cross into the dark hemisphere, the corridors are made for less traffic and at some point they stop, without reaching the center of the hemisphere. Other two corridors cross East - West, through lower depressions and allow access between hemispheres. They are also made to handle much traffic, but given the high altitude they need to reach, traffic will be much slower and passenger vehicles will have oxygen masks. From the two East - West corridors, smaller transport routes go North-South, reaching the coast and going up towards the equator, but without reaching it. In the novel, the two E-W and the two N-S corridors are high speed railways. Parallel lines, that cross the E-W lines, are average-speed railways. There are also low-speed railways that detached from these ones, but never from E-W or N-S lines. All trains are automated and are commanded to form once you push a button in any station.

Land is divided into square regions, each one marked by a parallel and a meridian. Each region has its own administrative structure, like a county or an oblast and each region is equal in rights with the other ones. Also, each planet has a higher autonomy range, like an US state or an autonomous republic.

As Futurers spread through the Universe, any planet they encounter is transformed as much as possible into an YZ planet. In order to do so, they go to dramatic changes. Sometimes, this requires a complete rearrangement of a solar system, removal of some planets (including gas giants) to outer orbits, heating cores and spinning-up of tidal locked planets to form an equatorial bulge, then cooling the cores and de-spinning, major transformation of Geographic features, removal or addition of water and other changes. However, the most important change they always do is cleanup. During this phase, they remove all remnants of former civilizations: buildings and any structures. They are always covered with deep layers of ground and in fact this is the main reason for creation of artificial mountains. But later, as Suboids take their destiny into their own hands, they keep transforming planets in the same manner.

The Earth as an YZ planet Edit


Earth as an YZ planet, showing transport routes. The denser the routes, the more populated each place will be

National Geographic made an interesting documentary What if the Earth stopped spinning?. What would the Earth become is somehow a similar to an YZ planet. In the documentary, the Earth stops spinning at all, but still orbits around the Sun. As this happens, the day becomes an year long. Earth does not become a Tidal Locked Planet, but more similar to a Low - spinning planet. However, the shape with an equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans is just how an YZ planet would look like.

Let's suppose that the Earth is transformed into an YZ planet. First thing we will notice is a massive change of shorelines. In order to make the planet tidal locked, I arbitrary drawn the zero meridian (where the Sun will be always seen at noon) through Paris.

Europe will be almost completely submerged. Southern Spain, Southern Italy, Southern Greece and a few islands where the Alps and Balkans once were, is all that will be left. Desperate, Europeans will flee to the remaining land, but many of them will flee to the nearest dry surface, Africa.

The Russian Federation (or in fact the Soviet Union, given the time when the book was written) will be completely submerged. Only the Caucasus and the Pamir will survive. But there are already local people.

The Middle East will face an interesting scenario. The Indian Ocean will become dryland, with a few locked seas. However, just North, there will be ocean. Turkey will be at the shores of Northern Ocean, so will be Iran, even if it will lose its connection to the Indian Ocean. The climate will be like it never was. Winds from North will bring rains in the deserts of Iran and Arabia. The old Arab dream of agriculture will become reality. However, India will not be so lucky. The Himalayas will block winds from North. The Indian plains will become steppe or even desert. At its high altitudes, Tibet will be like it is now, maybe with more rains. However, to North, the Tarim Desert will become a paradise for agriculture.

China, Japan and South Korea will survive, but will be on the dark side. North Korea will survive as small islands. In South, Indochina, the Philippines and Indonesia will rise as high mountain ranges. They will block wind currents. Since they will be on the dark side, they will be covered with ice.

Africa will face an interesting climate. Sahara will receive enough rain to become like an equatorial jungle. However, since it will be strongly exposed to solar light, temperatures will reach very high values. Central Africa, including Congo, will be a place with altitudes of 10000 m. The sun will be always above your head there. Land will become a desert, overheated and almost dead. This should be the best place in the world for building solar panels. South to Congo, winds will bring oceanic moisture and will maintain a hot, wet climate. However, given the high altitudes, land will be almost uninhabitable.

The Indian Ocean will witness interesting changes. As South as Madagascar, it will be above sea level, forming a large plain or hilly terrain, with low altitudes. Close to the Southern shores, there will be a very good climate, where many refugees will come together. To the North, where less water will reach, there will be a steppe.

The Atlantic Ocean will partially become dry. The sheet of land stretches between Africa and South America. There, the climate is, at least close to the ocean, just perfect for humans. This should be the best place for refugees from Europe, Africa and both Americas to come and start a new life. Across the equator, altitudes don't rise too much. This is the best place to go between North and South. However, there will be a small place, near Guinea, where a local desert should form.

South America will be highly elevated. Brazil, Venezuela, they will be just too high for the air to be breathable. Settlers will have to go away from there. The Andes will be further elevated (and almost become the highest mountains on Earth), blocking air currents. However, Southern Argentina will be submerged. The remaining land in South will be the only habitable place.

North America will be almost completely flooded. Only the Southern USA will remain above see level, but everything West from Louisiana will be on eternal darkness. Canada is submerged. From Central America, all land is above sea level and a few large inland seas are born. There could be new land for American people.

