What if the device doesn’t work?

Time and again I have read a story where the steampunk inventor creates a device, at the last minute or there would be no suspense, that saves the day.

Is this trope becoming a clique? The villain has a time machine that always delivers him to the right time or reasonably close to the right time. The battery never runs down, or the device doesn’t even needs a battery (free energy). Free energy would be worth more than the time machine and without the risk of getting stuck back in time. The past is a nasty place.

How about current technology. You never hear of a gun not firing. Even today handguns don’t always go off. I’ve been on the firing range and pulled the trigger and the gun has not gone off. Do I have a slow burning round. You hold the gun down range and count. Then you unload a round that could go off at any time. They tell you to pick up a round, that could go off in your hand, and check to see if the primer was struck. OK, the primer was struck, the gun did not fail, but I’m holding a round in my hand that could go off at any time.

This was factory ammunition from a major manufacturer. I don’t buy ammo from them any more.

This happens in combat. You are the line in some foreign country. Ten or twelve enemy combatants are dug in front of you. You call up a manpack (a shoulder launched rocket). You pop the covers off the ends of the manpack and sight in. Pull the trigger and nothing happens. On your shoulder is a weapon that cost a good fraction of a million dollars, and it didn’t work

What do you do. You yell for another manpack before the enemy can take off to kill another day, and you may be the one they kill next time. Thankfully the second manpack worked.

Would anybody believe your story if the weapon failed. They might not. Guns always fire on TV. Cowboys always have bullets and never reload. Everyone has machine guns and always hit their targets and never run out of ammo.

There is a true story of a submarine captain firing two torpedoes at a enemy ship. One torpedo went off. He fired ten more torpedoes at the unmoving ship. Only one more went off. His command did not believe he fired competently. A lot of Americans died before they realized that the torpedoes had a problem with the firing pin.

Having fantastic weapons is great, but those weapons will not always work or work only in special cases.

Guns are not magic, and yes a bow and arrow can take out a man with a machine gun. It’s not something you want to do, but it is possible.

Stay strong, write on, and keep your weapon clean.

Professor Hyram Voltage.

Genius is in the mind, Stupidity goes all the way to the bone.

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