The Bear Gun Has Landed

Of course, the bear gun has landed for some time now. I wrote it back in August 2010 (it’s been a year already?!) for the open reading period on Jeff VanderMeer’s website, Ecstatic Days, for the Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s an excellent anthology built around a simple premise: the titular Dr. Lambshead has died, and a collection of friends and colleagues exhume a partly scorched cabinet in his home stocked with all sorts of weird items. Naturally, there are stories to go with these weird items, and these stories make up the entirety of the anthology.

The Gallows-horse, as drawn by China Mieville (yes, that one) and documented by Reza Negarestani

For the open reading period, we were all asked to write these little microfiction entries for items in the titular cabinet. The gist was that these items did not receive full-length entries, like the other main entries in the volume, due to lacking scholarship or other reasons in keeping with the verisimilitude of the anthology. I wrote “Bear Gun,” uploaded it to Jeff’s website, and went back to my regular business, not knowing what kind of chance I would have against the hundreds of wonderful entries entered alongside mine.

I always thought the bear gun was a fun little joke of a device: a rifle that shoots bears as ammunition. It was an in-joke we created at Stonecoast in the summer of 2010, me and a few of my writer friends being the ones behind it. We created the concept of the bear gun together, and I took the ball (gun?) and ran with it for the contest, with my friends’ blessings/encouragement. I crafted a fun little mini-story to go with the gun (yes, I do imply that 1) Lincoln was assassinated with a bear gun and 2) John Ford, of the theater where said assassination took place, was somehow involved). And, in the end, the bear gun won out for inclusion in the anthology, a little in-joke introduced to a wider world.

Some, though not all, of the guilty party involved in the bear gun's creation. From left to right: Ian Withrow; Donny Chavez; an earlier, heavier version of Me; Tarver Mathison. I don't know whose arm that is at bottom right. Photo courtesy of Matt Switliski.

The response to the bear gun has been heartwarming so far. Jeff has gone on record as saying it’s “just plain hilarious” (it’s always wonderful when a writer you admire and, in all honesty, emulate responds positively to your work). Public readings from the anthology by Jeff and his wife Ann at various events have included the bear gun, to great effect.

And now, the bear gun has moved on to other places on the Internet, specifically TV Tropes.

Like many a writer or story junkie, I frequent TV Tropes for information on all sorts of stories and types of stories. I’ve lost many hours of my life just happening upon an article about Applied Phlebotinum and winding up at the page for Magnificent Bastards. So, imagine my delight when I happen upon the page for Abnormal Ammo and find this as the first entry in the Literature tab:

In the Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities anthology, the Bear Gun is mentioned at the very end. It shoots bears. By saying it shoots bears, I think that you think it’s for use specifically against bears, like a Buffalo Gun against, well, buffalo. But no, this gun uses miniature bears as the ammunition, which expand at some point after leaving the barrel. I’d ask someone for an explanation, but… well, who cares?

Obviously, I’ve got other plans for my writing besides this Little Story That Could. All the same, I would love nothing more than for my bear bullets to spread all throughout the Internet. Why not? If it’s a good joke, I want everybody to be in on it.


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2 responses to “The Bear Gun Has Landed

  1. I wrote the entry you quoted on tvtropes =D.

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