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Literature / The Flying Cloud

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A Web Serial Novel set in an Alternate History in which World War 1 ended two years early in complete stalemate, leaving Europe's governments and national borders largely unchanged. The world is ostensibly at peace, though a cold war still brews between the opposing sides. In the absence of military imperative, heavier-than-air flight has failed to reach practicality and the skies are ruled by airships.


Captain Roland P. Everett of the Royal Navy Airship Service is on routine patrol duty over the Pacific Ocean when his vessel is ambushed by a massive cruiser of unknown origin. Caught by surprise, he is able to save only a few of his crew by taking refuge on the still-airborne bow of the bisected ship as the stern plunges into the ocean. They manage to reach an island containing a French colony, only to discover a German airship already docked. As the two nations are still officially at war, he decides to investigate, and finds himself drawn into a power struggle that threatens not only himself and his crew, but the very foundations of an already tenuous peace.

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"The Flying Cloud" contains examples of:

  • Allohistorical Allusion: many, most frequently to places that took prominence in WWII.
  • Alternate History
  • Big Bad: The eight-engined airship, and whoever is running it.
  • Bi Lingual Bonus
  • Brick Joke: "That's a very unimaginative name."
  • Brown Note: This is assumed to be how the Fantastic Nuke works.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: If they're given a name, expect them to show up eventually.
    • Lampshaded in Episode 122, when Captain Everett encounters a war surplus tank with the name "Chekhov's Gun" painted on its side. You'll never guess what vehicle the good Captain ends up driving just three episodes later...
  • Christmas Episode: Once a year, like clockwork.
  • Cool Airship: the Flying Cloud, which is incredibly fast for its size.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jenkins is a signalman of the Royal Navy Signal Corps, goes into situations prepared for most eventualities, or has a particular set of skills or knowledge on the most obscure of subjects handy at the moment. Captain Everett explains that "his other talents remain a mystery, for members of the Signal Corps have secrets that are not for such as you and I to know."
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  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: This is one of the possibilities raised during an in-universe Wild Mass Guessing session about what the bad guys want with uraninite.
  • Fantastic Nuke: What the crew assumes the bad guys are building.
  • Fish People: "Dear old Dagon and his wonderful fishy friends".
  • Gambit Pileup: It seems that the cast discover a new faction every time they walk through a door.
  • Genius Bonus: The amount of subjects needed to understand the references in each chapter is astounding.
  • Ice Queen: Miss Perkins, though she may be thawing a little.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the characters comes from a tribe of cannibals. Played for Laughs.
  • In Medias Res: Episode 1
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Lower-Deck Episode: Episode 141
  • Message In A Smuggling Crate
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever Helga's crew did with cymbals and roller skates at the Germans' Christmas Party.
    • Episode 197 mentions a past conflict between Baron Warfield and Viscount Millbridge in Burma. All we know is that water buffalo were involved.
      • Also, in the same episode, whatever Lady Millbridge did to Baroness Warfield with the ice skates and barrels of salt.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: One of the few privileges of being a clerk.
  • Private Eye Monologue:
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: H. P. Lovecraft is captain of a tramp freighter.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Oh, that's alright then."
    • Abercrombie and MacKiernan betting a shilling over anything and everything.
    • Iwamoto insists that he just "Comes with engines" whenever anyone questions him about his origin.
    • In the earlier chapters, Iverson expects scenarios to work out like the plots of radio dramas, then explained to that real life is not the same.
    • The Trapezohedron
    "I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about," he replied, unable to imagine what the German could possibly want with a dual polyhedron of an n-gonal antiprism.
  • Shout-Out: James Bond, H. P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, and Star Trek each get a few.
  • Shown Their Work: The author dives quite a bit into the details of airship piloting.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The cast tries to keep proper English composure at all times (unless they're Scottish).
  • The Cameo: Almost every chapter will have some historical figure appear. It's always plot relevant, and usually funny.
  • The Sky Is an Ocean: Airships are operated by the navy, and are given names and classifications similar to water ships.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: The primary means of air travel, aside from a few enthusiasts.


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