Sky Ships are fictional flying ships from Paul Stewart's fantasy book series The Edge Chronicles. Sky ships are the equivalent of water borne ships in the Edge universe and are used primarily for transporting supplies and valuable commodities across the Edge.
Sky ships resemble 15-18th century European style wooden sailing ships, with one or more large buoyant rocks placed in the centre of the hull which creates lift. They make use of triangular or square sails for maneuvering, which are hung from their masts like conventional ships or from the ship's hull.
They are depicted in the books through drawings by Chris Riddell.
Members of a sky ship crew
Parts of a sky ship
The most distinguishing feature of a sky ship is its flight rock. In the Edge Universe, some varieties of rock float depending on their ambient temperature - sinking when hot, and rising when cold. The temperature of the rock is controlled by a Stone Pilot who uses the flight burners and cooling rods on the flight rock platform to alter the ship's altitude. The flight rock is penetrated by various pipes that transfer heat around it and housed in a cage between the fore and aft hulls.
Flight rock platform and flight burners
The flight rock platform is situated on top of the flight rock cage and has several levers built into it that allow the Stone Pilot to control the temperature with bellows and cooling rods. The flight burners are flaming torches mounted near the flight rock and connected to it through metal pipes that provide the heat needed to control the sky ship's altitude.
Fore and aft hulls
The hull of a sky ship is split into two sections; the fore hull normally contains the crew's sleeping quarters, some small hull weights and a hold, and the aft hull contains a cargo bay, food storage, galley, infirmary and the housing for control cables and interior hull weights. These areas may also be included in areas of the aft castle.
A series of weights are chained to the hull and housed inside the aft-castle and fore-hull, used to control the sky ships balance. They are controlled from the helm by one bank of flight levers.
Use of sky ships
Due to the difficulty of transporting items and people to and from the centre of commerce on the Edge (Undertown) and the location of most resources (the Deepwoods), sky ships are the only vessels able to travel easily across the Edge to trade, being able to fly safely over the Mire and the Twilight Woods. They are therefore very important to inhabitants of the Edge, who often rely on them for income and food.
Sky ships are not only used for dealings with natural goods and livestock, but are sometimes used to transport a more morbid cargo: slaves. Illegally captured slaves are transported to markets within the Deepwoods. Although slavery is banned within Undertown, some groups of individuals (such as sky pirate Thunderbolt Vulpoon) have been known to con innocent individuals into boarding ships where they will be imprisoned and sold into slavery elsewhere.
The Knights Academy of Sanctaphrax also makes use of sky ships, most notable are those built specifically for Stormchasing. Every five years or so, a Great Storm passes over the Edge and deposits a bolt of Stormphrax - a crystal of pure lightning - within the Twilight Woods. A chosen Knight is chosen to chase this Storm, locate the Stormphrax and return with it to Sanctaphrax. These ships are among the finest to be built, designed for great speed and strength to withstand strong winds of massive storms. A notable Knight's Ship is the Stormchaser, captained by the former Knight Quintinius Verginix.
Notable sky ships
- The Galerider
- The Great Sky Whale
- The Bringer Of Doom
- The Skyraider
Variations of sky ships
Similar fantasy vehicles include:
- Airships in Earthdawn
- Skyships in Eberron
- Spelljamming ships in Spelljammer
- Skyships in the Savage Worlds setting Sundered Skies
- Windships in The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy by Bradley P. Beaulieu
- Airships in The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
- Voidships in The Daedalus Trilogy by Michael J. Martinez