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arkady 7
02-20-2016, 03:32 PM
Seems like SFF writers will do literally anything to skirt around dealing with guns in their universe. It's alway "oh, magic scrambles fire arms..."/"gunpowder doesn't ignite in our presence"/"we are a post-13th century historical fantasy world and yet we don't have guns we have cannons if ur lucky sucker"

Why do you think this is? Is it because ranged weapons becomes a great leveler of fighting ability? (You don't need to be 6'2 pounds of hulking muscle, you just need to have training with a gun.) Is it because, like Indiana Jones, guns allow us to just shoot our problems no matter how cool their fighting style is?

Is it because guns are truly the end of chivalry? Is it lazy research, and authors not wanting to deal with different types of guns? Or have you stumbled across stories where authors had good plot reasons for not talking about them?

I recently wrote a whole novel without any mention of gunpowder, despite gunpowder very likely existing given historical context. Just went back and read several books on the history of gunpowder and all the gunpowder-related weaponry that would have existed so I can adjust battle descriptions to take that into account.

Forgive me if I'm bringing up an old SFF writer's topic...if there's an old thread about this someone please link me!

_TOG_
02-20-2016, 04:00 PM
My guess is you probably hit on most of the points.

I don't read fantasy, but science fiction. So, take that for what it is worth.

Lastly, of late (last several decades) in the US firearms are a pretty touchy subject, so many people are sensitive about the issue.

Weirdmage
02-20-2016, 04:53 PM
There's lots of SFF that has guns in it.
Steampunk almost always has guns, and other fancy post-industrial revolution weapons, some of them way more inventive than anything the real world has seen.
Urban Fantasy, and UF/PR quite often has guns. It's certainly not something that is "forbidden" in those genres.
Horror frequently features guns. It's often the way the main characters try to defend themselves from whatever it is that is out to get them.

So, I wouldn't say that "SFF writers will do literally anything to skirt around dealing with guns", because I don't think there's any basis to claim that.
However, guns are rarely very important when they are in works of SFF. The exception their perhaps being Military SF. But then again guns are hardly important in other genres of fiction that is not directly related to military matters either.
To be perfectly honest I don't see the need for guns taking a more prominent place in SFF. If I want to read books were using guns is an integral part of the plot I usually turn to Action Thrillers or Action Adventure books. I suspect enough SFF readers and writers agree with me that they don't look for gunplay in SFF, so it's just not something that is often made a part of it.


Is it lazy research, and authors not wanting to deal with different types of guns?
In my experience, the people who know the least about guns are people in the US who owns, and in some cases fetishize, guns. Granted, they know how to use guns, and maybe how to strip them, but they seem to never read anything about guns and just rely on whatever they have heard from other people as being fact.

One example; A couple of US people were complaining on a friends FB about how The Man in the High Castle series was ruined for them because the Germans used Lugers. One of them even went so far as to claim they had been totally phased out by Rugers by the start of WWII. I already knew that the Germans used Lugers all through WWII. (My Grandfather - I'm Norwegian - got two of them from allied soldiers in the aftermath of WWII.) It took me two minutes on Google to find out that Luger is a US weapons manufacturer that started up in 1947...

The above is not the only case of US people who have personal experience using weapons stating misinformation about guns with great conviction of it making them look like they are knowledgeable. And there seems to always be complaints about any kind of fiction with guns in it from people like that.
So, although I don't think SFF authors necessarily avoid depicting guns because it is not worth the hassle of dealing with the complaints, I would totally support any author who used that as a reason for avoiding guns.

Curlz
02-20-2016, 04:59 PM
Because most fantasy is set in a world modelled after historical times dating from before the widespread use of guns? :Shrug: Another reason is the very young age at which aspiring writers start writing fantasy - an age at which those young people have not yet been exposed enough to the idea of guns and gun use due to the content restrictions of the books/films/tv they are most closely familiar with.

Roxxsmom
02-20-2016, 06:37 PM
If a fantasy takes place in a secondary world, I don't think the fear of portraying guns inaccurately would be a big deal. I've got guns in my fantasy world, but I don't dwell on the different firing mechanisms that exist (it's early modern, so they're somewhere in the equivalent of a doglock to flintlock era), and they only fire once before needing to be reloaded. But my characters aren't thinking too much about the way the weapon someone fired at them works. Looking up details about how antique firearms worked, like how long they took to reload and so on, how far away they could hit, what kinds of wounds they caused, isn't that hard. So I don't think fear of inaccuracy is the issue. It sure doesn't stop people from getting horses and other pre-modern elements wrong.

I think it's because swords, armor, castles, and bows have a "coolness factor," so the stories are set in some nebulous early "pre gunpowder" medieval era, except other elements of the world and culture (like the architecture or way government is run) seem more early modern. It's an established fantasy trope, I think, so most people don't question it too much, or accept a very perfunctory explanation. I'm guessing most of what people like in fantasy is about the tropes and settings they enjoy, not about realism. Of course, swords, armor, crossbows, and even castles, lasted for quite a while after gunpowder weapons first came into use in Europe, though they did evolve during that time period.

And a fantasy world doesn't have to be based on the middle ages or on Europe (medieval or any other era), or on any real-world time and place at all, and non-traditional fantasy settings seem to be what's hot right now (on many agent wish lists and also many of the books that are currently popular).

For instance, there are a number of "gunpowder fantasies" that are popular these days that feel like they're taking place in some 1700s-early 1800s type world, whether it's an alternative version of ours or completely secondary. Also, there are a number set in what feels like the Victorian period, but with magic, that aren't steampunk. I'm guessing the success of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is responsible for this.

engmajor2005
02-20-2016, 06:56 PM
I'm not really seeing this myself.

Most fantasy is set in a world where guns aren't sensible or practical, either due to the presence of magic (why shoot when you can cast fire and lightning?) or because the technology doesn't exist. As Weirdmage points out, however, guns are all over the place in steampunk. Granted, they're usually revolvers or flintlocks, but steampunk is usually set in a Victorian/Old West universe. It imagines technology more advanced than that of the time, but not unbelievably so.

In sci-fi, however, guns are usually all over the place. Space opera usually has at least one swashbuckling rogue and the faceless evil empire (whoever they may be) employs armed foot soldiers, for example. Military SF may not show characters actually engaged in a fire fight, but battles between star ships employ all kinds of ballistics (so it's not unrealistic to believe that personal firearms exist). Sci-fi more concerned with exploration and discovery may or may not have characters who use guns, but the focus of those stories is such that guns would feel out of place; then again, Star Trek had guns and the frequent use of them, and it was supposedly all about exploration, so there you go.

Hapax Legomenon
02-20-2016, 07:33 PM
To be honest I kind of think that when people write "medieval" fantasy they don't... really care that much about historical accuracy. I don't know if a lot of these people really research medieval warfare that much. For a long time gunners and archers coexisted because they were used for different things.

There's also this idea that, when compared to a lot of other inventions that had different versions discovered among disparate groups of people, gunpowder was only discovered once. This may be why writers of alternate histories think they don't have to include it -- they can just say that in that universe, it was never discovered.

