A Handgun-Related Whoopsie in “Kaiju”

Which is: Glock 19s don’t have external safeties.

Which I knew, because after I wrote the firearm into the scene I was all “Oh, I should check to make sure I’m accurately representing that handgun,” and then I was all, “Oh, that’s not accurate, I will have to go back and change that,” and than I was all, “Hey, look, shiny object over here,” and then forgot all about it. Embarrassing, that. I will fix it for subsequent editions. I’m posting it here so when Glock 19 owners and others send me correction notes, I can point them to this and let them know it’s a known issue which will be addressed in in the future (or, depending on when one reads this, may have already been addressed for those subsequent editions).

This is not the first time I made an error which made it into the final (see: The hyperbolic orbit of an asteroid in The Ghost Brigades, which persisted across several editions, much to my exasperation), and these things happen, because people are fallible, and I no less so than others. It’s still annoying. I prefer errors in my work to be not so obvious, you know?

Anyway, yes. Oops. Fixing. Thank you.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

50 replies on “A Handgun-Related Whoopsie in “Kaiju””

I’m a big fan of the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novels. At the time we met, my wife was working in a gun store. I tried to introduce her to one of their novels. She admitted to me that she didn’t like it as much as she’d hoped, because they got multiple details wrong about multiple weapons they mentioned in the novel. I don’t know enough about firearms to be distracted like that, but for her, it was a dealbreaker.


Sure. And it’s not unreasonable for someone with expertise to be thrown out by basic errors. Which is why I doublechecked the Glock information, so I wouldn’t make a basic error — then made it anyway, because apparently I have the attention span of a hungry dog in a jerky outlet.

John Day:

That’s just a copy edit error, albeit an amusing one.

There’s always at least one.

Years ago, I spoke with someone who did really high-end corporate biographies, like for six figures. He said that when the manuscript was done he hired parallel teams of editors and proofers, and then combined their work.

And there were still errors in the final.

This about the safety thing on the weapon? I know almost nothing about handguns, but somehow watched a video about the way the safety on a glock works once, and it stuck because of reasons.

Good thing I know nothing about guns. This was a great book, a truly entertaining read.

As an aside, there is nothing so distracting when reading a really good story, as I am now, than an author who repetitively makes the same grammatical error. In this case it is the misuse of “I” where “me” is correct. Every time this otherwise good writer does that, it is like an irritating tic which drops me out of my immersion in the world they have created.

And of course, readers of the current edition will received a copy of the corrected edition with a handwritten letter of apology, so best to get your whole list of errors and typos together and have them fixed once. It would be tiring to get new copies of this book each week.

As I always say when these things pop up, Larry Niven and the entire editorial & production team of RINGWORLD got the rotation of the Earth backwards in the first edition. Things like this are gonna happen!

As someone whose house is soundproofed due to our proximity to BWI, the airport goof is highly amusing. :)

While you’re doing errata, you also slipped up and called Niamh “she” when they are talking to Jamie about nuclear power in Chapter 12:

[She pointed at Kahurangi, who was also catching up on his reading. “This one’s whole damn country is a nuclear-free zone.”]

I spent a career in the USAF around airplances and things that are designed to fall off of them. There are few military novels I read that don’t get at least an eyeroll or two for errors. TV shows and movies are much worse though, so there is that. (I do hold out hope though for Tom Hanks’ HBO “Mighty 8th” series, analogous to the earlier “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”, currently in prodution.)

But at least those eyerolls are better than the few times I tried to wade through pages of turgid prose essentially copied from tech manuals (“He pushed up the throttle on his F-16 Block 50 with his left hand, increasing the fuel flow to his General Electric F110-GE-129 to begin utilizing the 29,400 pounds of thrust the engine was capable of as he pulled back on the sidestick controller with his right to send the flight commands using the fly-by-wire control system. As he watched his fuel flow increase he was grateful for the 440 gallon conformal fuel tanks his Block 50 had over the previous blocks…”)

When people find typos, it demonstrates that they have actually read the book.

I wonder if anyone has looked at the ratio of typos reported to copies sold in the first N days after release?

