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Single-Biome Planets in literature.


  • Subverted in Bruce Coville's novel Aliens Ate My Homework. When the characters are walking through a swamp on Earth, one of the aliens becomes nostalgic for his home. Rod asks if he comes from a swamp planet, and his companion retorts, "Do you come from a swamp planet?"
  • Animorphs:
    • Played straight for dramatic purposes. One Yeerk in book 6 mutters about the insane number of species Earth has, while the Yeerk character in book 19 is even more impressed with Earth. The Yeerks artificially make the planets they conquer Single Biome Planets because they find millions of species on one planet far too complicated and pointless.
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    • Another example that both does and doesn't fit the planet archetypes is Ket, homeworld of The Ellimist. At first glance it looked just like a standard volcanic planet. But it was in fact a low-gravity world with a very dense atmosphere, which allowed for giant crystals to float freely in the atmosphere. The planet's civilisation of winged aliens lived entirely on (and off) those crystals. One character calls it "the rarest of all environments".
    • The Hork-Bajir homeworld is a valley planet (sort of. It's justified by a catastrophic impact in the past which left a ring of steep valley around the equator as the only habitable part of the planet. Come to think of it, between the valleys, the Outside, and the Deep, it's got quite a bit of diversity over quite a small habitable area). The Hork-Bajir world apparently was once closer to Earth's atmosphere, just with less oxygen and more nitrogen. After the impact the 'real' race of the planet realized that the small equator, while liveable, was highly unstable. Unable to terraform but masters of genetics they created the Hork-Bajir (who feed on bark) and gave them a diet that would make THEM take care of the trees and the environment. The Deep, an area with numerous monsters, was created by the original race to keep the Hork-Bajir from bothering them (they live on the other side).
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    • Leera is almost entirely water, with one small continent. The inhabitants are frog-like aliens who spend most of the time underwater; they use to lay their eggs on land, but modern technology makes that unnecessary, which is why they don't mind blowing it the hell up in their war with the Yeerks.
  • "Beachworld", a short story by Stephen King, is a very creepy deconstruction of an all-desert planet.
  • While averted, for the most part, in Mikhail Akhmanov and Christopher Nicholas Gilmore's Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise, the planet Solaris is 97% water with several hundred islands making up the only dry land. The name, of course, comes from Stanisław Lem's eponymous novel, and is lampshaded in-universe, although the first-person titular protagonist points out that this Solaris doesn't have a sentient ocean. The colonists live on those islands and enjoy nice weather (something you wouldn't have on a world that's mostly water). Additionally, the flora and fauna appears to be stuck in the Sillurian Period, meaning there's nothing in the water to threaten humans. Instead, humans have introduced fish (the kind that can be fished, not the kind that can eat you whole) and sea mammals (e.g. dolphins, whales).
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  • The System in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates! comprises an ocean world, a forest world, a desert world and an ice world. However, this is far from the weirdest thing about them, and it's made very clear that The System feels under no obligation to do anything that our universe would consider "making sense".
  • Frank Herbert's Dune:
    • Arrakis, the eponymous world, is a justified textbook example of a Desert Planet, with the nomadic Fremen and the black market on water. For example, the planet's polar regions are mentioned as a source for water traders. Herbert also explains why a desert world without any forests can maintain the CO2/O2 balance required for humans to survive. (It has to do with the worms, which release oxygen into the atmosphere.) There's a massive amount of detail on the biochemistry, ecosystem and geography in the Appendices that really show he did the research. The reason it's all desert is mostly because the constant movement of the sandworms (which can grow to be hundreds or thousands of meters long and wide and are incredibly strong) means that the crust is being constantly churned into sand.
    • Partially averted in the sequels. As humanity terraforms the planet and the Sandworm population decreases, significant portions of Arrakis become lush temperate forests. And significant portions of the universe, subsequently, become fucked for natural Spice. Be careful what you wish for!
    • There's also Caladan, apparently an Ocean World; Giedi Prime, a polluted city planet; and non-canon Draconis IV, an ice planet.
  • Alan Dean Foster:
    • Many Humanx Commonwealth novels were set on his own versions of Death World (Prism in Sentenced to Prism), Desert Planet (Jast in Sliding Scales, Pyrassis in Reunion), Ice Planet (Tran-Ky-Ky in Icerigger, Treetrunk on Dirge), Ocean Planet (Cachalot), Jungle Planet (Midworld), Jungle In A Swamp Planet (Fluva in Drowning World), Even Soggier Than Vancouver Pine Forest Planet (Moth in For Love Of Mother-Not), etc. He's even got Cave Planet (Longtunnel), No Biochemical Barriers Planet (Quofum), and Vacation Paradise Planet (New Riviera) thrown into the mix.