AJMarks
02-20-2016, 07:40 PM
You need a reason to invent gunpowder and guns. In one of my fantasy worlds, which could be an equivalent of our modern world, there was no need for guns. Why have them when everyone can use magic? They can shoot a fireball, hurl a rock, shoot an ice shard, etc. I thought about putting guns in, but realized there was no practical sense in having them. I think a person must also, for their universe, understand how guns evolved. They were slow, cumbersome and ineffective at first. If everyone has magical abilities, what advantage do those early guns have? Why would anyone even put time to making them more effective, let alone something like a modern Gatling when you can put your energy into new spells which do as much damage.
I think guns and fantasy become very much world specific. Guns might work well in one universe, but not another.

mpack
02-20-2016, 07:56 PM
Seems like SFF writers will do literally anything to skirt around dealing with guns in their universe. It's alway "oh, magic scrambles fire arms..."/"gunpowder doesn't ignite in our presence"/"we are a post-13th century historical fantasy world and yet we don't have guns we have cannons if ur lucky sucker"

Why do you think this is?

The term SFF is broader than you've used it, but confining the question to epic/high fantasy, I suspect it's the romanticization of a pre-industrial world associated with Tolkien and his many imitators. The taboo has never been quite as strong as you suggest though, and it has eroded further in recent years. Robin Hobb, Anne Lyle, Django Wexler, and Brian McClellan have all written fantasy series that incorporate firearms. Popular fantasy computer games have also depicted black powder weapons, including World of Warcraft, Jade Empire, and Pillars of Eternity. I think the perception was always stronger than the reality though. Early fantasy writers used guns in their stories (Robert Howard's Solomon Kane) and even Tolkien mentions black powder in Middle Earth.

I think a number of factors feed into the myth of the pre-industrial world. The imagery of the Arthurian legendarium is strong in Western culture. The influence of 19th Century British Romanticism also remains in fantasy (Sir Walter Scott, the Pre-Raphaelites, etc.) When that powerful imagery blended with the common periodization of history in a timeless era, the idea of high fantasy became somewhat fixed in the mind.

A lot of popular culture associates the Medieval era with Arthur, Robin Hood, maybe the Crusades in a very general way. It has a certain pre-modern innocence if viewed through that Romantic lens, and gunpowder isn't the only period appropriate tech most fantasy strips out. How many windmills show up in high fantasy novels? Mechanical clocks? Spectacles? Water hammers? All existed prior to the widespread use of plate armour, but...high fantasy isn't about historical coherence. It's about myth and imagery. That myth struggles to exclude the trappings of industry.

As high fantasy writers explore other cultures, other time frames, and other ways of depicting myth, I think the stigma will break down further.

I hope so at least; my current high fantasy WiP incorporates a number of industrial technologies, including firearms.

Brian G Turner
02-20-2016, 07:59 PM
Is it because guns are truly the end of chivalry?

I think this is a big part of it - that fantasy is still ultimately rooted in chivalric romances. The rise of gunpowder forces the decline of the knight. Also, as mentioned above, magic effectively eliminates the need for gunpowder.

There are some great fantasy writers who take fantasy very much into the age of gunpowder and away from knights in shining armour. Brian McClellan's Powder Mage trilogy does a superb job with touching upon the Napoleonic.

Dennis E. Taylor
02-20-2016, 08:11 PM
Meh. There are guns in both of my novels, but they're not integral to the plot. Except to the extent that "MC doesn't get eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger because he shoots it."

Latina Bunny
02-20-2016, 08:28 PM
Seems like SFF writers will do literally anything to skirt around dealing with guns in their universe. It's alway "oh, magic scrambles fire arms..."/"gunpowder doesn't ignite in our presence"/"we are a post-13th century historical fantasy world and yet we don't have guns we have cannons if ur lucky sucker"

Why do you think this is? Is it because ranged weapons becomes a great leveler of fighting ability? (You don't need to be 6'2 pounds of hulking muscle, you just need to have training with a gun.) Is it because, like Indiana Jones, guns allow us to just shoot our problems no matter how cool their fighting style is?

Is it because guns are truly the end of chivalry? Is it lazy research, and authors not wanting to deal with different types of guns? Or have you stumbled across stories where authors had good plot reasons for not talking about them?


Um...I would think some magic/super powers would make guns kind of useless in some situations, lol. (Like metal melting or magnetic powers or bullet proof shields/skin, etc...)

For me, as a reader and writer...? Well, I don't like guns and American gun culture in real life, so I would sometimes like to escape to worlds or plots that don't involve a lot of guns. (I watch an occasional spy/action movie with guns, or a mystery or police procedural where some murders have been committed with guns, but I usually don't watch or read a lot of stories where guns are constantly in use or in a positive light.)

When it comes to "medieval"-ish or countryside/village or fairy tale fantasy settings, I feel like too much focus on guns (or too much tech) would sometimes kind of kill the romantic aspects of such settings.

Btw: I don't think "romanticization" (or whatever it's called) is a problem; it's merely a taste preference thing, imo.

And, sometimes guns don't have a purpose in the plot, so the guns may not even be mentioned. Or maybe a protagonist could be gun-averse, like Batman, etc...

ETA: I read more gentler, light hearted, less violent or epic stuff, so guns are not usually in use, unless someone's murdered with it in a more contemporary or historical mystery/police procedural plot.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-20-2016, 08:37 PM
I mean, I guess Harry Potter avoids the issue because guns could level the playing-field too much, for example. Along with many other more modern inventions. But aside from that kind of thing, I don't actually see a ton of published material with this issue. I think several previous posters have made good points as to why a world that from an earth history perspective might have gunpowder doesn't. Although, gunpowder was invented during the alchemical search for the Elixir of Immortality or somesuch. So it's not totally wild that it might exist.

I think one point about magic rendering guns/tech useless though has a bit of hypocrisy in it, though. Why have archers? Why have swords? Why have armor? Or horses? In a lot of cases, those would be even more outmoded by magic, I'd argue. Even if you specifically design your magic system as a type of mana artillery role, it's still a bit odd.

NRoach
02-20-2016, 08:44 PM
Guns mark the transition into steampunk, an aesthetic that I loathe, which is why they're firmly and absolutely absent from any fantasy I might write. I have made use of cannons, but actual hand-held pistols and the like? Urgh.

engmajor2005
02-20-2016, 08:49 PM
I think one point about magic rendering guns/tech useless though has a bit of hypocrisy in it, though. Why have archers? Why have swords? Why have armor? Or horses? In a lot of cases, those would be even more outmoded by magic, I'd argue. Even if you specifically design your magic system as a type of mana artillery role, it's still a bit odd.

This is a good point, now that you mention. The way I see it is that magic just replaced firearms in the evolution of weapons, and with them came their own limitations.

It's a given in most fantasy works that not everyone is able to use magic, so those that can't still use other weapons. Because some people still use other weapons that stab and cut, you still wear armor.

