In China Melville’s book, Un Lun Dun, there is a super weapon called the UnGun. This weapon appears to be a revolver with side sliding cylinder into which you can load anything that will fit. Once the cylinder is snapped shut it is locked and cannot be opened until all six shots have been discharged. When fired, the gun interprets the specific chamber contents and blasts out (or sucks in) an amplified, or related result, tailored to maximally disturb the thing it was aimed at.
For example, in the book the gun was loaded with a lock of hair, an ant, a grain of salt, a grape, some brick dust, and a scrap of paper. When fired, it produced, respectively, uncontrolled hairgrowth in the enemy that caused their gasmasks to be become dislodged and so disabled them, a swarm of voracious ants that consumed a monster composed of animated fruit, the effect of turning a huge area of fresh water into brine in order to poison the dangerous plants, wild growth of vines that snared pursuers, a gigantic brick wall that walled off pursuers, and finally a flight of paper darts that cut the targets.
The final demonstration was when the gun was fired with an empty chamber, thus creating a vaccuum.
To me, these descriptions of a weapon(?) that can create out of thin air objects that defy the normal mechanics of nature (were did all the mass come from?), tailors the effect to the target chosen, and seems to have a perverse sense of humour in itself (the firer has no idea what is going to happen), reminds me an awful lot of Iain Banks’ Lazy Gun.
The Lazy Gun similarly has unpredictable effects, though in the more adult Banks conception the effects are always lethal. But, for example, instead of simply shooting a bullet it may acuse an anchor to appear in mid air over the victim, killing him in the crush. Or cause a tidal wave. Banks seems to run out of imagination in the effects, ending up with quite pedestrian nuclear explosions when aimed at cities. However, he does provide some great background to the weapon itself, suggesting that it possibly has universe/dimension control and can reach into parallel universes to grab what it wants and deliver it ‘here’.
He goes on to say that there are/were/is a total of eight Lazy Guns, and then goes on to describe how, in his book Against A Dark Background, all but one have been destroyed. The story is, like Un Lun Dun, about retrieving this unique artefact. For more information on the Lazy Gun, read here: Excert from Against a Dark Background.
It seems to me that such an artefact is more than just a machine. It is an intelligence of some kind: a multi-dimensional thing with a perverted sense of humour. It hardly seems possible that such an object could be ‘destroyed’ in any normal sense. Surely it would need to be obliterated in every universe. Destroying it in any one would merely force it out of that universe. Given that such an entity has such power to affect local reality it seems reasonable to imagine that it can appear to be anything it wants as well.
The UnGun is one of the eight mythical Lazy Guns, currently residing in UnLondon.
Aside from this revelation, I reckon that ‘whatever we choose to call it’ makes a great story telling device: “You have six shots. Anything could happen that will propell the story along.” I plan to try this in a stroy telling game soon.