Saula (fictional planet)
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Saula is a fictional planet described in "An Attempt to Escape" ("Попытка к бегству") by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. This planet is a part of the so-called Noon Universe and presents a world in an early feudalistic stage (opposite to e.g. late feudalism of Arkanar). The planet was named after Saul (Savel) Repnin, one of the space explorers who discovered it in 2141 AD.
Saula is the second planet (out of four) of EN-7031 solar system, about one and a half times further from its sun than Earth is from ours. The day and night cycle on Saula lasts 28 hours, its mass is about 1.1 of Earth, which means that acceleration of gravity is roughly equal to 10.8 m/s². It has three (!) moons (natural satellites). There are only two continents on Saula: the bigger one on equator and the smaller one close to a pole (it's not specified which one in the book).
The native intelligent species of Saula are humans which are genetically identical to those of Earth. The society of these people is mostly feudal and ritual-based, although some elements still resemble the ancient slave-owning regime. The only country described in "An Attempt to Escape" doesn't have a name or, at least, it was never mentioned. Apparently it's a monarchy with "Great and mighty Cliff, glaring battle, with a foot in Heaven, living until the end of machines" (an approximate translation by Vadim, the interpreter of the expedition that discovered Saula) in chief. The last part has to do with the so-called "everlasting machines" (see below) and symbolizes eternity. It is also mentioned that "Great and mighty Cliff" (the minimum shortening of the king's title) is eager to star a conquest on other lands which suggests that there are other countries on the equatorial continent.
As already stated, the inhabitants of Saula are physically identical to homo sapiens but some aspects of their psychology is different, for example, the tone of voice appropriate for giving orders is the same with which Earthlings plead and complain (citing Anton, the third member of the expedition, "as if someone stepped on a kitten"). Another strange fact is that they are shocked by any drawn picture (probably that's cultural). The language people in the land of Great and mighty Cliff use is similar to Japanese.
Technologically Saula is generally somewhere in the Earth's early Middle Ages. The people of Saula can forge weapons like swords and spears, can build houses and palaces and ride on some specimen of local fauna, for example, large birds of prey called samsons that are visually similar to ostriches. Politically they have already invented a sort of government, which consists of Great and mighty Cliff's advisors, and a royal court. Some by-the-way remarks indicate that there is also some kind of philosophical topics usually discussed by aristocratic part of the population.
Apart from the native middle-ages technology stand the so-called "everlasting machines". This phenomenon looks like an approximately 80-kilometre-long (50 mi) highway between two huge, 500-metre-diameter (1,600 ft) craters filled with ultra-heavy and dense smoke. The car- or tank-like machines (the explorers later recalled four or five types of them) appear from the northern crater in a random order, travel along the highway to the southern one and, finally, disappear in the latter. This movement is a kind of perpetuum mobile - any obstacle put on the highway is sooner or later destroyed by the ongoing waves of the machinery. The machines themselves are primitive (from the 22nd century Earth's point of view) not reprogrammable quasi-living mechanisms.
The word "machines" doesn't exist in the Saulian language, they use some other word to describe this occurrence, for example, in the full title of their king. It is logical to suggest that "everlasting machines" are a legacy left by a much more advanced civilization (Wanderers - see below, "Earth and Saula"). The people of Saula have a legend about how machines came to be in the beginning of the universe and for them they became a symbol of eternity. However, Great and mighty Cliff apparently understands the importance of controlling these mechanisms for his future wars and uses cheap prisoner manpower (since the craters are located in a rather unfriendly climatic zone) to try to learn how to move and otherwise control the "everlasting machines".
The methods that are used to achieve this are barbaric although quite understandable considering the low technology development of Great and mighty Cliff's country. The prisoners are forced to stop a machine on the highway with their own bodies, often dying in the attempt, and then to press all possible buttons, levers and keys or try to start the motors manually. Very often nothing happens, in rare occasions the machines explode, but if someone manages to make a machine move he (women are not assigned to this task) is immediately granted amnesty no matter what he's done before. Apparently that's the only reason that keeps the prisoners from revolting.
Earth and Saula
Saula was discovered by a freelance explorer expedition consisting of Saul Repnin, Vadim and Anton (the surnames of the second two are not stated anywhere) in 2141. A flight to EN-7031 was planned by professional explorers because it belongs to the so-called "Wanderers' Road", a list of planets where the Wanderers theoretically could leave their traces. It was compiled by August-Iogann-Maria Bader and Leonid Gorbovsky and made public, so, despite little attention paid to the list and a postponement of official expedition, the discovery of fellow humans and traces left by Wanderers on Saula apparently wasn't unexpected.
No information on subsequent progressor work on Saula is available.