Magic might also not be appropriate for every situation. For example, casting might take immense focus and/or time, and in the interim a swordsman could have eviscerated the target or an archer could have put three arrows in them. So if speed and maneuverability are a priority, traditional arms are best. What happens if a magic user is somehow unable to use magic, or the party's magic user is incapacitated?

Our military and law enforcement are still taught hand-to-hand combat and how to employ a variety of weapons, despite an M4 rifle being just fine for just about every situation. There are also weapons specialist who serve very specific roles in combat (snipers, for example). So it makes sense that, even in a fantasy setting, you have a variety of ways to make people not alive*, even if magic is the best way to do that.

*Or heals them, for that matter.

Latina Bunny
02-20-2016, 08:52 PM
I think one point about magic rendering guns/tech useless though has a bit of hypocrisy in it, though. Why have archers? Why have swords? Why have armor? Or horses? In a lot of cases, those would be even more outmoded by magic, I'd argue. Even if you specifically design your magic system as a type of mana artillery role, it's still a bit odd.

Well, on the armor front, if one looks at certain types of fantasy art and video games--the ones with the really skimpy armor or just clothing with no armor, it feels like some people are thinking the same thing, lol! XD

Maybe some enemies have metal-bending/metal-manipulating/magnetic powers, like Magneto from X-Men or metal benders from The Last Avatar/Legend of Korra, so sometimes you have to use alternatives?

It's more of the romanticism, I think. That's my main reason. For me, sometimes I would like to escape from gun culture or the baggage that comes with guns, once in a while, in some of my SFF stuff...

ETA: Plus, aesthetically, the "dancing" sword/non-gun fighting looks prettier than someone just standing and shooting. *is shallow* :P

CL Polk
02-20-2016, 09:28 PM
If you want guns in your fantasy, include them.

If you don't, don't.

You're the one in control. you build the world. you decide the technology and the social trends.

In the fantasy novel I wrote, the world had electricity and telephones, but cars were *so* expensive only the mega rich could afford one, and even then they weren't popular because of (spoiler.)

Most people travel by the urban commuter trains or else by bicycle. Horse drawn vehicles are still in use, but the bicycle is king of the road.

That world also has heavy gun control. only royal guards and on duty soldiers have any reason to have them. the police don't. the citizens don't. possession of a firearm when you're neither of those things is a major crime. if you want to shoot somebody you're stuck with archery.

MurderOfCrows
02-20-2016, 10:18 PM
So there's a whole catergory of fantasy that includes guns! Flintlock Fantasy ala Brian McClellan's Powder Mage trilogy literally has magic based around guns and their use. Larry Correia's GrimNoir is 1920s pulp fantasy with guns.

Basically the issue is not chivalry, it's not tech, it's guns makes anyone capable of killing a threatP You can teach a man to use a gun far easier than you can do so to use a sword. Point, aim, trigger pull. It doesn't require the arm strength a bowman needs, and you can kill from a distance. It makes peasant uprisings all the more threatening, or it keeps power in the hands of dictators. Guns are a huge power imbalance factor because anyone can pick up and use one and be semi-proficient with ease which cannot be said of nearly any other weapon, and they have the bonus of killing at a distance.

So why bother with magic study if peasant farmer John can just pick up a gun and shoot Lord Zappo before he finishes his incantation? Why hasn't a long-barreled rifle put a hole in Lord Farquad after he exerts his "right" of Prima Nocte with the wrong soldier's wife? Fat lot his knights are going to do against a sniper, etc. So on and so on.

So, yeah. Fantasy that has different focus means guns either have to be woven very carefully into the setting, or removed entirely to preserve balance and realism.

Hapax Legomenon
02-20-2016, 10:37 PM
Basically the issue is not chivalry, it's not tech, it's guns makes anyone capable of killing a threatP You can teach a man to use a gun far easier than you can do so to use a sword. Point, aim, trigger pull. It doesn't require the arm strength a bowman needs, and you can kill from a distance. It makes peasant uprisings all the more threatening, or it keeps power in the hands of dictators. Guns are a huge power imbalance factor because anyone can pick up and use one and be semi-proficient with ease which cannot be said of nearly any other weapon, and they have the bonus of killing at a distance.

So why bother with magic study if peasant farmer John can just pick up a gun and shoot Lord Zappo before he finishes his incantation? Why hasn't a long-barreled rifle put a hole in Lord Farquad after he exerts his "right" of Prima Nocte with the wrong soldier's wife? Fat lot his knights are going to do against a sniper, etc. So on and so on.

So, yeah. Fantasy that has different focus means guns either have to be woven very carefully into the setting, or removed entirely to preserve balance and realism.

Just as magic might make guns useless, guns aren't magic. Why doesn't the peasant shoot Lord Zappo? A gun is likely to be far, far more expensive than a peasant can own. Why hasn't the soldier shot Lord Farquad? It might be that Prima Nocte is socially acceptable or at least tolerated so he didn't really think to do it. Even if it isn't, it's kind of like asking "why didn't you shoot the cop?" Shoot the cop? are you crazy?

Even if they could make guns back then were accurate enough to be sniper rifles (hint-- they weren't), we can ask the question about any given person in power today. Yes, government officials have been killed by snipers. Civilians have been killed by snipers for no good reason, too. Kids get killed by other kids who bring guns to school. Yes, it happens a lot more often than people would like but these are still actually rare occurrences. The fact is that most normal people just don't think that way. Yes, fiction does like to focus on unusual circumstances, but I think that if you have a medieval fantasy world where guns exist, you don't really have to ask yourself why nobody's just shot the corrupt lord yet. That someone will automatically use a gun to solve any problem they have in a society where guns exist or are even plentiful is not a given.

MurderOfCrows
02-20-2016, 10:45 PM
Just as magic might make guns useless, guns aren't magic. Why doesn't the peasant shoot Lord Zappo? A gun is likely to be far, far more expensive than a peasant can own. Why hasn't the soldier shot Lord Farquad? It might be that Prima Nocte is socially acceptable or at least tolerated so he didn't really think to do it. Even if it isn't, it's kind of like asking "why didn't you shoot the cop?" Shoot the cop? are you crazy?

Even if they could make guns back then were accurate enough to be sniper rifles (hint-- they weren't), we can ask the question about any given person in power today. Yes, government officials have been killed by snipers. Civilians have been killed by snipers for no good reason, too. Kids get killed by other kids who bring guns to school. Yes, it happens a lot more often than people would like but these are still actually rare occurrences. The fact is that most normal people just don't think that way. Yes, fiction does like to focus on unusual circumstances, but I think that if you have a medieval fantasy world where guns exist, you don't really have to ask yourself why nobody's just shot the corrupt lord yet. That someone will automatically use a gun to solve any problem they have in a society where guns exist or are even plentiful is not a given.

And again, that's why we have to have balance -- does expense keep guns out of the hands of peasants, but wild talent magic simply spring up, making it more accessible? Does the soldier, who no longer cares about societal constraints after his wife's been raped, have trouble getting a gun out of the strict control of the armory because they're rare weapons and thus well guarded? So on and so forth.

