Saturday, March 31, 2012

A if for AIRSHIP

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.
If there's anything any steampunk story should have, it's the airship. Some call it a dirigible, balloon, aerostat, blimp. Airships are cool. Why? Because they're graceful and can be lethal at the same time.

As opposed to airplanes which used fixed wings and pure propulsion to fly, airships use some type of air bag (a ballonet) that holds a gas that is less dense than air. When the ballonets are inflated with helium or hydrogen, it provides the lift for the craft to take flight. And when the airship takes to the air, you can use a series of propellers and rudders to steer the behemoth.

Now what makes a steampunk airship a steampunk airship? Duh. It's STEAM. You'll find steampunk airships powered by some sort of combustion: coal, aether (a classical element common in steampunk), or something else entirely. It's not uncommon to see steampunk airships with massive chimney's blowing out smoke, chugging along the horizon.

And steampunk dirigibles might even look very similar to 18th century seafaring ships, but with propellers, wings, and ballonets. These crafts have given rise to another popular steampunk set of characters, airship pirates. Airship pirates terrorize the skies, much like their ocean-going contemporaries. Isn't that just awesome?

Airshps can be used for reconnasance, transport of supplies, or as weapons of kick-ass destruction. And you can bet that these airships are piloted by cocky, arrogant captains...willing to take you to your destination, but only for the right price.


40 comments:

Tiyana, aka 'Yoyo' said...

Woo! Way to start off the challenge. :D One of my favorite aspects about steampunk (and its diesel cousin ;)).

These may not be steam-powered...but I thought I'd share the coolest site about airships I've come across yet: airships.net. So many great pictures and info!

farawayeyes said...

'Steampunk' - I love it. An excellent and most interesting theme. I'll be back.

Oh and that cocky, arrogant captain thing, would be correct unless of course they are a 'whoopsie'. (My favorite steampunk captain, Captain Shakespeare)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Airships - great way to start, Jay. Definitely a key component of steampunk.

Kelley said...

So cool! I can tell I'm really going to love your A to Z posts :)

Rusty Webb said...

And we're off!

Good stuff, and I've often heard author's joke that they had to go back and add dirigibles to their story because some readers will get upset, or feel let down, if they didn't include them in their tale. So they're just about a must.

Christine Rains said...

Great start! Those are very cool pictures of airships. I love the idea of airships and the cocky pilots, of course!

Jay Noel said...

Tiyana: Wow, cool! Thanks for the link.

faraway: I had to get it out a day early. Couldn't help it!

Alex: Thanks man!

Kelley: It's going to be very pic heavy, since steampunk is so visual.

Rusty: I can see that. You have to have them somewhere in an steampunk story. And many readers still feel cheated if they're only in the background.

Christine: Thanks. I think it brings a neat little spin to that trope.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Gee, I scheduled my A post to publish at 12:34 AM, and foolishly thought it'd be one of the earlier ones hitting the ether. Shoulda known better. Steampunk is an interesting theme, and I must admit, I didn't know what the term meant. Makes sense, though. Good luck with the challenge.

Laura Barnes said...

I really need to learn more about steampunk. I enjoy the few steampunk novels I've read. I think I'm going to enjoy your posts as well. :)

Kelly Barnes said...

I've always liked steam punk art and costumes. I went to a fan con last month, and I was blown away by the culture itself.

While I was there, a character started taking shape. Now I have a year to assemble his costume.

I'll definitely be back!

Juliana L. Brandt said...

This post alone makes me want to go read some steampunk. I love airships! Great post =D

Jay Noel said...

Susan: I couldn't wait!!!

Laura: Stick around. Tomorrow, I give you a HUGE list of steampunk works.

Kelly: Thanks for visiting. It's an amazing culture, isn't it?

Juliana: Love airships, but I'm afraid of heights!

ilima said...

LOVE these pics. And you're almost at 100 followers. Good luck on the A to Z!

Melissa Bradley said...

I lOVE steampunk and have always wanted to travel the skies in an airship. We have a hotel in Chicago, the Intercontinental, which has a gold ball on top that was intended for airship dockings.

nutschell said...

oh my gosh are you doing steampunk for the challenge. What a super idea. I looove steampunk! hope to write a steampunk novel one day. great start to the A-Z!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Vero said...

Great post and very nice blog! I love steampunk (especially cartoons), it's a very fascinating alternative to computerized, highly technological sci-fi, and a mesmerizing blend of history and future. Thanks for tackling it for the A to Z challenge!

Linda Adams said...

Great post! I enjoyed the descriptions and pictures.

Linda Adams
http://garridon.wordpress.com/

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Yay! Steampunk theme challenge! I'll keep coming back for more!

R.A.Desilets said...

My favorite part of all the Final Fantasy games was when I finally got my hands on the airship ;)

Great first post!

Ciara said...

I did a lot a research about fuel and different resources that could propel an airship. I even had a chat with a friend form NASA. In the end, my ships are not true Steampunk since the world is post war and things are made based on available resources. I love the true Steampunk airships though. They do have a classic style. :) Absolutely LOVE your theme!!!

M Pax said...

The dirigible is a fantastic form of transportation.

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