Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Michael Stephen Fuchs - whose rather good novels I have reviewed for Pulp.net and on this blog - has written an article for the manfully-named www.shotsmag.co.uk. He writes about the difference between British and American authors in their treatment of guns. In summary, the Brits are less expert.

I've made my own, modest contribution to this trend by bungling a description of firearms not once but several times in the original publication of Déjà vu. I described the cylinder of a revolver as the barrel (hey, it's somewhat barrel-like!) and was very loose in my treatment of the term 'firing pin'. Fortunately, an American reader pointed this out - in a genuinely kind manner - and I've put it straight for subsequent versions of the book.

Says Michael:

This cultural difference also results in some very palpable differences between writing about guns and gunplay by British authors versus American authors. With American crime and action writers – if you know what to listen for, at any rate – it’s easy to get a sense that they are writing from first-hand experience. With Brits, it’s equivalently easy to get a sense they are writing straight from research. This is because, generally, at some point in the book, the British writer will let slip one small but enormously glaring boner about the makeup or operations of firearms. When this happens, it’s like getting a brief glimpse around the edge of the cardboard building facade in a Hollywood set: nothing else has changed, all the other details are still right. But, suddenly, the whole thing just looks irretrievably fake.

I'll get m'coat.

Hell, I am busting to fire a projectile weapon. I want to know how much it stings one's palm; what it smells like; how loud it is; does it make that PEEEEOW(OW)(ow) sound liberally employed on the foley track for The Professionals? I also wouldn't mind hitting something, as long as it's made of clay.

I wonder if Michael has any in his cupboard.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Roland Hulme said...

Any time you're over in my neck of the woods, my gun-owning brother in law has threatened to take me to a shooting range, so tag along!

3:29 PM  
Blogger Dr Ian Hocking said...

Excellent! Will do. :-)

6:57 PM  
Blogger pomo housewife said...

Shooting is so much fun. It's almost like taking a photo - hold your breath, squeeze. Frighteningly easy. I'm slightly deaf in my right ear, and I swear it's from the noise of firing blanks while on patrol with no hearing protection. It's an intense, percussive snap - I can't think how to describe it. (bad writer! bad writer!!!) On the range you wear earplugs, but out playing soldiers, you don't.

The feel depends on the weapon. I've only fired a pistol once, and I can't remember what sort it was. I remember being shocked by how much it kicked up. It's such a small, insubstantial thing and you can point it any which-way so easily... so deadly!

The rifle, by contrast, feels like a part of your arm. It sits comfortably in your shoulder and just gives a friendly little punch back into your body. The difference between a single shot and a burst is just the subtlest of pressure on the trigger.

I had a go on a Minimi once. Sprayed rounds all over the place - it was like trying to hang onto a really p-d off tomcat. I guess I was having a bit of a girly moment and didn't get agressive enough with it.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Dr Ian Hocking said...

Thanks for your comment, Helen. Sounds like it's great fun! What on earth is a Minimi?

11:20 AM  
Blogger pomo housewife said...

F89 LMG (light machine gun). 5.56.

Machine guns weigh a ton - I can't remember if it was the Mag 58 or an M60 that we used to lug around - I've had a (brief) turn carrying the damn thing and carrying the rounds for it (also weigh a ton) though I didn't fire it. Definitely a man's weapon, I think!

You should definitely try to arrange some time at a range. Shooting is the one thing I miss about the army. Of course, for me it was strictly 'playing soldiers' - shooting on a range or on exercise with blanks - I don't have any experience of shooting or being shot at for real. Which is a good thing.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Dr Ian Hocking said...

Wow, I agree. A good thing :-)

9:30 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home