It's all part of worldbuilding - you need to find out where the best balance is.

AJMarks
02-20-2016, 10:50 PM
I think you must ask, why would there be a reason to invent a gun in a fantasy world. Do you're non-magic folks need an equalizer, or can you think of something better for your universe? Would the people of your universe even consider making such a weapon? (Remember, it took centuries to get the gun where it is now, not a few decades).
I actually find it out of context for people to have guns when everyone has magical abilities. Someone above mentioned Harry Potter, you don't see guns because there are spells which are far more effective for combat and fighting.

Hapax Legomenon
02-20-2016, 10:54 PM
Wizards in Harry Potter don't have guns because they're totally out of touch with the muggle world. Heck, they don't even have ballpoint pens.

Helix
02-21-2016, 02:31 AM
Wizards in Harry Potter don't have guns because they're totally out of touch with the muggle world. Heck, they don't even have ballpoint pens.

Also it's British, so guns aren't that much of A Thing.

King Neptune
02-21-2016, 03:54 AM
Also it's British, so guns aren't that much of A Thing.

Now, but they were very common in Britain until the 1930's.

King Neptune
02-21-2016, 04:03 AM
The knowledge and techniques necessary to make firearms has bee around for a rather long time, but the knowledge was split between smiths and magicians or alchemists. A low power cannon of a sort would have been possible more than 2000 years ago. While gunpowder wasn't known, the ingredients were known and available. With a little experimentation a useful mixture could have been found. A welded iron tube cased in wood with iron fittings could have been made; it is no more complicated than a good axle, just larger. The knowledge existed for about a thousand years before it was used. For purposes of fiction there is no reason why ab author can't put firearm into that period.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-21-2016, 05:50 AM
I think you must ask, why would there be a reason to invent a gun in a fantasy world. Do you're non-magic folks need an equalizer, or can you think of something better for your universe? Would the people of your universe even consider making such a weapon? (Remember, it took centuries to get the gun where it is now, not a few decades).
I actually find it out of context for people to have guns when everyone has magical abilities. Someone above mentioned Harry Potter, you don't see guns because there are spells which are far more effective for combat and fighting.


Wizards in Harry Potter don't have guns because they're totally out of touch with the muggle world. Heck, they don't even have ballpoint pens.


Also it's British, so guns aren't that much of A Thing.


Now, but they were very common in Britain until the 1930's.

Guns are far more efficient than spells in Harry Potter. By far. But tech doesn't work around magic. I think they specifically mention this point in the books. The killing curse or Incendio are horribly inefficient compared to guns--in the time they would take to cast, you could kill tons of people.

Helix
02-21-2016, 05:56 AM
Now, but they were very common in Britain until the 1930's.

And that would certainly be a salient point had Harry Potter been written in the 1930s for a 1930s audience.

arkady 7
02-21-2016, 06:19 AM
Yeah, you guys are right- was definitely overly broad in my characterization of SFF.

I'll be honest- I didn't include guns in my worldbuilding initially because I just didn't know jack shit about guns and was intimidated of the research involved. Didn't have a clue about the difference between a pistol and a revolver! Terrified that people with basic gun backgrounds would call me out on my bullshit, so I opted for a fantasy world where guns had not been invented yet.

Did some basic research into gunpowder, though, and it turns out that's been around far longer than I thought! There is a lot of wiggle room, too, between having gunpowder and having working, accurate guns. All sorts of cool pyrotechnics in between- fireworks, rockets, fire lances, bombs - that my armies can work with even if they haven't got guns. I've been reading entire books about this stuff and it's so fascinating, I almost forget that I'm procrastinating with my word count.

Helix
02-21-2016, 06:30 AM
The Discworld has a Gonne (http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/Gonne). Just the one.

Roxxsmom
02-21-2016, 06:49 AM
I'm not really seeing this myself.

Most fantasy is set in a world where guns aren't sensible or practical, either due to the presence of magic (why shoot when you can cast fire and lightning?)

Because magic is usually presented as something with limits and something only a rare few can do? Also, there's no reason magic can't be involved in the creation or improvement of firearms (the writer gets to create the rules and limitations here, of course). In one part of a novel I'm writing, I make reference to an attempt to come up with a "crystal lock" mechanism for igniting gunpowder that jams less that the flintlocks, wheellocks, and doglock type designs that are currently being used.

I've run across a fair amount of pre-modern era fantasy that has guns, cannons and so on. There's even a genre called flintlock fantasy or gunpowder fantasy for stories that have that swashbuckling to 1700s era vibe. Sometimes the guns are in the background in the world, sometimes (as in McClellan's books), the magic is more intimately tied with guns and gunpowder.

Django Wexler's books
Brian McClellan's books
Naomi Novak's Temairaire books (and her Uprooted novel that came out last year has cannons)
Brent Week's Lightbringer books
Sanderson's Alloy of Law books
Robin Hobb's Soldier's Son books
Stina Leicht's Cold Iron
Knight's Fade to Black books (magic-powered guns) and her new trilogy is set in a swashbuckling world with guns and rapiers (and magic)
Scott Lynch's books had gunpowder weapons if I remember correctly
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel (guns aren't a focus but they exist in that 1800s-feeling world)
Zho's Sorcerer to the Crown takes place in a world with that 1800s vibe, but it's also not steampunk.


As Weirdmage points out, however, guns are all over the place in steampunk. Granted, they're usually revolvers or flintlocks, but steampunk is usually set in a Victorian/Old West universe. It imagines technology more advanced than that of the time, but not unbelievably so.

Yes, and steampunk has a distinct aesthetic of its own. It takes the imaginings of the SF writers of that era and projects them, so they have steam-driven computers and airships, automatons, airships and so on. Sometimes there's magic and sometimes it's more about the technology. I don't know about the realism. It kind of depends. A steam powered supercomputer or rocket ship is pretty hard to believe without some magic behind it.

But it's not the only pre-modern fantasy with guns.

I think the inclusion of guns and magic side by side creates new ripples and implications that it makes sense to explore, and it's increasingly popular to do so. You get to make up the rules and limitations that each have. There can be ways for magic to get around guns, and there can be ways for guns to get around magic. A sort of cyclical "arm's race" of adaptations and improvements to each in an attempt to offset the advantages seems very plausible to me.

The thing with fantasy, I think, is it's become such a broad genre that people don't always know the names of popular authors and books outside their immediate reading interest. For many fantasy fans, the appeal lies in a particular aesthetic or style, and people who've been fans for years often have favorite authors whom they read and reread over and over and are unaware of, or even resistant to, newer stars in the genre.

lenore_x
02-21-2016, 07:21 AM
My fantasy world ostensibly has guns, but I haven't had a reason to include them in a story. My understanding is that early guns weren't that great; during the time period my world is roughly analogous to, swords would have been more precise and easier to train soldiers to use.


You need a reason to invent gunpowder and guns.

