Monday, January 10, 2011

Maybe . . .

. . .I'm too picky

But, I expect quality novelists to have some ability to check facts - or have them checked.

I'm currently reading "The Death Trust" by David Rollins. It has a good start, but there are an unexpected number of errors.

In discussing the habit of middle easterners to fire their weapons into the air for practically any reason, he says:

"The slugs always came back to earth, and when they did, they were every bit as lethal as aimed rounds fired from the shoulder."

Bzzzzzzzzzzt. Wrong! Old wives' tale.

Take a 5.56 x 45 NATO round for example. It leaves the muzzle at 3,100 feet/sec. When falling back to earth, it's maximum velocity is about 175 feet/sec. That makes the energy at the muzzle about 1,325 ft-lbs, and the energy of the falling bullet is about 5.0 ft-lbs. So, it's about 0.4% as deadly - but that won't make a good story. Something weighing a little over a tenth of an ounce at that speed wouldn't be comfortable, but a good felt hat would be sufficient protection.

Then, there's the general whose glider shed its wings and took him nose-first into the ground.

"General Scott hit the base of a towering pine tree at two hindred and ninety-one miles per hour."

Bzzzzzzzzzzt. Wrong!

While free-fall speeds over 200 mph are possible near sea level, it takes an experienced skydiver, not someone in a broken glider wetting his nappies because he only has seconds to live.

Of course, General Scott was important because of the job he held.

"He was the CO of Ramstein Air Base. A four-star heavy hitter"
Bzzzzzzzzzzt. Wrong!

With very rare exceptions, Commanding officers of American military bases are Army, Air Force or Marine colonels or Navy captains.

And I'm only up to page 15.