On Writing About Airships

I love airships. I'm not sure why, but they've always captured my imagination. From the first one I can remember in Final Fantasy to my koala pilot in Mutants Down Under. Those were the hooks, but it became an obsession when I saw Laputa for the first time. I've gotten other hits since, but mainstream media seems to be lacking in strong airship-based entertainment. I've been itching to create something with airships for a long time, and it's exciting to finally be doing so.

The other day, I got to the first airship combat scene in Air Pirates. I thought writing it would be a breeze. Like chase scenes. I hardly ever have to plan a chase scene ahead of time. So long as I have a mental picture of the location, the action just happens and all I do is record it. Imagine my surprise when I realized that airships are slow, ponderous vehicles, and combat between them isn't inherently exciting at all.

It worried me at first, but I though about similar vehicles - seagoing ships and submarines, for example. Sea and undersea battles are also slow, boring affairs, but that didn't keep me from enjoying Pirates! or The Ancient Art of War at Sea. Nor did it keep Pirates of the Carribean, Master & Commander, or Hunt for Red October from their exciting action sequences. It's just a different kind of action.

One I need to learn to write.


The Wannabe Scribe said...

Ah, love Sid Meier's Pirates! The Commodore 64 version was one of my favourites and I had the more recent PC version too.

I have found Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series to be a good source of how to write excitingly slow battles (if you get what I mean).

The books are definitely worth checking out for this reason alone.

These books are on my reading agenda to build skills in those sorts of scenarios for my own writing, and not too soon either, as I am about to write large battle involving some privateers (I think - not fully decided on that yet) a medium 'carrier' and lots of little attack ships. I'm not sure how close these battles will be and whether they will be far enough to worry about relativistic effects of light though.

I can't wait to get stuck in, if my writing plan is on schedule I should be hitting this scene some time in the next couple of months.

The Wannabe Scribe said...

Oh and I mustn't forget my main character will be in among that lot too vs. the carrier and attack ships - still not sure what these privateers will be up to though, or whether they will even be privateers or some kind of faction.

Adam Heine said...

Wannabe: The fact that you're worried about the relativistic effects of light in a battle involving (possible) privateers is enough to make me want to read your story on its own.

And thanks for the tip on Campbell. I'll check it out.

The Wannabe Scribe said...

SLY MONGOOSE by Tobias Buckell

"SLY MONGOOSE is, more than anything, a fast-moving action novel with lots of battles and airships and stuff like that. On the thought-provoking side, it’s got a lot to say about politics (not much of it positive) and responsibility. Perhaps even more so, and I’m starting to see this is a theme in Toby’s works, there is a lot to be noted here about poverty in a rich world and that technology can fail, particularly for poor people."

Reviewed by Mark Terry.

This could be just what you are looking for.