Gunpowder was invented by accident, heh. By someone trying to create an immortality elixir. :)


An interesting case, I recently read THE GR@CE 0F KINGS, and they have fireworks but not guns, and the powder that makes fireworks go is just called "firework powder." That book didn't clearly align, technology wise, with a certain real-world time period. Seems to be a deliberate choice on the part of the author not to include guns, and who knows why.

mpack
02-21-2016, 07:52 AM
I think you must ask, why would there be a reason to invent a gun in a fantasy world.

I would expect for the same reasons the longbow, arbalest, and trebuchet were invented. To project destructive power at a great range.


I actually find it out of context for people to have guns when everyone has magical abilities.

If the world you're working in has magic that common, I would agree it would raise a number of questions about the progress of technology. I don't have experience reading fantasy with quite that high a magic level. I'm more familiar with magic as a rare trait or a difficult to learn skillset. In either of those cases, or in very low magic worlds, developing any particular technology (whether guns or waterwheels) may make just as much sense as it did in the historical contexts.

jjdebenedictis
02-21-2016, 08:24 AM
I think it's for the same reason that, when there are characters in a story who are immortal, the author just about always gives a reason why they can't have children.

It's because it opens up too large a can of worms in terms of the repercussions of that particular bit of world-building. Guns and magic? How's that going to work? What happens to the world? Immortal and having babies at a normal rate? How's that going to work? What happens to the world?

Either the story has to be about that -- about the repercussions of that one authorial decision -- or the writer has to side-step it entirely by hand-waving the problem away.

So in a way, the gun problem is a potential plot hijacker. If a complication has a scope so large it will dwarf the smaller plot complications the writer wanted to focus on, then the author must be ruthless in leaving it out.

Hapax Legomenon
02-21-2016, 08:47 AM
Also it's British, so guns aren't that much of A Thing.

I guess so.

The thing that completely baffled me most about Harry Potter is that they apparently shun all modern muggle inventions yet they still seem to have modern plumbing. Like I know that modern plumbing is totally great and all, and water pipes were used in ancient Rome, but having modern toilets just seems terribly anachronistic? Like it seems like if you wanted a medieval-castle-like magic solution it seems like you'd have gaderobes with portals to the poop dimension in the bottom or something. But... this has nothing to do with guns.

PeteMC
02-21-2016, 06:31 PM
It's there more than you think - Tolkien had black powder, fireworks and the Fire of Mordor which was some sort of blasting powder IIRC.

Joe Abercombie has cannon being invented in his series, as did Robert Jordan. Black powder weapons didn't become M4 rifles overnight, after all, and even muskets co-existed with swords for a good long time.

Guns don't even have to be based on gunpowder - Julia Knight has *clockwork* guns in her Duellists series, mad as that sounds, but she makes it work.

benbenberi
02-21-2016, 11:32 PM
Gunpowder was invented in China and used there for many centuries for fireworks and decorative rockets without guns ever being imagined. Pretty much as soon as gunpowder arrived in Europe (13c), the first thing people started thinking was, wow this is cool I wonder how we can use it to kill people? and they quickly set about inventing guns.

Guns were not terribly useful at first, though. The first cannons were enormous, weak, and prone to catastrophic self-destruction. It took several centuries -- during which we also see the flowering of late-medieval "chivalry" so beloved by traditional fantasy -- till the metallurgy and technology evolved to support cannons that could be used reliably in battle. Field guns demonstrated their disruptive value for the first time in the decisive French campaigns that ended the Hundred Years War (1450s). Hand-guns started to appear at that time too, basically miniaturized portable hand-cannons at first -- and again it took several centuries for the technology to mature and tactics to evolve till they became practical on a large scale. Muskets did not replace pikes as the core weapon of infantry till the last years of the Thirty Years War (1640s).

As for guns vs. magic, a lot depends on how the magic is set up. The biggest advantage of handguns over longbows & crossbows, the main range weapons of the pre-musket era, is that it took almost no training to turn a random civilian into a musket-using soldier, while crossbows took a lot of training and longbows a lifetime of preparation. Plus the bulk manufacture of muskets and musket balls was ridiculously simple -- you didn't get tremendously high-quality results, but you got usable weapons that didn't have to be particularly accurate individually to be devastating en masse.

What we think of as handguns is an even more recent development. Pistols - smaller versions of the musket - were originally used by cavalry instead of the old-fashioned lances etc, for pretty much the same reason: you got to let off one good blast from the pistol as you charged, 2 if you had a pair, and then it was classic swords from horseback because you couldn't reload in the middle of the fight. Because pistols were portable and came in pairs, they were also popular for duels. Over time, they grew smaller & more concealable, but it wasn't till the 19c invention of the revolver that they gained a modern range of applications.

Roxxsmom
02-22-2016, 12:13 AM
The idea that it didn't occur to the Chinese to use gunpowder in weapons until they encountered westerners doing so is what I was taught in school, but hasn't that idea come under fire recently?

I remember reading somewhere that the use of gunpowder as a weapon started earlier in China than is popularly assumed in the west. They started by putting it in tubes (often made of bamboo) and firing arrows and other projectiles, or using it in bombs, rockets, and mines against the Mongols by the 12th century (https://books.google.com/books?id=ZH4djO40N6wC&pg=PT26&lpg=PT26&dq=the+oldest+gunpowder+weapons&source=bl&ots=PDdVKz1uhq&sig=iGsVtlWeuDtu5ePo2eoYKz1lOXo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-7diY1InLAhVBXGMKHUyyBJ04ChDoAQhIMAc#v=onepage&q=the%20oldest%20gunpowder%20weapons&f=false). More modern style firearms appeared there by the 13th century, and by the 14th century, they were an important part of their military (25-30% of their troops equipped with firearms).

http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/history/the-earliest-gunpowder-weapons-in-history

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huolongjing

http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-07/21/content_70826_2.htm

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/review-the-gunpowder-age-tonio-andrade-princeton-university-press

I'm not a historian, though, and I know there are issues with some of the accounts that make claims about usage as early as the tenth century BCE being from histories that were written at a later time in China.

lenore_x
02-22-2016, 12:54 AM
Yup. Europeans do have a knack for claiming stuff they weren't really the first to discover. ;)

snafu1056
02-22-2016, 06:10 AM
Yeah, gunpowder weapons became standard military equipment for the Chinese starting around the 11th century AD (although tinkering with gunpowder weapons started much earlier). And while it's true they didn't invent guns as we now know them today (I think that's where the confusion comes in about who invented what), they certainly got the ball rolling with proto-rifles, proto-cannons, flamethrowers, rockets, grenades, poison gas bombs, landmines, exploding arrows, rocket arrows, grenade launchers, and primitive tanks. These weapons are all well documented in military manuals of the period. In fact the first military manual dealing exclusively with fire and gunpowder weapons (or at least the first one we know about) was written in the 14th century.

