You never would have known about the poet inside of me! I can assure you that he was delicious.
Hello everyone! Did you have a good weekend? I know I did! Picked up Far Cry 3 on Friday and I have to say, I am totally hooked. I don’t think I’m more than halfway through the story line yet, and I’m having a total blast. I ended up dropping a great many things, in fact, to play FC3, such as: eating regular meals, encouraging my social life, writing blog posts, etc. Thus, my readers, you have my apologizes for my deplorable, irresponsible behavior, and I shall make it up to you with a bonus post this upcoming weekend, and a brand new topic to discuss.
Most of my posts to date have been reviews, small critiques of games or movies I enjoy and wanted to share. Now, I shall branch off of that topic and bring up one close and dear to me. I consider myself an amateur author, a clumsy wielder of pen and paper (although usually these days instead of pen and paper it’s caffeine and keyboard), a proper artisan with a thesaurus. I had planned on eventually bringing some of my writing into the blog, but I feel like introducing it sooner rather than later. Today, I discuss my pet project, Skybound.
Traditionally, I write mostly fantasy and fiction. My short stories are often from the point of view of a wizard dabbling in occult matters that he does not understand or from ordinary people dealing with the trials of every day living. This novel, however, stands out from either category in that it is a) completely unique, and b) belonging to neither category. Skybound is an alternate history of the 1900-1920 era, and thus exists as a form of historical fiction. Most of the characters and settings are based on real life people, settings, and events, and as such, I am taking a great care to do proper research to try to really flush out a world in which these characters feel like they exist in the 1910s. Now, let’s see if we can guess at what the alternate history is about: What famous events happened over this time period? I’ll give you a hint, of sorts. What do Celine Dion, James Cameron, and Leonardo Di Caprio have in common? Film fanatics will have already jumped straight to the answer, the Titanic. Just over 100 years ago, an Olympic-size cruise ship sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, due to a combination of carelessness, overconfidence, and incompetence. It was a tragedy that resonated throughout time, an event that still invokes emotion almost 100 years after its occurrence. I wonder if the same shall be said about the modern day tragedy of 9/11.
There are also a number of other events in the same time period that lend themselves into creating the environment of Skybound. To name a few, I rely upon the modification of a few key events, namely Karl Benz’s invention of the first (successful) internal combustion engine in 1878, the first motor-less carriage built in 1885, the introduction of the assembly line (and the Ford Model-T), and the introduction of commercial automobiles in 1908. The automobile, a staple of modern civilization. I would call it the most important invention since sliced bread, but Wikipedia has led me to believe that sliced bread wasn’t invented until 1928, and as such I would label sliced bread the most invention since the creation of the automobile. These are a remarkable set of achievements, but what do they have to do with the Titanic? Well, it happens when we add a swap with another early American invention that debuted in 1903, the first flight of Orville Wright. What if, instead of inventing the automobile, Karl Benz had invented a personalized flying device? What if Henry Ford had seen the ability to mass produce these vehicles, and provide short-range personal flight devices en mass to the general populace? What if White Star Line, a shipping company entering the line of commercialized overseas travel, thought to use the idea of flight as a selling point and developed a cruise line of transcontinental cruise blimps? What if one of the first of these ships ever made was destroyed in a horrific accident? Thus is the general idea behind Skybound, the creation and destruction of one of the world’s first aeronautic mass transit vehicles.
I have been playing around with a few ideas on how the story surrounding these events will take place, and I think I’ve settled on one that I like. This is the story of Jack Thatcher, a novice mechanic of the Guild of Aeronautics (official name pending the idea of a less stupid guild name) under the employ of Harland and Wolff Heavy Industry. His job is to work on one of the engines responsible for keeping the Skybound (which I considered a better name than, say, the Skytanic!) aloft, and as a result of his excellence in aeronautic design, he is given the privilege to develop a crucial portion of one of these engines. While his work is fine, sabotage causes the part to fail, leading to the immolation of the Skybound, the deaths of everyone aboard it and also of many of those below. Jack is found responsible for the destruction, and while there is no criminal offense associated with the situation (as the blame is shared throughout many individuals within the company, such as the foreman who let a novice work on critical parts of the engine, the supervisor responsible for testing the parts, etc.), Jack still finds himself expelled from the Guild, fired from his job, ostracized by his former coworkers and the townsfolk, and on the verge of homelessness, starvation, and being murdered by vengeful townsfolk. Eventually, he ends up joining up with a rouge group of aeronautic engineers, not controlled by the Guild, who are trying to build a black-market company for creating flying vehicles. This group is headed by Thomas Andrews and Alexander Carlisle, brother-in-laws who were fired by Harland and Wolff when they kept raising safety concerns that White Star Line had deemed too costly. Movie viewers and history fanatics may remember Thomas Andrews, as he was labeled a hero as he helped to save the lives of many aboard the Titantic, as he started and organized the process of filing people into lifeboats and personally ran around the ship, spreading the word of evacuation and assisting those whom he could. He went down on the ship and his body never recovered. The book follows Jack as he works for Andrews, involves himself in the underground, and ultimately solves the mystery of who actually sabotaged the Skybound.
The idea is fairly sound, overall. I like the setting, and the characters literally pulled from history. The only thing missing is the research- while I have a fairly comprehensive understanding of the events that occurred surrounding the Titantic, I still need to understand more about the world and what it was like in the 1900’s, in order to build a better world, one that is historically accurate(ish) while at the same time being immersive and intriguing. I haven’t settled on a particular starting point, but I know I plan on a prolog involving Karl Benz and the invention of the aircraft, a few short stories involving people such as Henry Ford and the Wright brothers, and I know who the “bad guy” is (I’ll keep that a secret, for myself, for now), but the story needs a little more direction and a fair bit of development before it’s ready for production.
What I plan to do for now is to post summaries of the research I do into this project, but for now, I’ve already talked your ear off, so for now, this will be enough.
This is Zip!, signing off.