This is question #1 regarding the background art of Worldbuilding.SE

One of the first things I noticed when I found this site was that amazing background picture. I like to think a great story can come out of any art, and this seems perfectly suited for it. This artwork has captivated my attention for a while now.

I've decided to split the questions for the world into multiple parts, and this is the first. The first thing I noticed and wanted to address was the flying whales above the city. They appear to be organic (not robotic), and I have no idea why they would be there.

The Question

What purpose might such a creature (a biological flying whale) serve in a futuristic city? The city I have in mind would be isolated, existing on another planet (possibly a desert planet that has many random features like the art), and full of people.

Edit: I have now seen the other post about flying whales and how they can work, but I'd still like to know what purpose they could serve (assuming they were engineered by humans).

I will post the links for the next questions as I write them, or feel free to write one yourself and post the link here:

Q1:Organic Flying Whales

Q2:Human Survival on the Surface of a Brown Dwarf Star

  • $\begingroup$ You edit serves well in differentiating this question from the one that is currently marked as the original. "Futuristic city" is a bit vague. Can you define this more? Do you have a specific society in mind or can you compare it to existing societies so that we can draw parallels? The most important thing is probably: what's the difference between that city and a any existing city. If you give us a bit more information I think this question could be reopened. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ Furthermore: You say that those whales were engineered by humans. How are they engineered? Depending on the design their purpose might be different. Maybe you could use the other question as inspiration. Just a little bit about how they can fly would be nice. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ Whales can't fly! Those whales are actually bouncing on trampolines. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ I fixed the duplication like 16 hours ago. What's the hold-up?(not trying to be rude just wondering if there's anything else I need to do) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ They are for amusement. Wait, are you saying it isn't a parade balloon? - jokes aside, I suggest to ask in the chat for help improving the question, and also to bring attention to reopen it. I would like some clarification, in particular, are we under the assumption that the humans (which you say they are) come from Earth? We need to have some idea of the technology level this civilization has. On that note, I think the brown dwarf idea just complicates this question even more. Edit: what makes a good answer for this question? $\endgroup$
    – Theraot
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 5:22

2 Answers 2


How could a biological organism of such mass attain the ability to fly? What purpose might such a creature serve?

How do you determine the mass? It could be a giant balloon filled with helium or hydrogen. Negligible mass but huge volume. Perhaps it filters pollutants or bugs out of the air. An incredible feat of genetic engineering.

If it is a whale and not just something that looks like a whale, have you considered the possibility that the world is underwater? I don't see a water/air divide, but perhaps someone could work around that.

If not underwater, consider the possibility that the atmosphere is simply very dense.

Note: these are possible explanations. I don't recall there being an actual story behind the art, at least not one that the artist shared. If you're looking for a canonical answer, you might be better off asking on meta. If nothing else, we could make up one.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, the goal of this is to make up our own story for it (thanks for making me think of that). Also, I thought of it being underwater but I wasn't sure of that because it would make pretty much all of the questions asked pretty easy to answer, and therefor defeating the purpose this. Other than that, good answer and +1 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 4:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Whilst it is just a technicality, I believe you meant negligible weight. If it is filled with helium and of such a large volume it would still have a considerable mass but the density of the creature is just much lower, leading it to be buoyant in air. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ @BlippThePanda "make up our own story for it" is open ended. Doesn't fit well in the Q&A format unless you give some requirements. Edit: was your plan never accepting an answer? $\endgroup$
    – Theraot
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Theraot I know it's not what the site is intended for, but I thought it would be fun for me personally to have a world built around this. As for the Q & A format, that's why I'm asking questions about the story instead of giving it to you, so there are ways to work around it. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ @BlippThePanda I get that. Yet, notice that a question could also get closed as too broad or as opinion based. So, there is need to narrow them down just enough. $\endgroup$
    – Theraot
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 5:49

There could be a variety of reasons for flying whales around cities:

1: Waste disposal - they could eat the byproducts of the population, or local airborne parasites

2: Transport - perhaps the society has minimal resources for flight, and the whales are an easy solution

3: Food - Whales could be a great source of food, and if they're flying they clearly don't need water, so would be useful for colonies

4: Entertainment - They're flying whales

5: Security - The robot guy with the glowing orb looks kinda shady, perhaps the whales are there to keep him at bay

6: Companionship - Whales are pretty smart apparently, perhaps they are pets

7: Rulers - Perhaps the whales run the whole show

I could go on, the list is practically endless, but I think I've made my point.

  • $\begingroup$ A little hint: If you think the list is practically endless this normally means that a question should be closed and edited as "too broad". You can flag a question for moderator attention if you think it doesn't fit the sites guidelines. Otherwise you should focus on the most important points and explain them in greater detail. In this case I think everything is fine, but you may want to delete the last line of your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Secespitus No, I like the last line - it provides closure. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 13:12

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