I have a guest post from author Kenneth M. Schuett about airships. He’s just published a steampunk fantasy called Dustball Air. I have a few stories with airships sitting in my own fiction writing back burner, and I recall how inspired I was by the airships in the Final Fantasy video games. I got to thinking about why airships are just so fascinating, and Kenneth indulged me with this post.
Shauna was interested in a post about why airships are majestic, and also why they are so prevalent in works of fiction. So therefore, I will try to answer that question via my own book, Dustball Air, and the pirate ship known as the Red Wrath within it.
There are several reasons why airships grab a reader’s imagination, but the most important one is their size. Whatever denial people like to spew about size, it does matter, especially for visually compelling scenes. Take for example the Albatross, the famous airship in Joules Verne’s classic Robur the Conqueror(Disney made the book into a classic movie called The Master of the World). The airship was the size of a typical battleship at the time that the book came out in 1886. In other words, the Albatross was the size of a tall building or skyscraper. Verne did this for dramatic effect since actually creating a flying machine filled with gas that size is impractical at best or outright dangerous at worst. (Look at Dustball’s Facebook page for details of why zeppelins and airships don’t work in the real world.)
Following Verne’s method of using a massive ship for visual effect, I ended up creating a pirate battleship known as the Red Wrath. The Wrath would be the equivalent of using something the size of the Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, as a ship. In all practicality, I basically used something twice the size of a modern day aircraft carrier. Again, the purpose was for visual effect in a scene since something so massive is both majestic and dwarfs anything nearby it.
Of course, the second detail that is truly compelling about airships is that they fly. Humans have always been fascinated by flight because of the freedom that it represents. Just think about how many political powers, pieces of art, musical lyrics, and whatever else employs the use of birds for imagery. Flight can take you places where mere water-bound ships cannot, an escape from the mundane via the air. And airships fulfill this image of freedom perfectly for a reader due to them not having set courses, not having to stop once they fly over land, and basically not having boundaries except for the limits of one’s own imagination.
Verne’s Albatross flew over all the capitals of the world, had adventures over the wide, open seas, and symbolized the freedom we all wish to grasp. In the same way, I modeled the Wrath so that it could take pirates wherever they wanted, damned be the consequences. In conjunction with this freedom, I used the ship as a means for the main character of Dustball Air, Dizzy, to truly find himself and distance himself from the world he once knew.
You can find Dustball Air on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dustball-Air-Kenneth-M-Schuett-ebook/dp/B00GL6217C and you can read a free excerpt at https://www.facebook.com/DustballAir