Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Imagine No Guns-A Book Review

Alphecca has a post about an old Dave Kopel article in the National Review. The article imagines what would happen if there were a world-wide gun ban. Basically, such a ban would be ineffective for many reasons.

The article and post got me thinking about a couple of novels I read recently and thought I would share them with you. A theme in both is to force characters to rely on brains and brawn because guns no longer worked or became unavailable. The author of both books is S.M. Stirling and both are science fiction for lack of better term.

The first novel, Island in the Sea of Time imagines that Nantucket Island is somehow transported to the Bronze Age (remember "willing suspension of disbelief" for the rest of this post). The author is not satisfied with making things too easy for the displaced Yankees by allowing them to have guns.

The townspeople are under a great deal of stress are there are suicides and murders. The new government decides to round up guns until such time that people return to their senses. One character opposes this gun ban, but it goes forth anyway and guns and ammo are confiscated and put in a warehouse. A religious group ends up burning the warehouse and destroying most of the firearms that came back with the time travelers. So much for gun control, and the lesson I took from this is: if I ever find myself in the Bronze Age I will never allow myself to be disarmed (since I won't be visiting the past anytime soon, I will follow this lesson anyway).

The book talks about trade, wars with Bronze Age natives, internal battles among the time-warped Nantucketeers. It even has a group of moonbats that get a serious comeuppance.

The author does not seem to be a gun-grabber type who wants guns to disappear. The destruction of most guns is a plot device. The book is still interesting for all that and I give it four out of five stars. There are two other books in the Nantucket series that I have yet to read.

Stirling followed this book with Dies the Fire. It is not a sequel instead it explains what happened to the rest of the world when Nantucket slipped into the past. The transposition of Nantucket took a lot of energy and there is no longer electricity in the entire world. Certain chemical reactions no longer work either and among these is gunpowder.

Guns are clumsy clubs now. One young woman thinks this is the best news she ever heard until the book's hero tells what will happen--people will arm themselves with everything they can find. Bows and arrows. old swords, knives, homemade spears, everything that man has figured out how to use to kill another man. Ironically Renaissance Fair-type geeks have a head start in this new society. A history professor and sword fan becomes the book's "Dark Lord." Again, the book requires a healthy willing suspension of disbelief and if science fiction is not your cup of tea, don't read it or its companions.

As a gun nut, I liked the fact that the author depicted a world that was actually more violent without guns. I think he is right in this. I would hate to live in a world without firearms since Bill and I collect them, use them for recreation, and keep and bear them for self-defense.

No comments: