The Guns Above Q5 Airships


The airships of The Guns Above were a focus of the plot. Did the technical language intrude upon the story? Did you understand the structure of the airships? Did what happened in the story make sense to you?


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    I thought this was a strong element of the book. I wasn't always sure that I understood where everything fitted, and wouldn't be able to draw an airship plan from memory, but I certainly got the impression that the captain and crew knew what was what, where it was, and how to get the best out of it all. For example, the whole thing of tweaking the drive and propellers to get more speed - I have no idea if the changes would actually do what was alleged, but the process of investigation and resolution was nicely written.

    Of course I was curious what gas they were using, how it was produced and distributed, and a whole host of other things to do with the society at large, but the lack of those things didn't interfere with my reading.

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    I thought there was too much technical exposition. It didn't help that it was all invented by the author for this book. Other Napoleonic military books (Sharpe, Hornblower) at least have the benefit of including some genuine historical detail on their exposition. The technical explanations here smacked of how poor students include irrelevant detail in reports: they did the work on subject X, so they'll include it in the report even if it adds nothing.

    There was also that the changes to the airship were excessive. Would you expect a submarine captain to change the the vessel from four screws to two while at sea on the first trial? Adding a lot of additional bracing at the back end of a balloon would change the balance and probably have a huge effect on handling.

    I can see what Bennis was trying to do, but I don't think she pulled it off.

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    Was there a story? I'm not sure there was much of a story to intrude upon, to be honest. I level the same criticism at the Sharpe series, where I'm convinced books 3-9 (nine is a far as I've read) are all the same story re-told. What really happened in this book, of consequence, apart from 'sardonic government observer antagonist comes to appreciate the person he's set to observe'. Along the way, there were battles, technical problems were solved, and nameless enemies were vanquished. But to what end? They'll just do it all again in the next novel.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    I level the same criticism at the Sharpe series, where I'm convinced books 3-9 (nine is a far as I've read) are all the same story re-told.

    Yah, this is why indie historical fiction writers feel aggrieved - the successful trad published ones like Cornwell seem to make shedloads of money by repeating a pattern over and over again through a series, while the indie guys and girls are super inventive as regards setting or plot, but (usually) just don't get far by way of sales.

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    Yes I understood them, but there was too much telling rather than showing.

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