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by Pete Grey

Kulse is a very geologically active world within the Kamrati cluster of worlds in the Avalar Consulate. Kulse orbits its primary very closely, and the gravitational interactions between it and the binary star system creates massive heating within its mantle and core. When approached from space, the glow from massive volcanic activity is palpable even on the dayside.

The constant heat from within destroyed the planets original crust billions of years ago, and only a thin crust has evolved since then. This crust is riddled with huge fissures, through which huge rivers of basaltic lava four to resurface the planet in hot puddles of porous rock through which superheated gas and steam is vented. The planet's insidious rating comes from its extremely high surface temperature, which ranges from 700 to 1600 degrees centrigrade. What surface water the planet has is locked at the poles in superhot oceans and lakes that collect and condense all of the moisture in the atmosphere.

Most of the population lives either in specially shielded colonies built on pylons or rock platforms built in these seas, or in large orbital habitats in geostationary orbit. That people settled such a hellish world isn't really that mysterious or astonishing. The high surface temperatures made certain industrial processes very cost efficient. Most industry revolves around metal refinement, ceramic fabrication, chemical processing, and some mining. Refrigerated industries thrive here too, the result of careful manipulation of coolant pumped between the different temperature zones. A set of secondary industries have evolved in orbit to support these activities and passing space traffic, giving the world a diverse enough economic base to survive. Agriculture is accomplished through hothouse greenhouses, into which locally obtained CO2 gas and some steam for humidity is piped in to enhance crop yields. The planet's ruling authority was a governor appointed by the old Kamrati League, from a pool of local candidates based upon their professional acumen and prestige. This system has worked so well that the succeeding Consulate has left it in place without any modifications.

Kulse's population is a dour and taciturn group, eschewing most entertainment and fads or fashions. They are a rather inventive group, as they prefer lofty amateur academic and scientific pursuits during their free time. This has led to the creation of a vital third industry for the world, a large array of polytechnical colleges and their associated laboratories. The people are intensely intellectual, an unusual departure from the norm among the Consulate's lower social classes. Even the lowliest of the world's workers will assemble in cafes or park centers within their communities, to hold forth in debates flowing with well chosen and reasoned arguments and rebuttals. Some sociologists believe that these discourses have two vital purposes: in creating a belief system within a society reknowned for its agnosticism towards all belief structures, including scientific inquiry; and in creating a social order and reinforcing the camaraderie of the community.

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