Dare I say, I bet there was a lot of hyperbole in the comments about the asteroid orbit…

Seriously, I don’t know how my wife never lets such things bother her. If it’s a subject I’m familiar with, the more I know the more such errors pull me out of the story (fortunately for me, I know nothing about hand guns…)

FL Transplant: I hear you. There are a couple of otherwise very good military SF writers I know of that do that sometimes. For the same reason that errors in descriptions of hand guns don’t bother me, detailed descriptions of the hardware DO. If I cared enough about weaponry to be disturbed by the errors, I wouldn’t need the catalog!

I would never have known but I admire your desire to get this stuff right.

Also, on the general subject of accuracy, never watch a law or medical show with a doctor or lawyer unless you want to be more entertained by them than the show.


I’m a programmer, and I used to watch Law & Order with my dad, who was a garage door installer. There were so many times that they made all kinds of mistakes with anything related to computers and I grumbled about every one of ’em. My dad was very happy the one time he got to complain about a mistake they made about opening garage doors during a power outage.

Which is on reason not to buy, own, or use one of the things. Who the hell designs a firearm without an external safety? Glocks seem to me a wrongful death lawsuit waiting to happen, given how many Americans manage to “accidentally” shoot themselves or those around them with weapons that DO have safeties.

But then, as a GI, my first experience with handguns was the Colt M1911A1 that has three of them, so I might be a trifle biased…

Not as bad as an error in an article (a New York Times article at that, IIRC) where the reporter for a story about the escalating problem of handgun violence noted that one contributing factor was “handguns with longer barrels that can hold more bullets.”

I know that Amazon pushes out “updated” versions of ebooks purchased from them…is this the kind of thing covered in one of those? Either the reworked bit about the Glock, or the airport copyedit correction?

Because I’m a terrible person, one of my favourite things to do is watch things with lots of techy stuff and “hacking” with either of my partners, both of whom work in IT. They get so mad, it’s hilarious. So far Black Hat (the one with Chris Hemsworth) and the first episode of Scorpion have gotten the best reaction.
To be fair, I also do it to myself. I’ve seen most of Bones, and a fair bit of the various CSI iterations. As someone with a bioanthropology degree that was meant to lead to a career in forensics, I have, shall we say, ISSUES with the science presented in those shows. There may occasionally be flailing at the screen.

There used to be a book series like ‘Remo Williams: The Destroyer’, and ‘Mack Bolan’, and ‘The Executioner’, one of those series, were the author took great delight in getting all his gun facts wrong, and cackling over the mail he would get from enraged gun nuts.

As a retired professional tech writer, you might try my technique for finding typos and usage errors. Run your chapter through a copy machine, preferably to make several copies. The errors will leap to your eye like magic.

Oh, goodie. Now I can put in the typo’s I caught. On page 25, the open quotation mark is missing in:
Yes?” Avella asked.
On page 58, the tilde has been left off the name,
Joao. (And as you know, that “y” sound is very important.)

Is there any reason not to move “Handgun-Related Whoopsie” over into the “Name Of My Next Band” column?

(I’ve always wanted to name a 50s cover band “Basket of Deplorables” and a blues band “Oeddie Rex and the MoFo’s.)

My favorite whoopsie was an author in a tie-in novel for a 90s sf series got the atmosphere on Mars completely wrong and no one in the publishing or approval process caught it. They were embarrassed by it, but somewhat upset that no one caught it before it went to press.

Not being a weapons person, I always remember James D MacDonald’s advice when he was a Viable Paradise instructor: “Whenever you mention a specific gun name, it might aid you to use the world ‘modified’ – gives you some leeway with people who know guns very well and will let you know, often in a quite irritated manner, about any errors.”

I remember an instructor also saying that horses are similar – get something incorrect about horses and people will let you know. Not so sure the “modified” advice works there … but it is SFF, so maybe!


It’s always funny to me how worked up SF fans get about tiny errors like weapon safety details, but are happy to tolerate massive and glaring impossibilities when it comes to economics, supply chains, infrastructure, etc. Looking at you, sci-fi “classics”.

“Fleet of starships” pretty much mandates a slaveowning dictatorship ruling over at least one planetary system. You can handwave some of the physics away using magical technology, but there’s no working around market forces.

I don’t think that I have ever met a perfect book.
I do find it somewhat funny when people start talking about minor details in books.

As an avid kayaker I have found that most people that write about something happening with them it becomes obvious that they have never tried one.

