I'm trying to identify a short story, which was set on a world with extreme seasons.

In the story summer was so wildly extreme that at its peak the only habitable region on the world was the pole. As midsummer approached, the world's inhabitants sailed to the pole, where they took refuge in caves until midsummer was past.

I think that the population were the last descendants of the planet's original colonists, and had either no high technology left or very little, and just legends of how their ancestors had come to the world. I also think (but I'm not sure) that the story was told from the point of view of someone from off-world secretly studying the people.

  • I can think of several stories involving extreme seasons; the one that most often comes to mind for me is not a short story, but a book The World Is Round. Hal Clement did a lot of this kind of thing, as well as many of the other classic "hard SF" authors.
    – geekosaur
    May 11 '12 at 23:01
  • 3
    This also reminds me of the Helliconia stories May 11 '12 at 23:08
  • Helliconia: extreme seasons, check. Someone off-world secretely studying the people, check. But these were only novels. Also, seasons last for a few generations.
    – user56
    May 11 '12 at 23:24
  • 6
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I found it by searching on Google Books.The story was "Summer's Lease" by Joe Haldeman, from the anthology Infinite Dreams. Turns out that the world's extreme weather was caused by its star flaring every 80 years, not by extreme seasons. There also wasn't an off-world observer.... but I can see why I remembered it as that... I'll say no more since it's a neat story with a nice twist in the tail and I don't want to ruin the ending.
    – Mike Grant
    May 12 '12 at 20:18
  • How do I do that, Michael?
    – Mike Grant
    May 15 '12 at 20:48

Per @MikeGrant's own comment (above), the story in question is "Summer's Lease" by Joe Haldeman, from the anthology Infinite Dreams.

"A man on a planet subject to devastating storms seeks to discover how his people can survive them without losing most of their possessions and many of their lives"

Infinite Dreams

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