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For an Ice Storm, Warm Planets From the Sci-fi Universe


So as I’m writing this column I have a weather Web site open in another tab, and it’s showing me a Winter Storm Warning Notice that goes a little something like this: “COLD, WINTRY DEATH IS BEARING DOWN UPON YOU. YOU WILL BE TRAPPED INSIDE YOUR HOUSE FOR MONTHS AND WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE WHICH PET TO CONSUME. THE DOG LOOKS MEATY. WARNING: THE DOG IS THINKING THE SAME THING ABOUT YOU.” Bear in mind I’m paraphrasing a bit, but, really, that’s the gist of it.

It’s times like these that I wish I were somewhere else. Not California or Hawaii or Australia. Some place really far away, where snow and ice and the various yeti camping out on my lawn don’t exist, and winter is nothing but a horrible fairy tale they tell bad children about to get them to behave. Places such as you will find — in science-fiction films. Below you will find some of the places where I dream of avoiding winter, with the benefits — and occasional drawbacks — of each.

Arrakis (Dune)

Pros: You like blue skies? Arrakis has got them, with an average of 365 cloudless days a year. The low humidity and pollen counts are beneficial to
those who suffer from allergies. The local indigenous culture is very spiritual
and in touch with the planet. The endless desert is hypnotically beautiful.
Great planet to work on that tan. And if you like spicy food, well, this
is definitely the place.

Cons: Outside the cities, things get a little dicey. Upstart rebels may
seek to ruin your peaceful vacation. It’s best not to bring up politics at
all, frankly. Much of the population is addicted to a local drug and may try to
push it on you. You may find it difficult to stay hydrated. Watch where
you step or you may be consumed by a very large worm.
Dagobah (Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back)

Pros: Perfect for those who like their nights steamy and sultry, this jungle planet gives you that bayou feeling all year long. It’s sparsely populated
for those who like their privacy, but the locals are friendly and might
invite you over for a home-cooked meal. The budding herpetologist within you will be delighted by the local fauna. That steam coming off the
water means it’s always the right temperature for a long soak.

Cons:
The natives’ mangling of grammar and syntax suggests that the local school
system leaves much to be desired. It’s hard to find decent parking. The only
building on the planet comes with very low ceilings. Local fauna will
want you to see them from the inside. Occasional pockets of the Dark
Side of the Force may cause discomfort, hallucinations, and deeply
symbolic lightsaber duels.

Pandora (Avatar)

Pros: Looks just like warm, wonderful Hawaii, if Hawaii glowed in the dark. There’s amazing biological diversity. Look up and there’s always something in the sky, whether it’s a large flying creature or the gas
giant that Pandora orbits. It has a truly unique global information
system. Lighter local gravity means you’re lighter on your feet. The local
human outpost has all the creature comforts of home.

Cons:
Humans on the planet have tension-filled relationship with the natives,
who may wish to impale you on an arrow, just on general principle. The local animals are happy to hug you with their teeth. The air is poisonous, which
puts a damper on sunbathing, and it takes six years to get there, which puts it
out of reach for weekend getaways.

Vulcan (Star Trek)

Pros: Looks like New Mexico, so if you like that southwestern kind of vibe, this is the place. The locals are highly intelligent and well educated with a distinctive culture. A perfect place for
meditation and self-examination.

Cons: Locals are famously
lacking a sense of humor, so your “Hot enough for you?” jokes will always fall flat. Depending on which timeline you’re in, Vulcan may have been consumed by a black hole, which will make total relaxation difficult. In either timeline, a totally dead party scene.

And you say, “Well, what about Tatooine?” Man, don’t even get me started on that place: it has two suns and a low standard of living and is run by a feculent mob
boss. The cities are wretched hives of scum and villainy. If you go to
the bars, you’re likely to get shot at or have your arm sliced off. Plus every time I go to Tosche Station, there’s always this annoying teenager there whining about power converters. Thanks, but no. I’d rather sit here in the snow than go there.

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