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Adventures in a Dirigible

By Linda Schoales, editor

Oct 8, 2009: “The Flying Cloud, R-505” is the story of the surviving members of the crew of His Majesty’s Airship “Flying Lady”. It’s 1926, but in this alternate reality dirigibles were developed instead of airplanes. After the “Flying Lady” is attacked over the Pacific by an airship flying false colours, the gallant crew work together to keep the remains of their airship aloft long enough to reach land.

The story jumps right in with the crew clinging to the wreckage as it falls towards the ocean surface. Captain Everett, the consummate English officer, calmly issues orders to his men. By dropping ballast and non-essentials they manage to keep the hull of their airship floating as they look for an island to land on. Once there, they’ll worry about the next step. In the meantime, best to keep busy.

The narrative moves quickly, with lots of nautical/airship terms thrown around. The overall tone is light with little tension or real sense of danger. Everything works out quickly and no one seems really worried for very long. There’s a definite feeling of being in an earlier, more formal, and more sporting time. This could be at least partially due to the lack of swearing and the use of complete sentences by most of the characters.

The dialogue varies between the “stiff upper lip” tone of the officers and the various regional accents of the enlisted men. There’s even an Australian who says “fair dinkum”. Much of the humour comes from the captain’s very serious pronouncements and the constant bickering between an Irishman and a Scotsman. As new characters were introduced I got the impression of an anime series with a colourful cast, short action sequences, and lots of pictures of airships. Each episode includes a brief recap of the story so far.

“Flying Cloud” is a light, fun story about the gallant young Brits who fly airships in an alternate version of 1926 Earth. The story moves quickly but it’s well-written, with a touch of humour and action. If you like adventure stories, stories about alternate histories, or stories about airships, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

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