A Brief History
This article presents a list of floating islands in various types of fiction.
- The first floating island encountered in literature is the home of the four winds, Aiolia, as recounted in Homer‘s Odyssey:
Odysseus: We came to the Aiolian island (nesos Aiolios); here lived Aiolos, son of Hippotas; the deathless gods counted him their friend. His island is a floating one; all round it there is a wall of bronze, unbreakable, and rock rises sheer above it.— The Odyssey, 10.11
- According to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, c. 77–79 AD, there were floating islands on the Vadimonian Lake.2
- Some other mythological islands, such as the Symplegades and the Planctae in Greek mythology or Tír na nÓg in Irish mythology, moved about in the sea and may have been viewed as floating.3
- The book Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift features the floating land of Laputa.
- The second book in C. S. Lewis‘s science fiction trilogy, Perelandra, features floating islands on the oceans of Venus.
- Richard Head‘s 1673 book The Floating Island, features the fictional island Scotia Moria. The island was supposedly “to the eastward of Terra del Templo”, and the book was supposedly published by “Franck Careless, one of the discoverers”.4
- Floating islands in children’s literature include Sky Island (1912) by L. Frank Baum, Spidermonkey Island in The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922) by Hugh Lofting, Floating Island (1930) by Anne Parrish, The Floating Island (2006) by Elizabeth Haydon, and The Floating Islands (2011) by Rachel Neumeier.
- In the DC Comics book Wonder Woman, the island of Themyscira (Paradise Island) became a series of floating islands.
- Jules Verne‘s Propeller Island is set on an artificial floating island.
- Isaac Asimov‘s short story Shah Guido G. depicts an island only floating above and dominating the world.
- Yann Martel‘s book Life of Pi contains a floating island, inhabited by a kind of meerkat that feeds on fish.
- Mount Flatten in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show hovered above Earth‘s surface, due to its rich deposits of the gravity-defying mineral Upsidaisium.
- In the anime series Cowboy Bebop, the planet Venus has been terraformed using enormous floating plants that also provide living space.
- References to floating islands can be found in such science fiction TV series as Star Trek (original; 1966) episode “The Cloud Minders“, and the Firefly episode “Trash.”
- Floating islands are present in some episodes of the first season of Beast Wars: Transformers.
- Noah’s Island is a cartoon of the late 90’s, about a collection of animals who navigate the sea on a volcano-powered floating island.
- The television series Skyland, is set on floating islands of rock and earth.
- The French cartoon series Dragon Hunters takes place in a medieval world of floating land masses that is terrorized by dragons.
- The Nox from the television series Stargate SG-1 reveal a floating island to the members of SG-1 in the episode “The Nox.”
- SKYPIEA in the ONE PIECE anime.
- The anime Romeo x Juliet is set on Neo-Verona, an island held in the sky by two trees.
- The anime WorldEnd takes place on a series of floating islands, 500 years after the surface became uninhabitable.
- Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back is a floating city.
- In Flash Gordon, Arboria appears as a concave floating jungle continent above Mongo.
- In Castle in the Sky, the castle is built on a floating island.
- The 2009 film Avatar featured the floating mountains of Pandora, based on karst limestone mountains including those in Guilin, Huangshan and Zhang Jia Jie, China.5
Floating islands and continents are too common an element in video games for every appearance to be listed. However, a few examples of video games that have floating islands as a central theme or motif include:
- Stratosphere: Conquest of the Skies is based around combat between mobile floating islands.
- Granstream Saga takes place on floating islands.
- The entire world of Skies of Arcadia is a series of islands in the sky, with the ground being a sea of fog and mud.
- The world of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean and its prequel Baten Kaitos Origins primarily consists of floating islands in the sky.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword largely takes place on a series of islands in the sky, with the floating island of Skyloft being a hub for the game.
- BioShock Infinite is almost entirely set in the floating city of Columbia.
- Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure has the story line take place in a realm of numerous floating islands. Some are covered in seas, and some are large.
- Cave Story the entire game takes place on a floating island inhabited by a race of rabbit-like creatures called Mimigas.
- Project Nomads is entirely set on floating islands.
- One of the final levels in Tomb Raider II is located on floating islands.
- NetStorm is centered about floating islands and the fighting between high priests of the three furies.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog games, floating islands help characters advance higher. A location called Angel Island serves as home to Knuckles the Echidna, and in Sonic Adventure, a stage called Windy Valley consists of floating Islands connected by highway systems.
- In Front Mission 3 floating island Ocean City is featured and located nearby Okinawa, Japan.6,7 This island is a collective assembly of smaller parts that can be separated. At the end of the game, one part of this city that contains nuclear bomb is separated and the bomb is intentionally detonated in the Pacific Ocean.
- The story of Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide revolves around the efforts of a medusa-turned-lich named Heurodis to levitate the city of Undrentide.8
- In Chrono Trigger the Kingdom of Zeal was built on floating islands by humans that have mastered the art of Magic.
- Works by the artist Roger Dean depict floating islands, such as those featured on Yes album covers.
- The music video for Feel Good Inc. as well as its sequel, El Mañana, by Gorillaz features one of the band members on a windmill-powered floating island.
- Ancient High Netheril in the Forgotten Realms setting of the Dungeons & Dragons universe contains airborne cities kept aloft by magic.
- Artist Naohisa Inoue often portrays various types of floating islands in his Iblard series of paintings. One type of island, Laputas, hatch from eggs to become the recognizable floating islands.9
- Reggae band Rebelution’s album cover for “Peace of Mind” features a flying island.
Some content in this article is adapted from this article on Wikipedia. It is reproduced here per the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License.
- Homer (2008) [8th century BC]. “10.1”. In Shewring, Walter. The Odyssey.
- Pliny the Elder. “II:209”. Natural History.
- Page, Michael; Ingpen, Robert (1987). Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, and People. New York: Viking Press. p. 191. ISBN 0-670-81607-8.
- Head, Richard (2012) . The Floating Island. Google Books.
- Anders, Charlie Jane (14 January 2010). “Avatar’s Designers Speak: Floating Mountains, AMP Suits And The Dragon”. io9.
- Okinawa Ocean City screenshot
- See the plot summary in the article.
- Naohisa Inoue’s Iblard