Being a treatise on VSF and Mars, and on 19th Century colonial warfare in general

(with a nod towards Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, lest I take myself too seriously)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Some Notes on Hill Martians

The Hill Martian tribes that surround the city state of Mylarkt fall into two broad categories.

Those of the Nilosyrtis Hills and Neith Steppes are fully nomadic, dependent upon their gashants to move the vast distances between suitable grazing and only occasionally involved in some temporary agriculture. Most of their needs are met from their herds of gashants and the occasional stand of fnuuk. Water and other liquids tend to be derived from plants which absorb and store the limited moisture available from the air and subsoil.

Those of the Meroe Badlands are largely sedentary and live in villages, raising crops and trading (and sometimes raiding) between communities. Their pastoralism is still semi-nomadic, with youths moving the herds between the limited pasturage in the badlands, similar to seasonal transhumance movements on Earth.

Their agriculture uses some very water-efficient techniques, with much of their water coming from condensation on natural features. These “Wind Bounty” sites are features that channel the humid wind coming up from the grand canal through gorges or tunnels that widen suddenly causing the air to chill and the water vapour to condense into small droplets that gather on the surface of cavern walls. This water gradually filters into underground cisterns that in turn feed irrigation and drinking water networks (the two are typically kept separate) via various natural filtration systems. Most of the sites look to be quite natural, but this seems unlikely given the very similar arrangements of underground cisterns and filtration ponds at different sites. Several Terran scientists are very keen to study these wonders of water collection, but the custodians are understandably reluctant to allow strangers to poke around in their life-supporting water and so their exact provenance and the detail of their design remain mysteries.

Both types of nomad herd gashants as their principal source of meat and transport, with wocnid and wild gashants being hunted. Ganz willoi are typically hunted by children, although some sedentary tribes have been able to domesticate them to some extent. Bush Monkeys are looked on as a nuisance due to their tendency to enter settlements at night, and they driven off or killed where possible. Their meat is taboo, being seen as distant relatives of Hill Martians cursed by the gods for some misdeed in the past (the Nepenthi name for them translates as “unfinished”), but their spikes are often used when making weapons and armour. Teshuwaan are usually attacked on sight due to the threat they present to the gashant herds, and their meat is prized twice over as it both saves the life of a herd animal and delays the need to slaughter one for food.
As in Space:1889 canon, the models for these societies are North American natives. My ideas for the steppe-dwellers are based on Souian cultures, while those for those of the Meroe Badlands come from the Pueblo Indians and others from the South West. In both cases they are derivatives, and are certainly not intended to be direct copies.


PatG said...

Nice to see something different from the usual sub-continent based background.

Clive G said...

Thanks Pat. To be fair it would have been difficult to turn these into Maratha Pindaris! The trick will be to make them into something other than American Indians with pointy ears and funny horses.