As suggested last Thursday, I spent my writing time this weekend on flash fiction. I ended up with two fifty-word pieces I’m pretty happy with. One of them’s a very traditional horror story, and the other has a twist. I’d like to hammer out a 500-word entry, too; we’ll see if anything comes to me this week.
As for the form, I think it has its good points and its bad points. It forces me to be efficient in my descriptions, which is a good thing. At the same time, it encourages some not-always-useful shorthands: it takes more words to show than to tell, and using nonstandard dialog tags is nearly a requirement to communicate emotions I’d generally prefer to fit into the narrative. It’s definitely a useful exercise, though, and it’s been fun trying to hit such a specific word target.
In other news (that is, to make this a more reasonably-sized update), I was thinking about how little Inconstant has shown up in Nathaniel Cannon stories to date—she’s been a home base and a launching point for various operations, but she hasn’t really had the chance to develop into a character in her own right (cf. Serenity). Since she was originally designed for a roleplaying game campaign, I have a lot of detail I haven’t revealed in-story yet. I’m going to put some of it here.
Inconstant was built in 1925 in Marseilles, and represents then-state-of-the-art aircraft-carrying zeppelin technology and architecture. As a zeppelin in the French-British school, she focuses more on supporting her air wing, bucking the German trend toward multiple decks of broadside guns in favor of additional capacity for planes and supplies. Her skyhooks are set to the far right side of her flight deck, leaving room for aircraft transfer along the left side while launch or recovery operations are in progress.
Her crew usually weighs in between 200 to 215, fluctuating as pirates sign on or end their association with the Long Nines gang. 40 to 50 are combat pilots and experienced fighters on the ground, though more like half of the crew knows how to fly and land at a zeppelin carrier. I haven’t had time to work up profiles on most of the crew, so that’s why we saw Amelia Burr, Charlie Henderson, and Pietro di Giacomo again in Dutchman’s Cross. None of them are main characters, but they definitely qualify as ‘recurring’ at this point.
She has eight engines mounted internally, connected to propeller and transmission housings in strut-mounted pods on her flanks. Each pod features a defensive gun mount. She is primarily fueled by blaugas, which serves to increase her capacity for independent operations—since blaugas is about the same weight as air, she doesn’t need to worry about changing trim as the engines burn fuel. Her range is about 9,000 nautical miles (the distance from New York to Singapore via London, Alexandria, and Bangalore), at a speed of 85 statute miles per hour (about 70 knots).
Besides her air wing and short-range guns, she mounts six three-inch flak guns per broadside, with another mount at the bow and an aerial minelayer at the stern. (If you’re an oddball weapons wonk, think Unrotated Projectile for aerial minelayer. Otherwise, look up ‘Unrotated Projectile’ on Wikipedia. They’re really quite cool.) Between the guns, a heavy air wing, supplies for the above, and oodles of fuel, she gives up most of her cargo space in favor of combat capability. This in turn limits the sort of pirating she can do; she doesn’t have the internal capacity to pilfer bulky things.
There’s more, but I’m saving it for another rainy day.