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Welcome to Planet Arcadia

A paradise no longer fit for habitation

The planet Arcadia is the setting for my next science fiction novel, Planet Downfall. Arcadia is an ancient word for a place of pastoral beauty and peace. It was another word for utopia.

EarthWhen a beautiful planet was found by a survey ship, in addition to the official designation, it was called Arcadia, in the hope that it would turn out to be a paradise for future colonists. The planet was Earth-like, with verdant land with wildlife, and oceans full of fish. Gravity was 0.8 of Earth, as the planet was smaller than Earth.

Eventually, in the slow way that bureaucracy has, a team of scientists was assembled two years later to go and survey Arcadia on the ground. PACT, the Planetary Alliance for Cooperation and Trade, has rules that any survey team must have at least four different species, so the findings would be shared with everyone. Then the colonisation committee would agree who would colonise the planet, if it were suitable.

This, of course, was great in theory, but didn’t take into account that many scientists were not used to working with other species, compounding the natural difficulties of interpersonal relationships, with cultural differences.

The team sent to Arcadia was led by a Casparan, a ‘little green man’ who made up for his lack of height by his pomposity. One of the females was Zoan, a reptilian species with a free attitude to sex. One of the males was Kohathi, who have very strict mating practices, including the protection (or subservience) of women.

Broken planetTo add to their problems, this arcadian planet was hit by an asteroid, which broke into pieces in the atmosphere, and flung dirt and seawater into the sky. As the clouds spread, the impacts set off long-dormant tectonic shifts, resulting in earthquakes, eruptions and tsunamis. For the survey team, this paradise rapidly became a hell and they needed rescuing urgently. But that wasn’t their only problem. To find out what the other problem was, you’ll have to wait and read the book.

Ann Marie Thomas authorAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at