And of course the Chinese, being the Chinese, gave these weapons names like:

Poison dragon magically efficient fire-spurting tube
Orifices-penetrating flying sand magic mist tube
Vast-as-heaven enemy-exterminating yin-yang shovel
Poison fog magic smoke eruptor
Wasps-nest of lead pellets
Bone-crushing & bruising fire oil bomb
Ingenious mobile ever-victorious poison-fire rack

Smiling Ted
02-22-2016, 06:43 AM
This video on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjeYe7w7zxs) will give you some idea why the gun isn't a story issue for any pre-19th Century technology. An archer, a crossbowman, or a gutsy, sneaky guy with a knife was much more likely to kill you than the other way around. Even more so if your opponent is some magical, wizardly, or were-y kind of being.

As for science fiction, I've read plenty of SF chockfull of gun-equivalents (guns themselves, lasers, "phasers," "blasters," high-energy particle weapons, etc.) But there are whole areas of SF where guns are simply beside the point, and I like those even more.

Roxxsmom
02-22-2016, 08:23 AM
Yeah, gunpowder weapons became standard military equipment for the Chinese starting around the 11th century AD (although tinkering with gunpowder weapons started much earlier). And while it's true they didn't invent guns as we now know them today (I think that's where the confusion comes in about who invented what), they certainly got the ball rolling with proto-rifles, proto-cannons, flamethrowers, rockets, grenades, poison gas bombs, landmines, exploding arrows, rocket arrows, grenade launchers, and primitive tanks. These weapons are all well documented in military manuals of the period. In fact the first military manual dealing exclusively with fire and gunpowder weapons (or at least the first one we know about) was written in the 14th century.

And of course the Chinese, being the Chinese, gave these weapons names like:

Poison dragon magically efficient fire-spurting tube
Orifices-penetrating flying sand magic mist tube
Vast-as-heaven enemy-exterminating yin-yang shovel
Poison fog magic smoke eruptor
Wasps-nest of lead pellets
Bone-crushing & bruising fire oil bomb
Ingenious mobile ever-victorious poison-fire rack

Also, don't forget the flaming cattle of doom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tian_Dan) (not what they called the tactic, I don't think, but they should have)!

snafu1056
02-22-2016, 08:33 AM
No one expects the flaming cattle of doom!

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y67/snafu1056/ox2_zpsevwr842f.jpg

jjdebenedictis
02-22-2016, 09:10 AM
There is a book called Apocalypse Cow (which was an admixture of good and bad; I got some enjoyment from it, but I'm not sure I recommend it) that featured a stampede of zombie cows. That were on fire.

That was the scene I got the most enjoyment out of.

Roxxsmom
02-22-2016, 09:45 AM
No one expects the flaming cattle of doom!

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y67/snafu1056/ox2_zpsevwr842f.jpg

That's the picture I was looking for! Seriously, it's hard to imagine a human culture that doesn't find a way to weaponize every discovery they come up with. Unless truly peaceful humans and the ripples created by that difference in our nature was the focus of a speculative story in of itself.

lenore_x
02-22-2016, 09:47 AM
This suddenly became my favorite thread.

Roxxsmom
02-22-2016, 10:11 AM
Now I'm thinking of this cartoon...

http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/rapidcityjournal.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/9c/d9cb51c9-8bee-5eb1-9f20-0ee9fed92f38/d9cb51c9-8bee-5eb1-9f20-0ee9fed92f38.preview-300.jpg

snafu1056
02-22-2016, 11:34 AM
That's the picture I was looking for! Seriously, it's hard to imagine a human culture that doesn't find a way to weaponize every discovery they come up with. Unless truly peaceful humans and the ripples created by that difference in our nature was the focus of a speculative story in of itself.

It gets worse. You don't even want to know about the goats

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y67/snafu1056/goats_zpsdzzjplxi.jpg

Roxxsmom
02-22-2016, 11:36 AM
What about the cats?

http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j302/Roxxsmom/518146996_c_o_zpsz0pnfvcc.jpg

NRoach
02-22-2016, 12:23 PM
Yeah, gunpowder weapons became standard military equipment for the Chinese starting around the 11th century AD (although tinkering with gunpowder weapons started much earlier). And while it's true they didn't invent guns as we now know them today (I think that's where the confusion comes in about who invented what), they certainly got the ball rolling with proto-rifles, proto-cannons, flamethrowers, rockets, grenades, poison gas bombs, landmines, exploding arrows, rocket arrows, grenade launchers, and primitive tanks. These weapons are all well documented in military manuals of the period. In fact the first military manual dealing exclusively with fire and gunpowder weapons (or at least the first one we know about) was written in the 14th century.

And of course the Chinese, being the Chinese, gave these weapons names like:

Poison dragon magically efficient fire-spurting tube
Orifices-penetrating flying sand magic mist tube
Vast-as-heaven enemy-exterminating yin-yang shovel
Poison fog magic smoke eruptor
Wasps-nest of lead pellets
Bone-crushing & bruising fire oil bomb
Ingenious mobile ever-victorious poison-fire rack

Those names are possibly the most amazing thing I've ever read.

snafu1056
02-22-2016, 06:39 PM
What about the cats?

http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j302/Roxxsmom/518146996_c_o_zpsz0pnfvcc.jpg

Good ideas spread fast

engmajor2005
02-22-2016, 06:41 PM
I'll be honest- I didn't include guns in my worldbuilding initially because I just didn't know jack shit about guns and was intimidated of the research involved. Didn't have a clue about the difference between a pistol and a revolver! Terrified that people with basic gun backgrounds would call me out on my bullshit, so I opted for a fantasy world where guns had not been invented yet.


That was actually a good call. Yes, gun enthusiasts are some of the most nitpicky nitpickers on the planet (evidence: I'm a gun enthusiast) and will completely remove themselves from a piece of fiction if the guns in it function improperly (evidence: me watching every movie where a suppressor is used).

However, take comfort in the fact that you don't need to get that detailed about guns in your book; it's enough to know that they need to be reloaded from time to time, and the character reloading their weapon can be a great source of tension. Now, I will say that even if the only think you tell us about the character's gun is "a gun," it's a good idea to know what type of gun they're using for your own reference, so you'll get an idea of how to write the shootout or action scene where they use it. You don't necessarily need to relay this to the reader; for example, I know that my MC carries a Colt Single Action Army revolver and a Winchester '76 rifle with a 26 in. barrel, but the only thing the reader knows is that he carries a pistol and a rifle. However, knowing the limitations of these weapons means that I can write more believable scenes around them.

Or, just throw out the rules of physics and roll with it. It's fantasy. Happens all the time. :)


Because magic is usually presented as something with limits and something only a rare few can do? Also, there's no reason magic can't be involved in the creation or improvement of firearms (the writer gets to create the rules and limitations here, of course). In one part of a novel I'm writing, I make reference to an attempt to come up with a "crystal lock" mechanism for igniting gunpowder that jams less that the flintlocks, wheellocks, and doglock type designs that are currently being used.

It's funny because I said pretty much the same thing about melee weapons and bows still in use in a world with magic!

I would also add that quick draw showdowns are much more tense and exciting with guns than with magic.

