Fantasy novels with enchanted guns/weapons?
September 4, 2012 9:09 AM   Subscribe

What fantasy/SF/steampunk/cyberpunk novels feature guns or other modern or futuristic weapons with enchantments or magical effects on them?
posted by shivohum to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World features this prominently.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:14 AM on September 4, 2012

This is a borderline case (as it's a comic and not explicitly in a genre) but in Preacher, the Saint of Killers has a pair of Colt revolvers that never miss. They were made from the melted-down sword of the Angel of Death.
posted by griphus at 9:14 AM on September 4, 2012

Stephen King's Dark Tower series has guns with basically a durability enchantment (they're a thousand years old, or whatever.) Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law has guns that use various types of ammo to do interesting things within the magic system - they're not inherently enchanted, exactly, but metals do interesting things in that world. Terry Pratchett's Men at Arms features a gun (or gonne) that has a particularly unpleasant personality.

It's an interesting question. I can rattle off a couple mostly because it's relatively rare in the sort of stuff I read..
posted by restless_nomad at 9:16 AM on September 4, 2012

Peridido Street Station. I think Mieville's other works are like this, but I've only read this one.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:16 AM on September 4, 2012

The relevant TVTropes section is MagiTek.
posted by zamboni at 9:24 AM on September 4, 2012

To add to Damn Dirty Ape- Both The Scar and Iron Council are set in the same universe. The Scar is fantastic, I have very mixed feelings about Iron Council
posted by Hactar at 9:25 AM on September 4, 2012

Iain M. Banks' Against a Dark Background, maybe. From the Wikipedia summary:
The eight Lazy Guns were mysterious ancient objects, discovered together a long time before the events of the book...When the Lazy Gun is fired at humans, many different things may occur. An anchor may appear above the person, giant electrodes may appear on either side of the target and electrocute them, or an animal may tear their throat out. Larger targets such as tanks or ships may suffer tidal waves, implosion, explosion, sudden lava flows or just disappear. When fired at cities and other such targets, thermonuclear explosions are the norm, although in one instance a comet crashed into the city.
The short story Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee might fit the bill. A quick excerpt:
Arighan’s Flower is the gun she carries. The stranger has taken on a human face to talk to her, and he is almost certainly interested in the gun.

The gun takes different shapes, but at this end of time, origami multiplicity of form surprises more by its absence than its presence. Sometimes the gun is long and sleek, sometimes heavy and blunt. In all cases, it bears its maker’s mark on the stock: a blossom with three petals falling away and a fourth about to follow. At the blossom’s heart is a character that itself resembles a flower with knotted roots.

The character’s meaning is the gun’s secret. The woman will not tell it to you, and the gunsmith Arighan is generations gone.
posted by bcwinters at 9:36 AM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

The orcs from Mary Gentle's GRUNTS discover a cache of modern weapons in a dragon's horde. The weapons are enchanted to change the users, so over time the traditionally tribal and chaotic orcs become modern military combat veterans.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:39 AM on September 4, 2012

There's also the standard trope of the enhanced bullet - silver, infused with garlic/wolfsbane/iron/holy water, some with crosses or spells etched into them. Enchanted bullets go to the extreme in Der Freischutz (The Marksman) which involves bullets that are cast with a particular target in mind and never miss. This is the basis for Tom Waits' The Black Rider.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:44 AM on September 4, 2012

Also comics, but Hellboy's Samaritan is made of magic stuff and fires enchanted rounds.
posted by chazlarson at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2012

China Mieville's already had one shout-out, but I can't resist mentioning the Possible Sword in The Scar.
posted by ReginaHart at 9:55 AM on September 4, 2012

Mieville's "Embassytown," featured, near its beginning, an attacking beast from the eccentric "Always" side of the universe through which its vessel, a kind of mail-buoy, had traveled. The creature started to manifest itself in our reality by stealing matter from nearby buildings, before it was shot down with the "Sometimes guns" of the local constabulary. This is our first encounter with the structure of Embassytown's universe-- our big-bang induced temporary universe-- a "sometimes" universe" exists next to or atop of a permanent "always" universe. A creature of one might travel temporarily through the other, but cannot survive in the other. (Not a spoiler.. this is background in every sense.)

Unfortunately, the weapons were completely un-described and never appeared again, that I recall. Fantastic book, especially if you like to talk about language.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:26 AM on September 4, 2012

C. S. Friedman's Coldfire books have enchanted weaponry. Pistols and such if I remember correctly.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2012

The SF novel "Implied Spaces," by Walter John Williams begins with a character passing through desert in a fantasy realm. One learns before long, though that his sword not only spills blood with aplomb, but contains a wormhole for banishing foes with a tech level that's inappropriate to the fantasy pocket-universe.

Charles Stross's "Laundry" novels feature a UK government preparing to protect its citizens against "CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN," the upcoming event in which the Earth's mass of sentient minds grows large enough to catch the attention of great ancient (Lovecraftian) aliens who consume minds. Among the UK's measures is an enchantment that covers the nation's CCTV cameras, which can then be used to curious effect if any two cameras can get their digital eyeballs onto some eldritch menace. Another character plays a restored and weaponized version of the violin built by the demented Erich Zann. It's best for everyone if you don't ever hear what that violin has to play.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:20 AM on September 4, 2012

Anime? The second "Dog Days" series has some of that. In one episode Rebecca summons up a magical blaster rifle which she uses to drive away a hostile cat-god.

Ricotta Elmar has a pair of hand weapons she designed which look like grenade launchers or flare guns. She uses them to fire magical exploding bolts.

And Couverte Pastillage has a magical ring which can transform into a weapon that looks like a long-barrel flint lock, but which actually fires magical bolts.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2012

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