The War of the Seasons

The space habitat of New Ragusa had an ancient tradition where every hundred days the citizens would hold an election as to what the season should be.

The effect was easily accomplished by modifying the internal temperature and operating hours of the central sun-line, and by altering the humidity. In this way, almost any climate, from frigid polar winter to sweltering tropical summer could be rapidly achieved. Many types of vegetation, carefully stored in suspended animation in different stages of their annual cycle, could be planted overnight by drones to complete the seemingly magical change.

A problem arose one year, after several successive cycles of spring and autumn.

When the vote was totalled, precisely 5,341 citizens had voted for each of summer and winter. A much smaller (but vocal) contingent voted for fall again, but this was clearly far from current political fashion.

“Think of the ice-cream,” cried the summer-folk. “Think of the swimming pools, of the long lazy afternoons basking in the sun.”

“Think of the skiing,” retorted the winter-folk. “Consider the warm mugs of hot chocolate, the nights curled up with books near the cozy fire.”

“Last time we did that I got frostbite on my toes,” somebody grumbled from the edge of the crowd.

“Yeah, well every time we do summer here you make it too hot,” said another. “I just about melted last time.” There were actually several additional words involved, but they are not pertinent to the story at hand.

“Why don’t we just do fall again,” said a member of that tiny contingent. They proudly wore an old-fashioned lumber jacket.

“No,” said everyone else. Loudly.

It was apparent that the good citizens of New Ragusa were at an impasse. Dark mutterings were heard from extremists on both sides, declaring their intent to storm the control-room and take matters into their own hands.

“Stop it! Just cut it out!” The crowd turned. One of the elders of the habitat had taken the podium.

“There’s another way,” the elder said. “Our ancestors left us a different option, carefully worded in our constitution.”

“Do tell,” somebody said, sarcastically.

“We can split the climate,” said the elder. “It isn’t even technically difficult, we just never did it that way for some reason.”

And so they did.

The mountainous ends of the cylinder were set to winter, capped with powdery snow. The surrounding villages were quickly redecorated in the usual touristy alpine style. Portions of the sun-line were illuminated, to form gemstone stars in a twilit sky.

A chair-lift system was pulled from somewhere in deep storage, to carry passengers up and down from the central plains of the habitat, where warm, Mediterranean summer ruled. People could lounge in the sun, consuming ice-cold gellato, and then with a quick ride up the lifts could hit the slopes for a ski run, or warm themselves in the lodges with a hot mug by the fire.

This compromise proved so popular with both citizens and tourists that it was kept in place for many voting cycles.