The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

As quite a few of you know, I read a lot. Don’t care what. Might be Chinese history; might be the history of British politics. Or about what’s really, really inside an atom’s nucleus.  If it pops up in front of me, I read it.

As I’ve consumed various kinds of fiction–novels, who-done-its, science fiction–every now and then, a writer who seems to have a good story going throws something in that dismays me because it’s wrong, and it spoils the rest of the book.

I was reading a spy novel a while ago. Action was flying. Shoot-outs, hand-to-hand, weapons of various kinds and calibers were going off. In the middle of what was actually a pretty well done presentation of the chaos of the moment, the author said: “Mac caught the AK-74 that I threw him, and emptied the 7mm magazine of 20 rounds in less than two seconds!”

He threw a what?!? An AK-74? Some of you reading this already know that there is no AK-74; that it is actually an AK-47, which is a Chinese communist eastern bloc rifle that became popular against us in Vietnam. You can dunk it in the river, roll it in the sand, and treat it badly, and it will still fire.

But not only is it not an AK-74, it does not fire 7mm ammo. Which almost every pistol carried by police in the USA use. It instead fires 7.62 by 33 mm rifle ammo, which is a whole different ammo from the pistols. Come on, authors. Look this stuff up, will you?

Another novel that I gave up on had the hero of the moment pulling out his Navy Colt 45 revolver,  cocking it, and discharging all six rounds as fast as he could cock it and pull the trigger. Now, there is an army Colt 45, which is an automatic that holds 7 rounds, plus one in the hole. And yes, you might cock it once, if there is a round chambered, but only out of total lackluster ignorance would you call it a revolver, much less anything regarding the Navy.

Then I got into a scifi novel that did a great job of handling the science-ey stuff. Here’s a great sentence: “The hollowed-out asteroid carrying 50,000 pilgrims fleeing the earth gave out little in the way of anomalous radiation, even though stray subatomic particles did cascade into deadly secondary radiation behind it, as quantum particles recombined, making it detectable by enemy aliens.”

What a great sentence. But as I’ve read various scifi novels over the last few years, I realize that terms like “particles and antiparticles jumping in and out of existence” and “you don’t grow any older hardly as you travel through space at near light speed velocity” and “travel by entering a new relationship with the four-dimensional space time quantum physics” are no longer science fiction.

They’re now reality. And in some cases, are old history.

Now I’m in a novel regarding basic trainees going through age-old hazing, even though it’s now the year 2422. (Some things don’t change.) Then the author had some new recruits going into this army basic training. One trainee, flustered by the first-day hazing of the drill sergeants, replied: “Yes, sir!”

“What did you say, trainee?”

“Yes, sir!”

“You will from now on reply to any questions addressed to you by: “Sir! Yes, sir!”

Ah, fooey. Now they’re messing with stuff I went through, which is army basic training. 

Hey, author? Not in the army, author. Drill sergeants in the army are addressed by the term: Yes, Drill Sergeant. They consider being addressed by the officer term “sir” as defamatory.

However, in the marines, it’s different. There, It’s “Sir. Yes, sir.” Why, I don’t know.

Sigh. Come on, authors. Let’s do some fact checking once in a while.