AIRSHIP UTOPIA: the novel
(Introduction to an alternative, parallel version of our world where the airship utopia is in the process of being created.)
Witchy sat in the chair of the colonial governor. Although the colonists don't know it, she thought, I am the ruler of the colony now. What would the empire do, what would the emperor do, if he found out? Probably war, invasion conquest, reconquest. They’ll bombard the cities from the sea. How can we resist, with worker militias and tribal warriors, a few thousand against how many? Could witchcraft help? Could potions, herbs, spells and incantations help? It would take more than witchcraft. Of course I’ll need the help of all of my companions, the crew of the Airlion, who put me here, governor of the colony. If any of them, one of them revealed the truth, everything could be lost.
The colony, the whole continent lay at her feet. She looked at her feet, prim, mocassined thinking they look the same, will they fill the boots of the governor?
A continent on which to write, a blank slate. What should I do? What should I do first?
She resolved to rule differently from any other power on earth in all of history; wars armies, laws, police. How was it even possible. If invaded, to resist, they would need armies, and taxes, all the stuff of government, no matter how loathsome.
We took it, she thought, how can we possibly hold it?
First we must take steps to hide our takeover, to keep the governor secure now that I have spared his life, to keep them thinking he still rules.
She looked at Airlion, tethered in the courtyard of the governor’s palace, bobbing in the soft breeze at her mooring. An airship based society, an airship utopia. Is it even possible?
Her mind raced, the land the continent doomed to be penetrated, raped by rails and roads, and cites, and swarms of migrants chopping, burning the forests, slaughtering the wild creatures shed already seen it all in the civilization she’d escaped. She’d been given an opportunity, totally unexpected, un-imagined, to do things another way.
Airships. Airships only, no roads, no rails, no canals, no stench of factories, no mines gouging the earth, no cities. Is it even possible?
We'll have to lock up the captured guards and ministers. So we must have prisons already. Deceive the Governor’s contacts, our liaisons with the empire, so we must lie, begin with a lie. It’s endless breaking of morality, of the golden rule, this revolution from above.
She looked at Airlion again. Revolution, she thought revolution from above, literally, revolution from above.
The fleet of colonial airships was now at her command - so long as they believed her orders were from the governor. Could they be used, how could they be used to save a continent?
Won't get them to attack the imperial fleet, should they attack. If they knew the truth they would swarm here, and retake this place, and reestablish the colony.
She must consult she realized. She called in to the room, Stu as they called him because he was a student, and now, her scientist, and Effraim, her engineer, Best, both of them in all this world or the last one, she thought. What could be done, how practical was her idea, an airship based civilization.
And, could this new civilization eliminate the industrial apocalypse that is steamtown.
"Well," said Eff, "to build airships we need to keep steamtown with its workshops and factories,, and workers, skilled workers along with all of the basic jobs. And we’ll need sources of iron and steel and fuel for smelting."
“So we’re back to factories, and all they require,” said Witchy, “and mines, I suppose we’ll need mines and the messes they make.”
“Fraid so” said Eff “to have a fleet of airships.
The other members of the Airlion crew were called into the chamber, appraised of the discussion.
Stu and Eff were not much concerned about the primeval forests, Thoro, Bark, Blancours, Otto were all enthralled. "Think of all we avoid, roads, and railroads, and steamships, a lot of the stuff of the civilization we left behind." said Thoro.
Zee said, "Imagine, no steamships ruining the air, Sailing boats, certainly they would have a place in this new society right?"
On it went, this taking apart and putting together a new society, a new nation, a new civilization. She thought of America, the destruction, the massacres, the waste, the ruin, thinking, This time we’ll do it right.
Said Eff, ever practical engineer, "Keep a continent pristine trackless wilderness? How can we possibly defend it, get the resources, the fighters to keep it? More likely we’ll lose it to some military behemoth, to the Empire or one of its rivals. Then we’ll be back to square one. We need people, we need population to have "soldiers."
"Cannon fodder, you mean," said Thoro.
"Shall we just give up then, after getting this opportunity?" said Witchy.
Said Eff, "Win with peace, win without war, how is that even possible when we face an intractable enemy bent on conquest?"
No one had an answer. After a pause, everyone deep in thought, Thoro said, "Another thing to consider, if we disperse the workers of steamtown into the wilderness won't they ruin it all, as happened in America. Steamtown is a most inhospitable place, even before the devastation of the war. In ordinary times the air made you sick, the water undrinkable, the land a mass of decaying garbage where people tried to live. Isn't that so?" said addressing eff.
"Yea, Yer right." said Eff, "And I was part of it all, but I am making amends."
"Alleluia," said Thoro, "glad yer with us again."