Having recently become enamoured of Kipling’s classic “With the Night Mail” and his Aerial Board of Control universe, I was interested to see that Quillette has a long new survey of the genre of the airplane novel. Exploring especially how it was blown off-course in response to terrorist events…
Gone are the days when aviator/authors such as Nevil Shute and Ernest K. Gann and Paul Beaty wrote about airplane travel as if it were an almost spiritual experience. That type of novel lost its hold on the public’s imagination when men […] began boarding airplanes with a nefarious purpose in mind. The golden age of hijacking only lasted from 1965–1972, but its impact on popular culture endures.
I’d add that Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” might be considered to be, in part, among the ‘airplane tales’ of the 1930s. But there the ‘spiritual experience’ of height and far-sight is flipped into horror.
I guess, in a way, that the 1970s ‘turn’ in the genre then subtly opened a way for the nascent steampunk to offer a home for the old and vanished ‘romance of air-travel’. If only with dirigibles, zeppelins, balloons and personal ‘fliers’ of various kinds.
Also new on Archive.org. in a Loompanics book from the 1980s, the opposite. A chapter surveying the key examples of The Inner World in Fiction. ‘Inner World’ here meaning various non-horror ideas of subterranean realms under the earth.