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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Culture ")

Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.' - Larry Niven, 1972.

Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.' - Bruce Sterling, 1994.

North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.' - Philip K Dick, 1954.

Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...' - Marshall Brain, 2002.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.

Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'

Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'

China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'

Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'

New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'

Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'

Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.'

Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...'

BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.