I wanted to write a novel about an alternate Earth with no oceans and all land would be floating landmasses. But I can't figure out a proper timeline of technology for the world. Since transportation in my story would be airships like the ones from the game "Guns of Icarus", and there were no water for the invention of boats, what year would the invention of airships begin in?

To add, the landmasses are all natural. They are flying islands. It's a world where all land are naturally flying islands. After a certain height below the islands, everything falls into the molten core.

Sometimes, there can be flying above or below another island. The islands orbits around a "sun", which used to be the core of the planet. The planet was fractured and separated into thousands to millions of islands floating in mid air.

There are some new elements to help the world work, like new gases and solids that are extremely light yet tough. But I haven't quite figured out the new elements yet.


closed as too broad by JDługosz, Hohmannfan, Thucydides, bilbo_pingouin, Frostfyre Sep 12 '16 at 12:21

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  • $\begingroup$ Are the landmasses man made? $\endgroup$ – NuWin Sep 6 '16 at 3:58
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    $\begingroup$ Floating in air? "flying islands" might be a bit less confusing name. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Sep 6 '16 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ Does this alternative Earth consist of floating lands and air? Do the landmasses float above anything? If there is only floating landmasses & no oceans, what else is there? I'm asking for clarification, because I find it hard to visualize your world. If you can't reply in comments, please edit your question to clarify the details. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 6 '16 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ Understood. How this? $\endgroup$ – CadmusMorale Sep 6 '16 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ Just curious: what do they do for water? $\endgroup$ – Seeds Sep 6 '16 at 17:46

I think you would be better off without a precise date of "invention of transportation". If you think about it on our earth, it's not like one day, boats was not invented, and the next day, everyone embarks to America. It took several centuries, with several versions of boats (small fishing boats, Mediterranean boats, viking boats, large colonization vessels, steam boats, ...), and including even more precise navigation methods (looking at stars, lighthouses, compass, GPS, ...)

Hence, I would probably make a timeline of inventions of Ballons:

  • Many cultures found that you can float a small balloon millennia ago, probably many island used it in a small scale to get around their floating island, maybe the really close islands, but not far beyond.
  • One or several cultures developed bigger and better balloons, probably due to particularly favorable no-wind zones (kinda like Mediterranean, Baltic sea, and other favorable seas on earth)
  • Some day, after several inventions for better balloons and navigation, it was possible to reach far islands, and put them on a map.
  • Balloon construction has been made into a grand scale, permitting large scale military and civilian use, even to the farthest islands.

How large are your islands? Are any Australia-sized? How far apart are they generally? Do they tend from flat to mountainous or are they uniform in a particular way?

First, I would consider what could possibly make foot travel between islands possible, and figure out which simple machines could aid foot travel. Or more specifically, what would make foot travel necessary: Do all islands have the necessary raw materials for food, inventing the types of machines you envision, etc., or would you need to go elsewhere?

The other crucial thing is by what means are lighter-than-air gases obtained. Or if it's all hot air balloons, as I think you're specifying, where the combustible materials come from. Oil could easily be a very early discovery in your world, and the first vehicles could be wicker platforms with vellum or somesuch for the balloon, and an oil reserve with a hand pump to feed a fire. It's up to you whether or not this vehicle is plausible around the time the first tools are being made, I suppose.


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