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Cold Snap

This week in Waterloo, Ontario, we’re in the midst of a cold snap, with wind chills dropping to –26 degrees Celsius (that’s around –8 Fahrenheit to our non-metric friends). It’s pretty brisk, reminding me of the weather from my years in Lethbridge, Alberta… a very dry and sharp cold can cut through to your bones, no matter how many layers you wear. It’s proving quite an adjustment, because until now this winter has been rather tame.

This is not, however, a complaint –– there are clearly places that are colder, for longer. But as I was out shoveling this afternoon, trying to remember when last I’d been quite so numb, I realized that most of my ‘memories’ about being cold had been usurped by memories of writing about being cold. Because apparently, I do that a lot.

It will surprise no one if I confess that, given the choice between too hot and too cold, I’ll take the latter. Some warmth is fine, but too much disagrees with me… so I err on the side of being chilly. It’s like how I prefer standing to sitting –– one of the things that proves I’m more than a little cracked in the head. And like most of my eccentricities, it has infected my writing.

All the way back in the beginning –– The Human Equation –– the Earthers and Crusaders meet for battle in Antarctica. I’m told that place is cold. And then the Equations series ends with a lot more action in Antarctica, and a fight in snow-covered Newfoundland. Lots of cold.

Though much of Defense Command was climate-controlled in ships and domes, we did enjoy a wonderful moment in The Mars Convention when Bort McWebsbert had to endure a blizzard, thus learning that winter in Newfoundland Capital Island is, in fact, colder than absolute zero in the void of space. Shut up, that’s a scientifically proven fact. By scientists. Honest.

In His Majesty’s New World, though Pacifica and Selkirk have mild and rainy winters, the air is always at least cool –– never hot. Fresh, chilly mountain air is always there to help Waller, Smith and the b’ys clear their heads… because warm air doesn’t do that. Another fact proven by scientists. Totally.

Finally, of course, Alex loves swimming in her icy North Atlantic waters, and as we’ll see next week in Firebox, she has other unusual cold-related habits. Actually, there’ll be even more chills in Grand Banks and Elspeth… before everyone warms up in Mandarins. This may be a bit of a theme, at least for 1941.

That’s a whole lot of cold. But as I think back, I can’t recall writing any substantive scene in which people found the weather too hot. Maybe Darymanis City in The Genesis Equation? I guess Freetown was a tropical paradise… but look how that turned out for them.

Seems that, when it comes to plots I’m working on, little good can come of warm weather. Consider yourself warned.