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which explanation sounds better?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Hëradïn, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. I really like to know what is going on in the worlds that I create, so when I decided to add floating islands in my newest world Anjriil, I had to come up with a way to explain it, even it is never comes up in the story itself.

    explanation 1
    during the creation of Anjriil, by chance there happened to be metals in parts of the crust and the moon happened to be magnetic and so those parts of the land float in the air whenever the moon is over head.

    Additional thoughts: would the magnetic field of Anjriil mess with the floating islands... or perhaps because of it they come back down each day? but then couldn't gravity do that and, with the extra force, what would the effects be on the island's inhabitants when they come back to Anjriil each morning.

    explanation 2
    great pockets of hygrogen and helium where trapped in parts of the land and whenever the moon is over its gravity pulls those pieces of land into the air (kind of like how the tides work, though bill o'reilly might not know how those work...)

    Additional thoughts: how does hydrogen and helium stay in rocks, especially when they are slamming down each morning, it seems they may sink slower, but even with less force the gasses would eventually seep out I think. perhaps some islands did leak all their gasses and some people saw this coming and cast some sort of magic... but is that in itself a good enough explanation? or just a cliché cop-out?

    Anyway, I'd like to hear your feedback on this idea. Or perhaps you have an alternate explanation? I'll hear all!
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    What sticks out to me is how the moon affects the floating islands. If they are affected kind of like the tide it implies they're geostationary so they're in the same geographical location all the time. If they're not, I'd think they'd eventually converge somewhere. Either they would be dragged along by the moon and end up always between it and the planet. The other option is they floating islands would eventually get stranded on mountainside - somewhere where the mountains are high enough that the moon can't drag the mountains over them

    The idea that they're coming back to the surface in the morning is interesting. Do they land completely or do they just hang closer to the ground? If they land, how would people in the area handle that, especially if the islands aren't geostationary? Having a floating island come crashing down on you would be a risk you'd definitely have to take into account.

    Keeping them afloat through gasses seems a bit contrived. I'd buy how it could happen in one or two case, but for nature to spontaneously arrange itself in such a way in more than a very few rare cases seems unlikely (but it could happen). A better (?) option might be that there are minerals that are somehow lighter than air. If you have the islands made up largely out of such minerals you'd also have them changing altitude depending on air pressure. If they're not anchored down they'd move around with the winds though. Eventually they'd end up in locations where the winds meet and the only way out for the air is up. Then you'd probably have them stationed there unless someone drags them off.

    Having the island float by magic means may at first seem like a cliche cop out, but explaining it by magic will save you a whole lot of headache when considering all kinds of other implications. The good thing here is that once you have the reader accept that there ae enormous rocks floating in the sky, they probably won't have a hard time accepting that they're kept in place by magic.
    Hëradïn likes this.
  3. Most things I have been considering, save for the lighter than air minerals (unless you count the hydrogen and helium.) I did not mean to give the impression that the Andriil came by natural means, it was created by the gods who follow Keïngi. My solution to the migrating islands was going to be that once they floated freely in the air but eventually were anchored with several large chains.

    Ah! Perhaps the moon is made from a specific material and the islands are composed of another material that is attracted to the moon stuff and would have nothing to do with magnetism? But chains, yes... lots and lots of chains.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    This is a fantasy novel, right? So why try to come up with a science fiction explanation? A magical explanation isn't necessarily easier to concoct, but you can sometimes find ways to weave the explanation directly into the plot.
  5. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    First up magnetic attraction sucks as an explanation. Don't forget it operates on an inverse squared principle, so the further two things are apart the lesser the attractive / repulsive forces will be between them. So if your islands are attracted by the moon then settle, thereafter they will be further apart, and so the attractive forces placed on them each time the moon is overhead will be less. I.e. they might float once, (something which would require a phenomenal magnetc force), but not twice. On the other hand if they are instead repelled by the ground, that force will grow stronger exponentially as they approach, so they would never settle.

    If we're going for magic I'd suggest something like floating trees (yggdrasil etc). A tree which naturally floats but holds itself down to the ground through its roots. Now have enough trees anchored to a small piece of ground that is not well connected to what's underneath and you have a floating island. An island that will slowly float higher and higher as the trees grow, so one which you control by pruning.

    Cheers, Greg.
    Hëradïn likes this.
  6. Floating... trees?? That's a great idea! I've always liked the idea of Yggdrasil, a tree connecting multiple worlds. Perhaps that could play into the plot... anyway I'd like the moon to still be involved some how. I'll keep thinking about it.
  7. KC Trae Becker

    KC Trae Becker Troubadour

    This is brilliant! I've played around with similar ideas, but the idea that the island floats higher as the trees grow and can be controlled by pruning leads to numerous potential cultural adaptation strategies. Thanks for sharing this idea.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Maybe the moon controls the flowering of the trees, like they only flower when the moon is full?
  9. perhaps the flowers vibrate a some frequency when bathed in the light reflected off the moon and that makes the trees vibrate and ultimately the floating islands themselves.
  10. Klezmer Gryphon

    Klezmer Gryphon Acolyte

    If the trees flower and vibrate when bathed in moon light, what would happen on nights when there is no moon? Would these islands simply not float?
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    I was wondering along the same lines. What happens in winter, if it gets cold enough there that there are no plants?
  12. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

    All right, without inventing any new (and pretty strange) forces, the planet has a thin crust with a liquid layer beneath it. Under this in turn is another solid layer.

    Within the liquid layer is a single high density solid lump, pulled around by the moon's attraction (gravitational) This is intensively magnetised, so it's probably solid nickel-iron. Lumps of the material this is made from hang around loose on the surface, and the ones whose repulsive poles face downwards leap in the air when the lump travels underneath. Small ones tend to flip over so they're attracted down, but big ones don't get high enough they can flip.

    The gas fill just doesn't work. Air's too light, you'd need a skin of rock too thin.
  13. Michael J. Tobias

    Michael J. Tobias Scribe

    Best answer. ;)

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