The Sky-Story

So this is a new thing this Neathmas and I thought it would be worth analyzing.

We start with the Advent Calendar text:

[quote=Fifth Day Advent Calendar]At the back of the Blind Helmsman, a Frostbitten Midshipman shivers by the fire. She says she travelled with a Merchant Venturer to a frozen Northern door. For a mulled cider, she’ll tell you what was behind it.

[You buy her the cider and she tells you.]

The High Wilderness! An unblemished frontier of endless night, awash with potential. The Merchant Venturer is out there, plying the wind-roads of the void. Where one has gone, may others follow?[/quote]
Then there’s the text of the Sky Story itself.

So, I’ve noticed three things.

First, the Merchant Venturer is presumed alive! This seems to foreshadow that he’s leaving a considerable legacy for the player to follow. Maybe there will be a meeting of some sort.

Second, the zailor and Sky Story’s portrayal of the High Wilderness. Both explicitly frame the Sky as limitless, pristine frontier of infinite possibilities. The unspoken implication of this framing is that the High Wilderness awaits human trade, development, exploitation, and colonization. Such, after all, is what historically happened with wilderness areas and frontiers throughout the 19th century. European and American empires moved in, established trade posts, mines, plantations, railways and colonies, co-opted or conquered indigenous societies, and competed with each other for territory and prestige. Individual settlers migrated to those places to start new lives, improve their standard of living, attain wealth and social prestige, establish improved societies or Utopian communities, and of course practice their religion freely (or, in more sinister colonies and frontiers, discard moral restrictions altogether). Imperialism and imperial competition have always been a part of Fallen London and Sunless Sea, but it seems that in Sunless Sky this element will become far more important. London in the High Wilderness is going to be far more of an empire than it is now.

But you can also see in the zailor’s and Sky Story’s words the inherent tension between the individual and the imperial possibilities. The possibilities of the High Wilderness as perceived by an imperial elite presiding over a predatory and expansionist state are going to be very different, often antithetical, with the possibilities for social and individual transformation as perceived by many Londoners. And of course London’s expansion will presumably be opposed by many older inhabitants of the High Wilderness and competing societies/empires (whatever those are).

Third, the Sky-Story itself is a collectible knowledge curiosity item, a heavenly sibling of the Zee-Ztory. While plying the wind-roads of the High Wilderness, future sky venturers will collect Sky Stories and use them in quests, encounters, item conversions, and markets, much as zee captains collected, converted and sold Zee-Ztories, Memories of Distant Shores, Tales of Terror, Visions of the Surface, and Moves in the Great Game.
edited by Anne Auclair on 12/7/2016

That London imagines the High Wilderness as a frontier is further emphasized by a particular Tether trip:

[quote=Sunless Sea]Tether melts in your mouth

You breathe in the stench; hold it in your lungs. THer’s nothing like the smell of British engineering. Nor like listening to the engine-roar of your own vessel, bought and paid for. The impellers whir. The pistons race. She’s eager for the Wilderness.

The Shap Driver salutes as she enters. &quotCargo’s loaded.&quot What are you lugging this time? She adjusts her smoked googles, and fakes a barkers effusive tones &quotMurgatrsayd’s Inestimable Frontier Supplies. Affordable, reliable - a taste of old London.&quot You both pull faces.[/quote]

It was an item given out during the Advent Calendar in December. It was a teaser of sorts for Sunless Skies, currently without value or use (though that may change in the future). The icon was a lamppost floating in a red background. The text is as described above. That’s about it.
edited by Siankan on 3/27/2017

It remains to be seen whether Sky Stories will become available more readily in London, or just be available through the Advent Calendar, or whether the one many of us received through the Calendar last Christmas will turn out to have been a one-off.

So are the people flying around the High Wilderness still ‘zailors’, or are they sailors again, or are they astronauts? ‘wailors’? ‘skailors’? ‘wildailors’?!

If I know anything about Londoners, the word you’re looking for is probably ‘trouble’.

I think “sky zailors” would be a good name for “the people flying around the High Wilderness”, but that will depend on FBG, of course.

I would use “cosmonauts” but then, I’m not in charge.

I suspect that the Sky Story will probably end up like Moves in the Great Game. Moves in the Great Game are really Sunless Sea items. In Sunless Sea they are very important and have a multitude of uses, whereas in Fallen London they don’t really have a use yet beyond selling them for pennies. I think Sky Stories will be the same thing - there will be seasonal and exceptional sources for them, but they won’t really have a use.

Of course it’s possible that Failbetter has FL plans for Moves in the Great Game, what with their to-do list being so large already.