Monday, April 28, 2014

Why aren't you writing (#1) ... Modern airship boys tales?

Welcome to my new and hopefully batshit new series on genres that you should be writing. Why should you be writing these new genres? I don't know, really--largely these are genre mash-ups that fit together really well; or, as in today's entry, it's a rediscovery and update of a forgotten subgenre.

Airship boys. It wasn't that much a subgenre and it's pretty much what it says on the tin: these are the boys' own adventure stories of a group of adventurous boys who adventure in airships. Of course, Thomas Pynchon got here before us, since his Against the Day features a hilarious and accurate depiction of a group of chums going on adventures. (Naturally, they have a dog mascot.)

If you must have some self-improvement from this post, here it is:
  1. airship tales clearly come out of the Edisonade tradition in American dime novels, where (for instance) some young boy creates a cool invention (often a deadly vehicle) and goes on an adventure with some other people (mostly boys, occasionally with some man or two, occasionally an uneducated and folksy black servant);
  2. these adventures often take the form of going into the wilderness and fighting with outlaws or with dangerously savage native people;
  3. and there weren't actually a lot of airship boys stories, probably because the Wright Bros. invented the cooler heavier-than-air plane. 
    1. So Harry Lincoln Sayler wrote a series called The Airship Boys and the first title was The Airship Boys; or, The quest of the Aztec Treasure (1909)..., but the second title was The Airship Boys adrift; or, Saved by an aeroplane (1910).
So let's take this central premise--a group of chums with an airship get into various adventures--and let's give it a modern update. Why should the chums be all dudes? Why should the helper adult be a folksy black man? Why should the adventures be largely around treasure hunts into "savage" native territory? Why should the plundering, almost piratical boys be the heroes of the stories?

Why aren't you writing a modern update to airship boys tales?

Update: As friend of the blog Summer points out, there is a tradition of girls aviation stories, as seen here (largely from the 1930s, though there's at least one series from the 1910s, the same time as Harry Lincoln Sayler is writing The Airship Boys stories). (Bonus: the early stuff is out of copyright and easily available online.) So, when you're writing modern airship girl stories, you have the double pleasure of pushing against the out-dated boys' Edisonade; and updating a pre-existing girl aviator genre.

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