Thursday, May 16, 2024

Choose Your Weapon - Firearms

Jinx from Arcane - Season Two Theories - by Tom Hartig November 22, 2021

A firearm might not be the first weapon we think of sifting through the Fantasy genre, but when considering the popular subcategories, from Steampunk to Urban Fantasy, they do indeed appear. Think of it this way: In any world where gunpowder has been discovered, firearms can exist. 

Ever since Marco Polo started travelling the Silk Road, these exploding projectile weapons have found their way into the hands of Western inventors, and shortly after, Western literature, including Fantasy. Just take a look at these wonderful subgenre examples.


Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate Series comes to mind.

Engagingly written in a Steampunk/PNR/tongue-in-cheek style, this is a 'five book (and one prequel short) series chronicling the exploits of Alexia Tarabotti, a lady of considerable assets including a large Scottish werewolf, a battle-parasol, and treacle tart. Oh, and she has no soul...'

“Well, my love,” said Alexia with prodigious daring to Lord Maccon, “shall we?” 

The earl started to move forward and then stopped abruptly and looked down at her, not moving at all. “Am I?”

“Are you what?” She peeked up at him through her tangled hair, pretending confusion. There was no possible way she was going to make this easy for him.

“Your love?”

“Well, you are a werewolf, Scottish, naked, and covered in blood, and I am still holding your hand.”

He sighed in evident relief. “Good. That is settled, then.”

― Gail Carriger, Soulless

How fun is that!

Think also of Sanderson's Alloy of Law, the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik and other great Steampunk reads like the Lightbribger series by Brent Weeks

From Western subgenres to the Victorian era and the Civil War, Steampunk has much to offer, including a 'new' take on weapons in the Fantasy arsenal.

Urban Fantasy

This genre has had its ups and downs, but Urban Fantasy is in our blood and here to stay. With its paranormal characters set against a citified backdrop, what's not to love?

I burned through the Southern Vampire Mysteries (You can check out this internet database of firearms found in True Blood, as an example). I  also relish authors like Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Tompson Series

But there are some caveats to consider when writing Urban Fantasy.

 Because we want readers immersed in the tale, 'modern' weapons require careful handling. Otherwise, their appearance might flip readers out of the magic and fracture the storytelling altogether.

The first thing I consider with this genre is giving the township or city backdrop a personality. Think of it as a main character:

The backdrop aesthetic in an urban fantasy... plays a key role in the story; For this reason, the urban setting needs to be very well developed. - Jacqueline Silveste

Weapons are part of this environmental dev. That's why, in some cases, these Urban Fantasy guns will have real names (like the Ruger in the Ava Sykes series), or even mystical ones that imbue magical powers. They may also have special modifications like species-specific bullets. 

... I opened my gun safe and slipped my Ruger 9 mm into my calf holster and smoothed down my jeans. 

I was licensed to carry, and I always did at work, more for the trip there and back than anything else. 

New LA wasn't really a city of angels, not good ones anyway...

From Ava Sykes - The Blood in the Beginning

Post Apocalyptic Fantasy

In this genre, guns make plenty of sense though there may be more issues around obtaining the firearms,

and maintaining them, let alone finding bullets. It depends on how far down the rabbit hole the world has gone. Try TW Piperbrook's Better Guns and Gardens for a quick intro!

And if you want to just kick back and watch a fantastic video-game-turned-Prime-Original-Series, there is always the newly released Fallout

"Based on one of the greatest video games of all time, Fallout is the story of haves and have-nots in a world in which there’s almost nothing left to have. 200 years after the apocalypse, the gentle denizens of luxury fallout shelters are forced to return to the incredibly complex, gleefully weird and highly violent universe waiting for them above."

However we look at them, guns are fantasy weapons and when handled correctly, make exciting additions to the storytelling.

Do you have a fav fantasy-with-firearms series? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


Choose Your Weapon Series


The Perfect Storm

The Sword




About Kim Falconer

Kim Falconer, currently writing as AK Wilder, has released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy with Curse of Shadows as book 2 in the series. Currently, she is working on the third book, out in 2024.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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