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Darkover is the focus of the Darkover series of science fiction novels and short stories by Marion Zimmer Bradley[1] and others published since 1958. According to the novels, Darkover is the only human-habitable of seven planets orbiting a fictional red giant star called Cottman.[2]


The Cottman stellar system

Of the seven Cottman planets, Darkover is the fourth-farthest in orbit, which gives the planet its other name, Cottman IV. Two of the three planets (Cottman II and Cottman III) which are closer to the system's star are gas giants, the third (Cottman I) is a barren, scorched rock too close to its star to sustain life. Of the three outer planets, the two farthest from Cottman (Cottman VI and Cottman VII) are gas giants akin to Earth's Jupiter and Saturn. Cottman V is an ice planet that while not toxic to humans, cannot naturally support a self-sustaining human population.

Like its neighbor, Darkover is a planet stuck in a permanent ice age. Only one small equatorial strip of its single smallish continent is warm enough to support limited agriculture, fishing, and livestock. But the planet's climate is harsh by any standard, with the warmest parts of the world snow-free for only a few weeks out of the year.

Similar in size to Earth, Darkover has a lower gravity due to its relative lack of metals; it also has a higher percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere. One Darkover year is roughly equal to 15 Earth months.

Darkover weather, geography, and flora/fauna

Darkover's weather is affected by two major forces:

  • A huge mountain range called "The Wall Around the World" which reaches a height of 9,000 meters above sea level. This mountain range has the cooling effect of a third pole and has set the angle of Darkover's axis of rotation to be more extreme than that of Earth's which causes an extreme fluctuation between summer and winter temperatures in its equatorial region.
  • Unlike the Earth, which has only one natural satellite, Darkover has four moons which affect tidal forces and weather patterns.

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