The Pacific Ocean will be engulfed in eternal darkness, except for a small area West to South America. A long sheet of land will stretch from America to Asia, but it will not be as smooth as the Atlantic or Indian exposed seabed. For a limited area, hot air and wind currents will keep temperatures above freezing. As the Philippines and Indonesia will rise and become high mountain ranges (highest altitude will be in Papua New Guinea), they will block warm currents from Asia. The land North to Papua, East to the Philippines and South to Japan will be the coldest place on Earth.

Australia will be on the dark side. It will be above surface, but most probably ice-covered.

Both Greenland and Antarctica will be submerged. As a direct result, their ice will be free-floating for a while, until heat from lower water layers will melt most of this ice. It will only take a few years to happen and will result in a sharp increase of sea level.

It is interesting to see that on an YZ Earth model, air currents will not be completely separated between South and North hemispheres. There will be places for mixing. The high plateaus of Congo and the Amazon are good examples. There, winds can shift between South and North. The same will happen in the Pacific Sheet, on the dark hemisphere, about 3000 km West from America. Also, there will be two currents that will constantly blow from North to South and from South to North. The first current will bring air from the Middle East towards North Indian Ocean. The second one will allow some air to pass from South to North Atlantic.

The river network on our planet will dramatically change. Rivers flowing towards the equator will find their slopes decreasing and even reversed, until water will start flowing backwards. As this happens, water will accumulate behind natural obstacles: mountains, hills and plateaus. Lakes will be formed, but at some point water will pass over the top of the mountains and will fly towards the poles. Rivers that flow towards East or West may keep their current path if they have a large obstacle close to the poles. If not, they will change course. Only rivers that naturally flow away from the equator will keep their current direction. The main difference for them is an increase of slope, that will make them flow faster, with many rapids and erode their valleys.

In Africa, The Nile will be the longest river that will survive mostly unchanged. Many rivers will flow in the former Sahara, all of them to North. All African rivers will exit the former continent with huge rapids and waterfalls, sometimes up to 5000 m high.

On the dry Atlantic land, a few rivers will form. Ocean floor is composed of submerged hills, canyons and mountains. rivers will find themselves blocked in many lakes and will have a lot of short waterfalls. However, after some time, many lakes will be silted and erosion will form valleys.

In South America, the Amazon will cease to exist. Its waters will flow to South. Again, all rivers will flow from altitudes above 8000 meters to sea level. Much energy could be produced this way. In Argentina, some of the existing rivers can survive. In North America, rivers will flow to North. The Mississippi will be naturally reversed.

By far the most interesting hydrology will be seen in the former Indian Ocean. The Sea Of Arabia will remain as an inland sea, but it will receive water through new rivers, from as far as Madagascar. Even if this sea will be in an arid region, the excess of water will make it flow through the Persian Gulf North through Syria into the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Ocean. The Red Sea will be in a more humid climate. Near the Suez Canal, a small sea will survive and its waters will pour through the canal into the Mediterranean. Bi far the longest river on Earth will become the Ganges. It will flow from the Himalayas (that will remain at their current altitude), partially through its former valley. After exiting Bangladesh, the Ganges will pass a huge waterfall. Then, it will head South, flowing on the former ocean floor, all the way to the Southern Ocean.

It could be questioned if the oceans will be in equilibrium. It looks that there will be a few rivers in North receiving some water from South and a few rivers in South receiving water from North. It looks like the Northern Ocean will benefit of a slightly higher amount of water. The process can be changed if some massive work is done. The highest thread for oceans is the fact that snow will fall on the dark side and water will slowly accumulate there. However, since most of precipitations fall on the illuminated hemisphere, there will not be much snow for the dark side.

Population will be located in certain areas. The best places for human life are not the former continents, but the exposed ocean floors. The Atlantic Ocean will probably be the best place to live, followed by the Indian Ocean. High population densities could be found on the North coast of Africa, on remaining European islands, on the North coast of Asia and in the Northern and Southern ends of Americas. This will influence development of transport routes. Just like on every YZ planet, a major transportation route will be built along the North coast and another one along the South coast. Both will have to pass through some difficult terrain. In North, most difficult will be passing the Bahamas en route to North America. In South, there will be two difficult zones: one as crossing South Africa and one while crossing the rough terrains of Chile. The third most important route will connect the North and the South across the Atlantic, following an easy route.

In places with high population density, additional routes will be built. However, in less populated areas, like highlands of former equatorial continents and the dark side, there will be only mining and some industrial activity. A few long, third class routes, should connect these regions to the civilized world.

An YZ planet has an interesting and unique ecosystem. Creation of such a planet requires massive changes to everything that was there before and can sometimes be seen as a mutilation of the former Geographic structures. The lesson an YZ planet teaches us, as well as the lesson from the novel that first pictured such a world, is that sometimes charismatic leaders and dictatorships force people to follow their ideas, destroying everything that is not according to their visions and building at huge costs things that could be better done in other ways, with less costs and better results.

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