I mean, "take ten steps and cast" just doesn't have the same ring as "take ten steps and draw." :)

snafu1056
02-22-2016, 06:43 PM
Those names are possibly the most amazing thing I've ever read.

The list goes on!

The awe-inspiring fierce-fire Demon tube
The winged tiger tube
Magic mechanism ever-conquering fire dragon halberd
Heaven-rumbling thunderclap fierce fire eruptor
Flying-sand magic bomb releasing 10,000 fires
Magic-fire meteoric bomb that goes against the wind

Layla Nahar
02-22-2016, 06:58 PM
Myself, I just love swordfighting stories. I also like to play with the 'historicity' of the setting - that is, to include things that seem modern, so I need some good reasons why people use swords instead of guns.

PeteMC
02-22-2016, 07:55 PM
That was actually a good call. Yes, gun enthusiasts are some of the most nitpicky nitpickers on the planet (evidence: I'm a gun enthusiast) and will completely remove themselves from a piece of fiction if the guns in it function improperly (evidence: me watching every movie where a suppressor is used).


You mean those movie "silencers" that turn a gunshot into a polite little "pfut" noise? Bonus points if it's fitted to a revolver!

MurderOfCrows
02-22-2016, 08:08 PM
For those who are going over flaming animals: Please remember we had exploding anti-tank dogs in the World Wars. Sure, they saved lives, but... it didn't end well for the dog. :(

But, as creative uses for gunpowder go, getting rapidly under a tank and blowing it up? Well, that's one way to do it.


http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/12/03/article-2517413-19CE2A7A00000578-990_634x558.jpg

engmajor2005
02-22-2016, 08:20 PM
You mean those movie "silencers" that turn a gunshot into a polite little "pfut" noise? Bonus points if it's fitted to a revolver!

THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I tried to demonstrate to a friend of mine who knows next to nothing about guns why this frustrates me. I picked up a big book and a stapler. I said, "This what a gun shot sounds like." I pressed the stapler and dropped the book. I then said, "This is what a suppressed gun shot sounds like." I pressed the stapler and kicked the book.

It made complete sense to her, so why does this not make complete sense to Hollywood executives?

Guns aren't terribly complex machines. It's not like you need to have a doctorate in engineering to get that "when metal moves against metal, it makes noise."

AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!

Maybe I shouldn't have had that seventh cup of coffee.

PeteMC
02-22-2016, 08:24 PM
LOL aaaaaaand breathe.... :greenie

I'm not a gun expert by any means but you should hear me rant at martial arts in films...!

engmajor2005
02-22-2016, 08:28 PM
LOL aaaaaaand breathe.... :greenie

I'm not a gun expert by any means but you should hear me rant at martial arts in films...!

HA! I bet you're going to tell me that most fights between real martial artists are fast and brutal and don't involve kicking off walls and lots of backflips and posing and stuff.

PeteMC
02-22-2016, 08:30 PM
HA! I bet you're going to tell me that most fights between real martial artists are fast and brutal and don't involve kicking off walls and lots of backflips and posing and stuff.

What would be the odds... ;)

Twick
02-22-2016, 08:34 PM
For those who are going over flaming animals: Please remember we had exploding anti-tank dogs in the World Wars. Sure, they saved lives, but... it didn't end well for the dog. :(

But, as creative uses for gunpowder go, getting rapidly under a tank and blowing it up? Well, that's one way to do it.




Were those the ones developed by the Russians? And didn't the first bunch fail because they'd been trained to associate food with tanks? Using Russian tanks? Not German ones?

PeteMC
02-22-2016, 08:36 PM
Were those the ones developed by the Russians? And didn't the first bunch fail because they'd been trained to associate food with tanks? Using Russian tanks? Not German ones?

I've heard that story too but I don't know if it's a myth or not. It sort of *ought* to be true even if it isn't, if you know what I mean.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-22-2016, 08:41 PM
I mean, to be fair, the Romans and Greeks had flaming pigs to stop elephants way before gunpowder. The Chinese are copy-pigs!


At least the dogs goes quick?

snafu1056
02-22-2016, 10:09 PM
I mean, to be fair, the Romans and Greeks had flaming pigs to stop elephants way before gunpowder. The Chinese are copy-pigs!


For sure. The Greeks were the grandaddies of weaponized fire. And a little later the Byzantines invented flamethrowers, which Chinese flamethrowers were based on. Some fire-weapons like "Greek Fire" were used by the Arabs during the Crusades too.

AJMarks
02-23-2016, 12:01 AM
I think guns and their development are individual to each fantasy world. You cannot make a blanket statement for guns in fantasy and have it apply to them all.

Roxxsmom
02-23-2016, 12:03 AM
For those who are going over flaming animals: Please remember we had exploding anti-tank dogs in the World Wars. Sure, they saved lives, but... it didn't end well for the dog. :( ]

Yeah, I remember reading that the Russians used those. Honestly, animals in warfare make me sad, especially if they're used with the expectation that they'll die. I can't imagine spending months working with and training an animal only to send it off to certain death. It would feel like the ultimate betrayal of trust. With human suicide troops, at least they know what they're getting themselves into (though that's very disturbing too).

I remember reading somewhere that the anti-tank dogs sometimes ran to the wrong tanks if they got confused, which didn't end well for anyone at that point.

Oh, there was also the suspended pigeon-guided missiles project. They pulled the plug on this before any pigeons were blown to smithereens, though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIbZB6rNLZ4

AJMarks
02-23-2016, 12:19 AM
The US was also trying to develop a bat bomb to drop on Japan in WW2. Weapon invention is littered with such failures.

AceTachyon
02-23-2016, 12:27 AM
I write cyberpunk pulp and my MCs (and the mooks they tangle with) use guns so I try to get the details right.

That said, my description of the web serial is "XENA meets BLADE RUNNER meets John Woo gun-fu." Therefore I tend to be a tad fast and free with the gunplay.


Yes, gun enthusiasts are some of the most nitpicky nitpickers on the planet (evidence: I'm a gun enthusiast) and will completely remove themselves from a piece of fiction if the guns in it function improperly (evidence: me watching every movie where a suppressor is used).



You mean those movie "silencers" that turn a gunshot into a polite little "pfut" noise? Bonus points if it's fitted to a revolver!



I'm not a gun expert by any means but you should hear me rant at martial arts in films...!


HA! I bet you're going to tell me that most fights between real martial artists are fast and brutal and don't involve kicking off walls and lots of backflips and posing and stuff.
All of the above.

King Neptune
02-23-2016, 01:13 AM
I mean, to be fair, the Romans and Greeks had flaming pigs to stop elephants way before gunpowder. The Chinese are copy-pigs!

Thank you, I hadn't run across that before. Now I hope to find a way to use it, maybe as a post battle feast.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-23-2016, 06:22 AM
Thank you, I hadn't run across that before. Now I hope to find a way to use it, maybe as a post battle feast.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_pig

engmajor2005
02-23-2016, 06:43 AM
Sending pigs into battle, rigged to explode?

