An SF Writer’s Glossary of Alternative Aviation

I’ve signed up for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The idea is to post every day in April, excepting Sundays, with the topic of each post starting with the next letter of the alphabet.

This is a good fit for me, as I have been looking to do a  glossary of Alternative Aviation: from Autogyros to Zeppelins for some time now.

That should give you an idea of where I’m going: wacky flying machines. Now let me explain why. In fiction, it is often necessary to move your characters from one place to another in a hurry. As a pilot, I know that flying is a great way to do this. Even hobbits sometimes soar with eagles. As a writer of speculative fiction, I want to talk about how flying fits into stories and worldbuilding.

If you write Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Solarpunk or some other genre with technology limits, the kind of plane I fly isn’t an option. Maybe you’re telling a post-apocalyptic story with civilization in ruins, and you suddenly realize your character needs to get airborne to move the plot ahead, and there aren’t any good airplanes left. Perhaps your story would benefit from an unreliable means of transport that takes your hero to the wrong place, or falls short, plunging them into the heart of enemy territory. Drop in at the Glossary of Alternative Aviation for help ruining your protagonist’s life.

I’ll be taking a look at unconventional aircraft, mentioning examples of fiction that employed them, and rating them on the genre level of tech required. I’ll try to remember to discuss the strengths and weaknesses. I’ll foray into the fringes of flight, showcasing some ways to fly that never made it to the mainstream, and speculating about some that have never existed. Yet.

We’re going to take a ride on the wild side of the skies. I’m not providing a list in advance. For one thing, I’m still finding new prospects. For another, I hope to surprise you!

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