A World Before Clockwork Watch

First – the Word – 1766:
Enlightenment arrives as people take to the skies in balloons, they are no longer constrained by geography. The first commercial dirigibles are launched in 1785. Traders from India travel the Silk Road, bringing with them the substance that will later become known as Ambinium – a rock that floats when treated with simple acids.

Cities in the Sky – 1800:
The experiments on Ambinium and the development of airships leads to sky cities – large vessels that can dock and stay off the ground for long periods. This affluent move into the clouds is to exploit the benefits; with no houses, there is no tax, trade is free and above the law. Gambling finds a new home.

Sky Piracy – 1815:
The arrival of sky pirates soon puts paid to the golden age of airborne life. With no law enforcement or other defence, the floating palaces are sitting targets. People begin arming themselves and the “Air Wars” begin.

Air Tax – 1817:
To close the loophole exploited by dirigible owners, the government passes a law which taxes tethered aviation. The revenues generated, the government claims, are being used to fund the war against sky pirates.

Reformation – 1840:
A schism occurs within the Church of England. The debated doctrine is believed to encourage the continuation of occult-like practices. The debate gives rise to the Aesthetics movement. The Church survives the schism, but purges many Aesthetics. They are labelled heretics and in some remote villages, burnt at the stake.

Saryn – 1872:
The war that wasn’t. A strange new mineral is discovered in Saryn, in the outer regions of Kazakhstan. On the advice of scientists, British troops traipse halfway across the world to protect the nation’s mining rights. In the brutal conditions, fewer than 2% the soldiers reach the front line. Of those that make it, only a handful return. The mineral is never mined and the supposed life-enhancing properties of the substance are never properly investigated. Scarred by loss, the country would rather forget about the war. In response, MP’s within the House of Lords label Science “the widow-maker”.