Getting it right
Something that I find quite irritating is reading
a book or newspaper or a report on the internet
and finding a glaring error in the "facts."
It is the author's responsibility to make sure
that all of the content is accurate. And just
because they write fiction, it doesn't let them
off the hook.
I can recall reading a book for review that
had a scene describing a guy "slamming a fresh
clip of thirty-eight specials into his gun."
Well, the thirty-eight special is a cartridge
that was developed for a revolver where ammunition
is loaded into a rotating magazine known as
a cylinder. A "clip" is a removable magazine
that is used in semi-automatic pistols. Although
there have been some hybrid pistols chambered
for the thirty-eight special, they are extremely
rare. It was obvious that the author hadn't
done enough research on handguns. It was an
advance reading copy so I figured I would let
him know so that he could correct his mistake
prior to publication. The guy took offense to
my comments and refused to make any changes.
After the book was published he got hammered
with mail from people telling him about his
I can recall reading another book written by
a respected historian telling the tale of the
Edmund Fitzgerald, the ore freighter
that sunk with all hands during a November gale
on Lake Superior. The author described the underwater
photos of the ship saying that "the wooden lifeboats,
still lashed to the deck had been crushed."
On a visit to Sault Ste. Marie that summer I
had occasion to view the lifeboats from the
Fitzgerald. They had been recovered and
sat on the deck of the museum ship, the Valley
Camp. I actually photographed one of the
lifeboats with the Edmund Fitzgerald
identification stenciled on the bow. The lifeboats
were made of steel, not wood.
When a writer makes a careless mistake like
that, it makes me think that they didn't take
the time and trouble to do their research. I
lose faith in their credibility and begin to
wonder how much of the story is factual and
how much is made up.
When an author writes a mystery story, even
if it's fiction I'd think that they ought to
know that their readers will be a fairly knowledgeable
crowd. They should at least get the gun stuff
right. You can be sure that they'll hear about
it if they get sloppy. Every firearms manufacturer
in the world has a website and all of those
websites have a section that contains technical
information. All necessary information for all
guns is available on the internet. There are