      • Notably, his Icerigger sub-series offers one of the most detailed accounts of natives' physical and technological adaptations to an Ice Planet in fiction.
    • His Star Wars Legends novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye was set on the Swamp Planet Mimban.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.
    • The planet Trantor is the capital of the Galactic Empire and is a City Planet: its land surface and a significant part of its oceans are completely covered with human buildings. It has a population of 40 billion and its food needs are served by the agricultural output of 20 Farm Planets.
    • Foundation and Empire has two mentions of farm planets: the agricultural planets of the Pleiades and the twenty agricultural planets that supplied food to Trantor.
    • Foundation and Earth features the planet Alpha, which is completely covered by water except for a single (though large) artificially created island.
  • The Hainish novels of Ursula K. Le Guin:
    • In The Left Hand of Darkness, the planet of Winter (otherwise known as Gethen) is, predictably, an Ice Planet. However, what a few different characters observe is that Gethen is actually very similar to Earth, except that the story takes place in the middle of one of the Ice Ages. A native character remarks that the scientists have predicted a rise in temperatures across the planet and a mass melting of the ice. The character observes, "I'm glad I won't be around to see that."
    • The Word for World Is Forest: While the name would lead one to expect Athshe to be a Forest Planet, it's mostly an Ocean Planet. The only land is an comparatively small archipelago covered in forest. While the native name "Athshe" means "Forest," its colonial name "New Tahiti" reflects its nature as an Ocean Planet dotted with a few islands.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few of these, including Ursa Minor Beta, which has a truly improbable geography of warm oceans and thin sandy strips of land, meaning the entire world is basically luxurious beachfront property. Taken a bit further in that the time of day is always that time on a Saturday afternoon just before the bars close. The absurdity of this is noted, and its citizens tell each other to "have a nice diurnal anomaly." Of course, the series also establishes that in ages past the planet of Magrathea used to craft planets to order for the very rich, so it's entirely possible that these are all custom jobs.
  • Averted, with a few exceptions, in The History of the Galaxy series, although usually only a small part of the planet is described. Erigon is known as an ice world (Ice Planet), and the colonists had to dig in and build subglacial cities in order to survive. After 1000 years, most of the colonists have moved to other worlds. The only ones who are left run the tourism for anyone who still cares to see the ice world. Interestingly, after 1000 years of space exploration, most humans have emigrated from Earth. The oceans have somehow dried up, and are now replaced with lush jungles, effectively turning the planet into a jungle world.
  • Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos novels include several of these: The ecumenopolises of Tau Ceti Center and Renaissance Vector, the ocean planet of Maui-Covenant, the Forest Planet of God's Grove, etc. Because all the planets are connected together in a single WorldWeb this doesn't appear to be a problem, though the ecological absurdity of this becomes a plot point when the network of Farcasters connecting the planets collapse, causing single-city planets to starve... except for Renaissance Vector, which conveniently got its food from Renaissance Minor, an agricultural world in the same system.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space:
    • The planet Beanstalk, seen in one Man-Kzin Wars story, is maintained as a pole-to-pole "gardened" Forest Planet by the ancient immortal Bandersnatchi because they just like it that way.
    • In the short story "The Soft Weapon", one of the planets in the Beta Lyrae star system is a "icy little blob of a world", AKA an Ice Planet.
  • In C.S. Friedman's Madness Season, the protagonist at one point looks up archive footage of the Tyr's home planet. He's somewhat unnerved to find endless unbroken kilometers of lush blue plant growth from pole to pole, broken only by oceans teeming with life. It turns out he's only viewing it during a very narrow portion of its solar orbit; nine years out of ten, the planet is either a frozen wasteland as its orbit carries it out to the far reaches of the solar system, or a boiling hellhole as it comes too near the sun. It looks as nice as it does during spring because all the planet's life has to put out as much growth as it can during the brief live periods.
  • In The Magician King Josh describes the worlds he visited in this way. When questioned about it he concedes that he never traveled more than a few miles from his starting location, and has no idea what the rest of the world was like.
  • Parodied in Ray Bradbury's short story "The Earth Men" (incorporated into The Martian Chronicles). Some Earth-astronauts go to Mars, and the local Martians think they're nutters just claiming to be aliens, so the astronauts find themselves locked up in the loony bin. While there, several other loonies claim to be from Earth, and each say that Earth is a "massive jungle planet", a world covered with just oceans, or just desert, etc.
  • Andre Norton:
    • The Forest Planet Janus in Judgment on Janus and Victory on Janus.
    • The Ice Planet in Secret of the Lost Race.
