Monday, September 17, 2012

Ad Work

I spent the morning tracking down and emailing several steampunk cons that will be taking place between September 15th-November 15th, the approximate time frame I will be running my kickstarter project, to see if they would be willing to publish this ad I had created by the good folks at Rainbow Press Printing Company.

Currently the kickstarter url is live, but my project on kickstarter is not. However, I expect it will go live by the beginning of next week as the whole project is close to completion. I also need to figure out how to make a url link of the ad and see if any steampunk blogs would be willing to run the ad in exchange, not sure. I will see if there is anything I could offer in exchange such as writing, promotion on my blog, etc.

Today's topic is airship design - I had a great conversation with some friends yesterday about the actual schematics of the Horizon, and one friend pushed for an enclosed airship as opposed to the open main deck/traditional sailing ship gondola I had envisioned hanging down from the airbag envelope. He pointed out that an open-top deck would bring a host of problems with it, such constant moisture from going through clouds, wind, and the very real danger of men falling off the ship, something I had been thinking about quite a bit. If a man falls off a water ship, as long as he can swim, he should be okay. Falling out of an airship going 5,000 miles above the ground would be much more fatal, and my friend suggested all airmen be rigged with parachutes. However, the main issue I am pondering today is the enclosed vs. open top design. The one main problem I see any airship encountering is visibility. If you stick the pilot on the main deck out in the open air, he could see around him better but you've still got a whacking big envelope blocking the view up and the gondola blocking a lot below. Put the pilot inside the airship and he's got even less to view, although he would be better protected. Also, I am wondering if the way the Horizon will be designed if the wheel and steering apparatus will need to be near the main engine/boiler room, which could affect where the pilot is situated. I like the idea of the men racing around on the main deck in the open air, wind blowing in their hair, but it probably makes a lot more sense to keep them inside the ship where they are better protected and in much less danger of falling. My brother suggested I take a lot of ideas from WWI fighter pilots when crafting airship battles since WWI marked the earliest days of aerial fights, which is also a good idea.

All in all, I am blessed to have friends that are far smarter than I am and who enthusiastically bring up a welter of ideas I had never considered before. I suspect this book will become some sort of a group effort. Oh dear, splitting royalties twenty-seven different ways may become a bit challenging!


  1. What is the pilot is on the very bottom, poking out of the main portion of the ship - in a room with windows all around? Like a blimp... Still wouldn't have any visibility up above but he would have in front & behind...

  2. I'd assumed you were going with a sailing vessel format as a sort of stylistic choice, perhaps somewhat to facilitate 'boarding-style' battles. At some point if you get too real, you may find it taking you directions you don't like. To be realistic, I don't think anyone ever made a steam powered airship, and there's probably a lot of logical reasons for that. Not sure where you want to draw the line.

    As for visibility, if you look at actual blimp designs (and I get the impression this is a 'blimp' style vessel, rather than semi-rigid or zeppelin) the larger ones mostly have the captain forward. I think they were mostly concerned with going forward and up or down. Not so much reverse. So as long as he can see forward and to the sides, and somewhat down, he's probably fine. He'd have a rear observer with a communications tube or something to tell him who might be following. Or maybe a fancy optical tunnel pointing rearward.

    If the blimp is steam powered there's no way it's going 5k miles high (atmosphere effectively ends at 19 miles; guessing you meant 5k feet?). Not sure where the practical limit is exactly, but at 10k feet you have to start using oxygen and pressurizing the cabin. The steam will lose energy faster the higher you go, so there has to be a limit at some point.

    I'd guess wearing parachutes all the time would be too encumbering for the crew. Modern parachutes are pretty small, but I think the materials available at the victorian times would have made for very heavy and awkward parachutes. Except perhaps silk ($$$$). They'd probably only put them on if doing something dangerous (like fighting).
    Another interesting factoid; in WWI the British FORBID their pilots in airplanes from getting parachutes. They were afraid they'd be too prone to abandon the plane without trying to bring it down safe. Also it was considered cowardly (I think something like the 'captain goes down with his ship' mentality).