The Most Brutal and Most Beautiful Snow Planets from Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Back in 2011, when our little corner of the universe was covered in snow, we asked our Twitter followers to name as many snow planets as they could. Four years later, with another Snowpocalypse upon us, we’ve had time to think up even more icy worlds (including our own, depending on who you ask).

Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back is an easy one, but what else is out there?

Winter The Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. Le Guin

Art from the cover of The Left Hand of Darkness by Alex Eben

Twitter user @NAS482 asked, “Does Winter count?” The name alone should be an indicator that The Left Hand of Darkness’ world fits on this list; and Ursula K. Le Guin is tops. You bet.

Star Trek Delta Vega

Delta Vega from the rebooted Star Trek. Never mind how close it orbits to Vulcan, or the whole thing about Vulcan supposedly having no moons, or the fact that it was actually a totally different planet in the original series. Look! Snow!! (Thanks @csilibrarian and @abaddondave.)

Stargate Hoth ice planet

In the Stargate Universe episode “Water,” the crew comes upon an ice planet they name Hoth, but instead of tauntauns, this one has poison frozen into the ice!

Narnia White Witch palace snow planet

Narnia is a world, and the White Witch does cover it in Eternal Winter, so commenter Evan H. would be correct in classifying it as a snow planet.

Darkover map Marion Zimmer Bradley snow planet

Map by David Speakman for Wikipedia

Ditto for Darkover, from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series! Thanks to Elizabeth Bear for reminding us of this one.

Star Trek Rura Penthe ice planet

Rura Penthe from Star Trek VI and Enterprise: Speaking of cold Star Trek planets visited by Kirk (and Archer, too!), we can’t forget this Klingon penal asteroid. Even though it’s not technically a planet, it’s just as forbidding as other frozen worlds.

Omtose Phellack Malazan

Art by Shadaan on deviantART

In Steven Erickson’s Malazan series, Omtose Phellack was the Elder Hold of the Jaghut, also known as the Hold of Ice. This magical, snowy realm was said to provide the cold necessary to temper the heat of life. (Thanks to commenter stevenhalter for the suggestion!)

ice tunnels

Commenter RobMRobM suggested Sol Draconi Septem, the partially terraformed ice planet from Dan Simmons’ Endymion. There, the primitive Chitchatuk have learned to adapt to their awful weather conditions and live in ice tunnels.

Planet of Ood Doctor Who snow planets

It may be cold on the Planet of the Ood (from Doctor Who), but those folks sure can carry a tune! And they have a giant brain there, too.

Commenter Fenric25 came up with several more icy Whovian planets:

  • Ribos, an icy planet whose society was patterned after medieval Russia (“The Ribos Operation”)
  • Nekros, planet of mourning and secret refuge of Davros (“Revelation of the Daleks”)
  • Svartos—or rather, the spaceship Iceworld, located on Svartos’ dark side (“Dragonfire”)
  • Earth itself, stuck in the middle of a new Ice Age (“The Ice Warriors”)
Silfen ice whales Pandora's Star

Art from the cover of Pandora’s Star

On one of the Silfen Paths from Peter F. Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star (suggested by commenter Gerry__Quinn), the Silfen hunt ice whales!

Firefly ice planet problematic GIF

Commenter Razorgirl pointed out that, while it doesn’t contain life, River’s Ice Planet dessert in Firefly is just as problematic as any of the other celestial bodies on this list.

Interstellar ice planet Mann

You know you’re in trouble on Mann when you fly through what you think are clouds and they break off. That’s right—Mann’s planet from Interstellar is so uninhabitable that the clouds freeze, and there’s no surface, just endless honeycombs of ice. Bummer.

Snowpiercer Earth ice age

Concept art by Park Jae-Cheol

Sometimes Earth is the ice world—like in Snowpiercer, when humanity’s attempts to engineer the climate backfire and set off a planet-wide ice age. The survivors are then packed into a train (complete with a class system of haves and have-nots) that circumnavigates the globe over the course of a year.

By that same token, the Earth in Sunshine would also fit. And the Earth in Fritz Leiber’s short story “A Pail of Air.” And the Earth in Hal Clement’s novel Iceworld. The 2015 Snowpocalypse might have spared the East Coast NYC this time, but clearly sci-fi is trying to warn us about our future.

What other ice or snow planets have we missed?


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