Only generals gathered in their masses (kind of like witches at black masses)--we're talking evil minds that plot destruction, true sorcerers of death's construction--could come up with such a thing.

jjdebenedictis
02-23-2016, 07:38 AM
I've actually got a lot of sympathy for the idea of sending animals to die if it saves people. I'm in favour of animal testing too.

Unfortunately, they were sending animals to die while killing people, and I've never had patience for the argument that there are right and wrong people to see dead. War is fucking barbaric.

So I don't have much sympathy for the rationale behind weaponized critters after all.

PeteMC
02-23-2016, 01:10 PM
Sending pigs into battle, rigged to explode?

Only generals gathered in their masses (kind of like witches at black masses)--we're talking evil minds that plot destruction, true sorcerers of death's construction--could come up with such a thing.

Damn, you beat me to it! :e2headban

King Neptune
02-23-2016, 05:58 PM
Have you ever tried to herd swine? They can run very fast, and they will go where they wish, and they are relatively intellignet. It must have been very difficult to get them to charge the elephants.

Maxx
02-23-2016, 06:58 PM
So, yeah. Fantasy that has different focus means guns either have to be woven very carefully into the setting, or removed entirely to preserve balance and realism.

Thinking it over, I think I've used lots of guns in my stories. Duels and the like are pretty fun. As are heavy machine guns and what not in large aircraft. Since things are magical, the guns often have unexpected results.

Roxxsmom
02-24-2016, 12:35 AM
I've actually got a lot of sympathy for the idea of sending animals to die if it saves people. I'm in favour of animal testing too.

Unfortunately, they were sending animals to die while killing people, and I've never had patience for the argument that there are right and wrong people to see dead. War is fucking barbaric.

So I don't have much sympathy for the rationale behind weaponized critters after all.

Totally agree about the war being barbaric thing, and it's interesting how many fantasy and SF novels dwell on war and focus on the heroic or noble aspects of it, or on its necessity, even when it's so awful.

I'm in favor of animal research (I sure wouldn't pass on a lifesaving drug that has been tested on animals) and eat meat, so my visceral dislike of animals in warfare is purely emotional, based on a gut-level aversion to earning the trust of something via training and sending it off to die. I also admit that I consider certain animals, the ones with which people tend to bond most strongly (dogs, cats, horses) to be of greater value for no logical reason, so I'm apoplectic at the idea of eating dogs, cats or horses if one isn't starving, but more blase about pigs, cows, and chickens. I grew up eating farm animals and finding them delicious, so cognitive dissonance, I guess.

I know why people use animals in warfare, but I hate it when animals die in books more than when people die. Looking at all those figures of those who died in the eruption at Pompeii, it's the dog that puts tears in my eyes. I've been told I'm a bad person for this, because of course people are more important than animals, and also a hypocrite, since I can eat farm animals I've never met with little guilt, but I think certain critters just trigger some kind of protective instinct in me or something. I don't like it when children die in books either, maybe for the same reason.

themindstream
02-24-2016, 01:24 AM
I'm not sure I have much to add that hasn't been mentioned already but as long as we're trading unusual ancient black powder weaponry, here's the Korean Hwacha (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM2NcPwsngU), Mythbuster's style.

King Neptune
02-24-2016, 03:50 AM
I'm not sure I have much to add that hasn't been mentioned already but as long as we're trading unusual ancient black powder weaponry, here's the Korean Hwacha (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM2NcPwsngU), Mythbuster's style.

Thanks, that's a very nice video. Similar rockets were in use into the mid-1800's..

badducky
02-24-2016, 04:10 AM
I often feel science fiction gets guns wrong, in part because they are too nitpicky about them. The guns one-hundred years ago are still recognizable to us, and available on the market, so to speak, in their primitive designs, but already new technology has made massive changes to the way things work, at the military and civilian scale. Here comes 3D printing technology, too, and all that entails over the next few decades. Soon, we'll have weapons that print their own custom projectiles based on a computer analysis of the target and user goals, if a human is even pulling the specific trigger instead of telling a machine to kill and sending it on its way.

Guns don't feel like the last weapon, to me. They don't even feel close to the last overpowering invention in murder and war. Our insistence on toeing the technology line of guns, with bullets firing from chambers and everything, too often feels as hollow as how many medieval-esque fantasy has epic-level archers/swordsman/etc who never seem to practice in their down time. Swords are hardly ever sharpened, always seem to cut the flesh, etc.

My point, I guess, is that weapons are a material thing, and there is rarely good acknowledgement of that material element when it is expedient and accepted that it may be glossed across by authors who are more interested in other aspects of the work.

Roxxsmom
02-24-2016, 04:21 AM
Well there's always going to be that difference between stories where the weapons/technology/magic used simply serve the plot and ones where they're a big part of what actually drive it. Guns exist in some of my stories, and I try to portray them as realistically as I can in terms of their range, firing rate, accuracy, and in the injuries they cause. But the stories I write aren't about the guns any more than they're about the other tools and implements my characters use (or that are used against my characters).

As for the gritty details, when I read most fantasy books, I assume the characters are practicing with and maintaining their weapons off-camera for the most part. When I write, I may make a passing reference to these things, or have a plot-driving conversation take place while a character is sharpening their sword or engaging in a little target practice or something. But that's not where the focus is.

tiakall
02-24-2016, 05:56 PM
This thread has highlighted how little ranged combat I've developed in my quasi-medieval world.

:Headbang: I suppose I have to deal with that....

Daniel_R
02-27-2016, 08:31 AM
Also, just because you can make gunpowder doesn't necessarily equate to being able to make a colt revolver. The earliest guns were basically supermassive, low power cannons that fired stone balls. Actual small arms like we think of them weren't really practically used for many many years afterwards. There are other elements like crafting skills and metallurgy that go into making a pistol, and if there isn't large scale open conflict in a fantasy universe these sorts of things often will simply not be created. An interesting case and point, if you have the time to read through it all, is the Wheel of time series, where the technology for cannons has existed for ages, but between magic solving many problems and the people who know about gunpowder (Illuminators) not wanting to share their secrets, cannons only come around through an uncommon conflux of events in the book world (Basically a huge war). Personally I felt that was a good approach to the problem.

Dave Williams
02-28-2016, 05:02 AM
Guns are pretty easy. Repeating firearms are very difficult without having at least a toe into some equivalent of the Industrial Revolution.

Offhand, I can think of two fantasy series where guns played a major role - Roger Zelazny's Amber series (from "The Guns of Avalon" on) and Brian Daley's Coramonde series. Dragons vs. John Moses Browning's mighty .50; JMB scores!

AJMarks
02-29-2016, 02:10 AM
I will admit, if I see a modern type gun in a world of magic, it kills the realism for me.

Dravid Mills
03-02-2016, 02:51 PM
Gidday, the end of chivalry does it for me.
I have planets that have no guns as a matter of choice.

Maggi planet has but 8 magic Beings, no guns. What if some nutter killed a Magii, and then there were none?

Choose a planet to be a sword planet. As the mighty Trolly calls them, 'Scratchies'.

Dravid Mills