Ain’t no pedantry like gun pedantry. Take your everyday, average pedantry, and make it ten times as tiresome. Your attention to detail is admirable, not that irking some of the people who would care about such a detail might be without its pleasures, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I once deliberately left a scientific error in a conversation between two people who should have known better, because 1) I thought the conversation was cute; 2) I thought that the character speaking might very well make that mistake, and 3) I also thought that given the circumstances the person they were talking to wouldn’t correct them.

Led directly to a two-star review by someone who also knew better and got kicked out of the story by it.

As a professional photographer for 25+ years, I alternately laugh and cringe as so much about photography on various tv shows and in various books. When I find one that gets it right, I love it. But most often I’m yelling at my partner “you can’t do that with that software” or “she can’t possibly hand hold that lens” or “that camera DOESN’T DO THAT!”

Good luck. A pre-emptive strike won’t work, John. Gun nuts will hound you even when you’re right.

When I was writing the official guides to The X-Files, I got the information on Mulder and Scully’s guns directly from the property master, Ken Hawryliw. In fact, while we were on the phone, he was in the prop trailer, standing over the open drawer that held their guns. He read off the information to me right there. I put it in the book. To this day, more than 25 years later, I still get email from fans who insist that I got it wrong, that Mulder and Scully were carrying some other kind of gun in Season 2 or whatever.

In my own work, I’ve gotten Amazon comments from gun enthusiasts whose only concern is a minor error in describing a gun. Trust me when I say that no amount of error correction will stave off those who insist that they’re right, no matter what.

John, you have struck a nerve with the Glock non-safety. A number of people have been shot by accident because of this. The little thingie on the trigger is not a safety. Maybe it prevents accidental firing when the gun is dropped?
A lot of gun makers have copied this feature because cops were forgetting to turn off safeties.
Modern gun usage prescribes that one does not put their finger on the trigger at all unless needing to shoot. Too many lethal oopsies.

FL Transplant: But what about the dogfighting scenes when Lt (JG) Topgun shot down six VietCong Su-7s in one Phantom II mission dogfighting with his internal 20mm cannon after he ran out of Phoenix missiles, flying continuously upside down for nearly four minutes? (More to the point, just how many factual errors can y’all spot in that sentence?) Sadly, that one almost made it to a cinema screen near you — one name was changed to protect the guilty.

John Day: Maybe he landed in Bloomington instead and had a really long ride-share? Might have been faster than the Parkway during rush hour!

I wrote technical documents including maintenance procedures for years and once, just to test the review process wrote:

“The following steps will require the use of a #2 Phillips screwdriver, a 1/2” open-end wrench and two beers.”

As far as I know the document is still in use today, 15 years later. :)

While use of ‘details’ is nice – ‘Glock’ instead of ‘pistol’ – if you’re not ‘up on’ those details it’s better to use generic terms. (jmo-ymmv)

re David H above – “Modern gun usage prescribes that one does not put their finger on the trigger at all unless needing to shoot.”

Yup. A firearms trainer I know likes to say ‘Keep your booger hook off the bang switch.’

For an entertaining in-depth look at typo chasing, read “A note on the text” in Lord of the Rings.

@FDChief, my S&W 686 doesn’t have any safety. Other than the usual really strong trigger pull of a revolver.

@FDChief: I don’t know what M1911 you’ve seen, but I’ve only seen 2 safeties on one, and only one of them is manual: the one by your thumb. The other safety is a grip safety, and generally considered to be “automatic”, as you disable it by simply gripping the pistol.

Glocks don’t have a manual safety because you’re supposed to follow the 4th rule of firearm safety: boogerhook off bang switch until you’re ready to fire. Though they do have a design misfeature: disassembly requires the trigger to be pulled to release tension on the striker spring.

@wiredog: really strong trigger weights aren’t safeties, and are part of the reason why the NYPD are such bad shots.

@Logophage — I know Amazon pushed out an update to the latest Safehold novel that fixed a calendar goof in the intro, it’s not impossible that Kindle versions of KPS might get a safety taken off their Glocks.

One reason I won’t even have a Glock — no external safety!!

My 1911 style Kimber pistol has 3 safeties, an external switch, a grip safety, and (3rd) you have to cock the hammer or advance the load by moving the whole slide back, which also cocks the hammer…

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