Here is a sketch of a floating city of my own creation, from my written work. Courtesy of Seonhee Lim, who can be found over at http://limsh.com/ .
We’ve all seen them. In games, movies and literature, a city in the heavens or at lwast islands among the clouds. The whole discussion about “man looking at birds and dreaming of flight since the early days” has been done to death. But actually living up there? Personally I find the idea terrifying, but fun nonetheless.
If you’re a fan of Hayou Miyazaki’s works, you are likely familiar with an animated movie called Laputa: Castle in the Sky. In this story, we have humanity reaching a technological apex only blow up in wars against one another, resulting in survivors rebuilding civilization. By the time that story starts, the old titular technology is forgotten and considered myth.
If you’re a fan of RPGs, you’ll likely recall the nation of Zeal from Chrono Trigger, or perhaps more recently (though not so recent anymore) the city of Dalaran from the World of Warcraft universe. Zeal was a nation of floating islands populated by a magically hyper-advanced people (about eight of them, in fact, to fill the whole country. Ah, the glroy of ye olde school RPGs), while Dalaran was a city state of wizards who opted to lift their home out of the earth and position it as a sort of mobile fortress against the Lich King of Northrend. Both were magically influenced, their power very clearly demonstrated.
Another, from one of my favorite books The Thran by J. Robert King, featured a capital city, called Halcyon, of an advanced machine-based civilization not very unlike that of Laputa, though there was less of a steampunk influence. Also similar to Laputa, by the time Halcyon was rediscovered all of its human inhabitants had gone extinct. They also have a commonality of a powerstone fuel source that makes all their machines work and their abilities as a civilization so advanced.
Lastly, and briefly, there’s Bioshock: Infinite, a more recent game the likes of which I sadly have not yet played (as of this posting), but I’ve seen footage and heard stories. Columbia appears to be a city that levitates thanks to interdimensional manipulation, which I cannot pretend to understand, but it’s certainly different from just “magic” and “big propellers.”
Of course there are others; Zelda Skyward Sword, Metropolis and even the city in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo gets the shaft come to mind, but I think I’ve already over-listed.
So we have a handful of examples. Let’s step back a moment and contemplate this: living in the sky. By today’s standards, perhaps that’s not so insane – aside from a few problems like sustained energy and getting food/water/air up there – but it’s feasible. Imagine it then from the perspective of a medieval mind, or heck, someone from the American Industrial Revolution. Of course, this is coming from a writer who finds it amazing that one can step aboard a giant metal cylinder and, hours later, reemerge in another country.
That’s what this post is really about, sharing the awe I feel when I really think about a floating city. It’s easy to say “Oh sure, a city up in the sky,” but to truly comprehend the engineering required or the implications something like this would have on our lives is mind boggling.
Well, at least to me. Just sharing my wonder.