Pith Helmet

Pistol-Grip Pulp
July 12, 2008, 11:03 am
Filed under: Firearms, Gaming, History | Tags: , , ,

The folks at IAR (International Antique Reproductions) Arms posted a review of the Chinese Shansi .45 version of the Mauser C-96 “Broomhandle” that originally appeared in the February 2001 issue of Gun World. File this under: “I want…”


First Rule of Guards Club
The folks at Guards Club share my love of pith-helmeted expeditionary forces, moustachioed White Russians, and purple-clad masked avengers and my fear of the Yellow Peril and the Red Menace. They can be found at http://members.tripod.com/kriegsmann/adventuretoo.html.


Vade Retro Me, Pullmanus
November 23, 2007, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Books, Firearms, Movies, Religion | Tags: , , ,

I have received chain e-mail from a number of people alleging that if I go see The Golden Compass, I will be a traitor to Christendom. They cite various sources, everyone from Focus on The Family to The Catholic League to Philip Pullman himself, the author of the books on which the film is based.

I first heard of Pullman and his His Dark Materials trilogy when Pullman criticized C. S. Lewis. As a fan of Lewis, I was not very pleased with Pullman’s words. Still, I decided to give his trilogy try, but The Golden Compass failed to keep my interest at the time. While I find Pullman’s world quite enchanting and remain in awe of the skills with which he constructed it, his writing just couldn’t hold my attention.

However, the film looks like it could definitely keep me enthralled for 99 minutes. It has everything I could ask for in a movie. Airships, alternate history, Eva Green, a cowboy played by Sam Elliot, a polar explorer, and guns. And not just any guns. “Obscure and beautiful guns from around the world.”

We are introduced to Nick, a man who Loves His Guns. With the impracticability of constructing their own guns from scratch, he and his team searched for obscure and beautiful guns from around the world – and are confident that the weapons eventually used have not been seen on screen anywhere else before. Each gun chosen for each character is a deliberate design choice. Lord Asriel carries an 1880s revolver and a rare Swiss Canton rifle with a huge reloading bolt. The Trollesund police pack a standard Russian WW1 rifle, whilst the Magisterium police bear a more advanced weapon, coloured back to match their uniforms. Nick gleefully showcases each gun by firing several dummy rounds from each, admonishing bystanders to stick their fingers in their ears.
It only gets louder with the Tartar’s weapon – a 1960s Spanish police carbine, practically an assault rifle. This is the gun most frequently used in the Bolvangar scene we’ve just witnessed part of and has been modified to hold separate rounds, which give a lighter sound, so as not to alarm the child actors. The guns don’t end there as Nick whips out a flintlock pistol – carried by Farder Coram he tells us, the character perhaps being made more muscular than in the book – he is certainly a younger actor. Amongst the Gyptians, John Faa lofts an 1870s Austrian model, with Tony Costa brandishes a pair of French pistols. Even Ma Costa reputedly packs a weapon – three we’re told, one of which being a small sawn-off shotgun, whilst one always remains concealed. In the film, Ma Costa will be heading north with the men, as seen in some of the promotional stills.
Nick and his team’s approach to the weaponry of the book is a microcosm of the film’s design philosophy – Lyra’s world is not to be any one recognisable period from our world, it will always remain truly alternate. The team have a clear vision for the pieces – the Gyptians’ guns produce more smoke as they are not able to afford quality ammunition. Only Lee Scoresby has a very typical weapon – a Colt revolver and a Winchester rival, famous in America for “winning the west;” this is because it was felt that the character was a very traditional cowboy. In a scene where Lee shoots from his balloon, Sam Elliot reportedly wanted to use a revolver, not a rifle – better suited for long-range – as he thought his character was such a good shot. The big gun – literally – is saved for last: a Nock Volley, a gun so large the Royal Navy had to abandon it as too few men were strong enough to fire it. It is the Gyptians’ special and Nick quips, “when this is fired, everyone in front of it falls over.”
[ source : BridgeToTheStars.Net ]

Having read this and seen the trailers for the movie, and keeping in mind the rubbish passes for speculative fiction these days [cough]Robert Jordan[/cough], I have to ask myself, “Why couldn’t we get Phil Pullman, and let the other side have Tim Lahaye?”


  • “A Call to Arms: How to Fight The Book Burners” by Merlyn
  • “A Dark Agenda” by Susan Roberts
  • “Far From Narnia: Philip Pullman’s secular fantasy for children” by Laura Miller
  • “Wardrobes in Collision: The Divergent Visions of C. S. Lewis and Philip Pullman” by James S. C. Baehr and Ted Baehr
  • Tehanu’s Seventeenth Note: His Dark Materials
  • “This Is The Most Dangerous Author in Britain” by Peter Hitchens