Scifi and Fantasy are absolutely littered with famous weapons – from Excalibur to the lightsaber to Indiana Jones’ signature bullwhip. The further back you go, the more and more you find.
Compiling a list of my favorites would be an undertaking, but reminiscing about Dilvish got me thinking a little about some of the interesting weapons I’ve read about in recent years that have stuck with me. Here are a few:
1. Dilvish’s invisible sword -A weapon of prophecy, which tells that “eyes will never see” the blade that can slay a particular god. Clever, and for the span that Dilvish wields this sword it’s quite amusing to see his opponents’ reactions to being parried and cut by…nothing, apparently.
2. Orren’s telescopic pike – My good friend Kaiju wrote an untitled sword and sorcery story over at HQ a while back, and his main character, Orren, used a pike that could retract and shoot back out of itself. The idea reminds me of Son Goku’s “Compliant Pole.” Not enough characters take up pole-arms these days; swords seem to see most of the action. But the telescopic pike was so cool that I borrowed it for my short story “Antares,” which appeared in Cirsova #9.
3. Amphibian-man flamethrower – Jack Vance’s stories tend to stick with me. The short stories of the collection The Narrow Land were especially memorable. The titular tale has a lot going on, but the scene depicted in the cover art – that of a large amphibious lizardman wielding some sort of flamethrower, made an impression upon me (maybe because all we’d seen in the story prior to this were medieval-type arms).
4. The Emblem hand-catapult – Of course Jack Vance gets two entries, because it’s me and it’s him. Planet of Adventure plays with all sorts of cool aliens and technologies, one such being the “hand-catapults” used by the Emblem people of Tschai. Now maybe in effect this is just a different (less accurate?) way of describing a wrist crossbow, which has been done plenty (I think he describes it as firing darts or bolts). But “hand-catapult” just sounds so fresh and interesting.
5. Jirel’s kiss – If you’ve not read C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry stories, you should get on that. “Black God’s Kiss” sees a rather coldblooded warrior woman seeking out an unholy weapon to wield against her conqueror. It winds up being a kiss. And she basically condemns the poor dude to hell because she’s pissed that he’s kind of an arrogant, dreamy, dick. Tragic and terrible and wondrous.