Worldbuilding Wednesday 10/2/19: Roller Coasters

The first roller coasters were not called roller coasters at all. They were known as Russian Mountains and were created in Portugal, not Russia, from mounds of ice piled up by Russian refugees from wars of Ivan the Terrible in the 1600s.  To this day, in Spanish-speaking countries, roller coasters are still known as montaña rusas. Later in history, when wheel-and-track roller coasters finally showed up Russia, they were called Amerikanskie gorki, or American mountains. Confused yet?

Take a look at the wooden coaster above. In the early days of coaster building, contractors had no idea about the effects of G-forces on the human body or the stress it put on cars and tracks. Cars tended to fly off and humans receive whiplash and other injuries. Ghoulishly, these only added to a coaster’s popularity back then. The two long curving tracks at the left were no-nos, as was the s-shaped curve at the far right. If they didn’t burn down (a common fate for wooden coasters) they were demolished after safety concerns led to regulation.

Modern roller coasters are hyper-engineered for safety, yet they are also reaching the limits as to what is possible with current engineering. Tempting fate, their names are full of danger: Steel Dragon, Millennium Force, Nemesis, Storm Runner. There’s also a trend towards movie tie-ins, such as Superman: the Escape and Batman: the Ride. IMO these aren’t as evocative and instead render confusion. Who would Superman want to escape from, and why? And though Batman certainly had some heart-pounding pursuits in his batmobile, batcopter, batsled, whatever, what else occurs on his amusement attraction to make it unequivocally his? Does the Joker jump out at random moments? Do batsignals flash in the sky? Without knowing the full itinerary, I’ll stick with Steel Dragon, thank you.

Looking for a coaster? Here’s some randomgenned ones. One or more of them are tongue-in-cheek.

 

Roller Coasters

Maximum Maelstrom

Interbreaker

Midnight Zero

Nitrosonic

Hypergenesis

Into the Abyss

Shogun Dragon

Pele’s Revenge

Magnetar

Mongol Horde

Demon Hunter

Fell Beast

Schizoroarer

Valkyrie Strike

Starspoiler

Killer Expedition

Event Horizon

Pelvic Gouge

 

1 comment

  1. Ivan the Terrible is right. Roller coasters always scared me. Maybe I’m a big baby. But, I’ve tried them several times and always the same experience.

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