    • Uncharted Stars includes an Ice Planet and a City Planet.
    • Night of Masks takes place mostly on a world whose star radiates only in the infra-red.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Fishermarch is an ocean planet where the only land is man-made floating islands. Caldswell takes his crew there for vacation. Heaven's Queen also has Atlas 35, a planet which Devi states has been "terraformed to within an inch of its life" in order to be a farm planet where every inch of land is suitable for crop cultivation.
  • Several Territories in The Pendragon Adventure qualify. Cloral is an Ocean Planet, Zadaa is a Desert Planet, and Eelong is a Jungle Planet.
    • Cloral currently has one piece of dry land. Eelong is never stated to be completely jungle, the whole book just happens to have taken place in a jungle region. In the expanded works, Denduron is shown to be almost completely covered in ice with only some temperate zones near the equator.
    • Zadaa isn't entirely desert, either. The Rokador Elders blame the drought, which they are actually deliberately causing at Saint Dane's suggestion, in The Rivers of Zadaa on low precipitation levels in a mountainous region to the north of the desert Xhaxhu is located in. Then there's the fact that nobody questions Bobby's Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story of coming from a vast forest region.
  • Lampshaded in the Planescape novel Fire and Dust, where the protagonist points out that most people who claim to come from, say, an 'ice planet' just came from a polar region of a totally normal world, and never realized it because travel between planes is generally easier than travel between continents in D&D.
  • C.S. Lewis' "Perelandra" in The Space Trilogy. The titular planet (which is Venus) is (mostly) covered by ocean. And floating islands, inhabited by enchantingly cute and invariably friendly wildlife (even the dragons). It's a lovely place for a holiday (in other words, the exact opposite of its real-life equivalent), and thoroughly worth risking your life beating up Satan with your bare hands in order to protect it. In fairness, Ransom does reflect, on leaving both Malacandra and Perelandra, that he had visited only a tiny area of each planet, so his account isn't meant to imply that either has a uniform terrain. (And even in Out Of The Silent Planet, Malacandra is show to have forests, rivers, lakes (or even an ocean), tall mountains....)
  • Lusitania in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead series is a Forest Planet with a bare handful of species to its name. This is totally justified, though — Precursors terraformed it using a virus to suit their needs.
  • The trope is justified with planet Droplet in Star Trek: Titan. It's an ocean world based upon genuine (and cutting-edge) scientific theories. While most such worlds wouldn't have higher order life, due to a lack of landmass to provide mineral runoff, the novel provides a reasonable explanation for the existence of a complex ecosystem on Droplet. Essentially, the life-cycle of a native plankton aids in bringing heavier elements from the hypersaline depths to the surface.
  • In Strata, Marco's species (kung) come from a Flood Planet: between light gravity, a massive moon, and a cool sun it orbits closely, Kung has tides that'd make an Earth tsunami look like a ripple, and a sky so saturated by ocean spray that there's barely one hour in twenty when it's not raining.
  • Justified in the To the Stars trilogy by Harry Harrison. An imperialistic Earth has terraformed a number of planets (with a custom-made culture as well), each one dedicated to farming, production or mining of one particular resource. The idea being that none of them have the diverse resources needed to launch a revolt.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Referenced in A Civil Campaign:
      "It's not at all what I was expecting, from Barrayar."
      "What were you expecting?"
      "Kilometers of flat gray concrete, I suppose. Military barracks and people in uniform marching around in lockstep."
      "Economically unlikely for an entire planetary surface. Though uniforms, we do have."
    • Beta Colony fits this, being a desert world where the base temperature is "screaming hot", although sports like desert trekking are mentioned, and everyone lives in protective habitats.
    • Komarr fits this description to a degree, as it is a cold world undergoing terraforming, and like Beta, everyone is forced to live within domes.
  • Warhammer 4000: Deeply averted in Dan Abnett's Ravenor novels, where the villains speak with Ravenor after he comes through a gate. He has to go back the same way, but he can identify the location: not just the planet, but the actual location, down to a small sector, by the plants he sees.
  • Generally averted in We Are Legion (We Are Bob) and the sequels. All habitable planets have a wide variety of climates, just like Earth. The exception is Poseidon, which is entirely covered in water. However, the ocean surface is pockmarked with organic "mats" - clumps of plant life. The "mats" serve as platforms for the initial colony, although Marcus eventually builds much more comfortable aerial cities. Oh, and the oceans are home to some nasty (and hungry) lifeforms, such as krakens.
  • The first Xandri Corelel novel is set on Psittaca, which appears to be covered entirely in jungle.
  • Despite the title of The Word for World Is Forest the planet of Athshe is mostly covered in water, though all the land masses are covered in forest.

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