I was musing about pulp settings the other day. Off the top of my head:
It’s the 1930s, and the Romany have taken to the skies. After the Hindenburg disaster, the public shied away from hydrogen dirigibles; but Paulo Pettersen, the sort of engineering genius who comes along once in a generation, believed he could make the vessels safe enough. What’s more, he convinced quite a few others of the same, and la! Before anyone realized it, the Romany flew, rising up above Europe in first a dozen and then a hundred great silvery balloons.
The second part of his genius idea, you see, was to provide a place for the gazhe to do the things they couldn’t do down below. Gambling, women, privacy — and luxury, for those who had the money to spare. Why not? If Bugsy Siegel could build a paradise out of desert, surely the Romany could build one out of air.
It worked, and within a few years the skies of Europe were the playgrounds of the well-off… and the hunting grounds of the political services of Europe’s nations. After all, the dirigibles were a much more convenient neutral ground than Morocco.
Paulo oversaw it all with a benevolent smile, which hid a worried frown. The inspiration for the flying nation was not his alone, as it happened; his wife, Zigana, was a seer. It was she who’d guided Paulo to success — and it was she who’d foreseen the coming clouds.
All historical and cultural inaccuracies are mine (and yeah, I slipped some dates here and there for the sake of fiction). In fact, anyone who takes anything in this as solid history should be gently mocked until cured of the habit.