1. I wrote a short story in which the rebels in a society find someone with a high security code and are able to get into the computer systems for the spaceships of the defending national armies. They disable their weapons and threaten to turn off life support if the government forces do not surrender. The rebels win without killing anyone.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Sure, disabling an enemy’s weapons if possible is a way to avoid killing them. Thanks for bringing that up!

  2. Jay DiNitto says:

    In my one book, the society was heavy with open carry, so there were a lot of rules of courtesy and protocol around how firearms were used and presented. The protag used a cane in one scene because she wanted the perp alive and unharmed, and she carried the cane as an alternative weapon in general since she couldn’t draw her gun easily (she had to wear a niqab/burka in certain parts of the city).

    • Travis Perry says:

      Yeah, clearly when using hand-carried weapons as opposed to beam weapons or rays, choosing not to kill is an entirely different matter than with any kind of gun with the potential to kill. Though instead of using a cane, I suppose you could turn a gun around and pistol-whip someone…

  3. My WIP requires a scenario where “non-lethal force” proves lethal because of circumstances. I’m torn between the “Hamlet Reversal” (the bad guy’s shock club accidentally gets switched into the good guy’s hand) and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” kind of outside intervention with an AI hacking the kill switch.

    I suppose the best solution is to write it both ways!

  4. Jes Drew says:

    In my Kristian Clark series, thd characters use a gun that freezes a person in a second of time to various degrees.

  5. I heard about the same thing with tranquilizer darts, as far as experts being needed to administer them correctly. I think I heard that they were potentially deadly for reptiles as well, or at least back then, though I don’t remember for sure.

    And yeah, one challenge I hear about with the cryogenic freezing is the fact that water expands, so the water in our bodies would freeze, expand and destroy our cells and organs and such.

    In a fictional world, I like the idea of authors exploring the downsides of even ‘non lethal’ weapons. It shows that everything can have consequences, and that we need to be mindful of that. Like, technically a stun set phaser from Star Trek could be lethal, considering the fact that stunned people can’t defend themselves.

    Some interesting fictional examples of non lethal weapons was how magic was used in Wings Of Fire. It’s actually very insidious, since an Animus dragon can pretty much order anything to happen. Like, one dragon ordered another to follow every one of his orders. Eventually, he ordered that dragon to committ suicide. Animus power was used to a good end later, though. The main chars used it to stop a battle by projecting the feelings and thoughts of the other side into the fighter’s minds. Basically, it forced the fighters to understand the other side so they would have empathy and stop wanting to kill each other.

    And, this isn’t ideal at all, but some of my stories(especially the low tech ones revolving around animal chars) have instances where the chars choose to mutilate an opponent rather than kill them. Like, damaging a muscle in the opponent’s leg to keep then from running, or blinding them so that they would have a hard time attacking effectively. That kind of thing would be used in a lot of instances. Like blinding someone in place of giving them a death sentence.

    There’s at least one story I’m writing that indicates potential issues that can come with someone collapsing as they are getting knocked out. It’s a Naruto fanfic, an AU where Itachi and his wife are sortofish prisoners in Konoha. Itachi’s wife sort of befriends this other lady, but Itachi and his wife know that that woman partially befriended them so she could secretly guard them. In this story, Itachi is still a good person, but the way he grew up makes him prioritize his immediate family over everyone else. There comes a point where he and his wife need to run, before they get killed. He rushes home, and since his first priority is taking his family and leaving, he knocks out the other woman without a thought before rushing to his wife. He does this partially because he knows that that woman could try to stop them, but after knocking her out he hears her fall and realizes she could have hit her head. He sort of regrets it, but, again, he’s more concerned about getting his family to safety.

    Mentioning the potential consequences of what can happen when someone is knocked out, falls, etc. is important, since it is a risk people don’t normally think about. Of course, fiction also tends to talk about knocking people out with blows to the head, which could probably be deadly if the person is hit hard enough/knocked out too long.

    • Leanna says:

      Yeah the whole “knocking people out instead of killing them” bothers me frequently in fiction because it is not that simple in real life. If the person is unconscious for any useful length of time then they are going to have suffered brain damage. It’s not a magic solution unless it is actually magic. 😉

  6. notleia says:

    Rando tangent leaping off anesthetics: I read an article exploring the possibilities of using ideas from MacGuyver medicine used in poor countries to reduce healthcare costs. Like, instead of using anesthetics that require medical degrees to use and constant monitoring during surgery (or else they may die), give ’em ketamine, which has fewer dangers and is muy cheapo. Or using regular but sterilized hardware drills in surgery instead of specialized and super expensive medical drills.

    MacGuyver medicine could be totally relevant to shooty adventure stories.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Interesting tangent. Yeah, ketamine is cheaper I think, but you’d still want a pro administering it.

      And surgical instruments cost a ton because of laws in advanced countries of the West and East requiring medical equipment to have very specific and exacting technical specifications (for patient safety).

      Medical stuff can in fact be manufactured far more cheaply and in fact already is. Hospitals in Africa and in places like Afghanistan buy medical equipment from Alibaba that’s made in China (or maybe Vietnam), which costs way leas than Japanese, European, or US made medical equipment. (I actually helped Afghans and Africans with such purchases once upon a time.)

  7. What the heck kind of psycho can ignore pepper spray? I’ve had it in my eyes. It’s horrific. Great article, by the way… 🙂

    • Travis Perry says:

      Pepper spray in reality triggers something like an allergic reaction–an allergy to the active ingredient that almost all humans share. But a very small fraction of people are simply not affected.

      Other people ARE affected and have the burning sensation in skin and eyes but are so wacked out on drugs (or psychotic) they can keep fighting in spite of the pain.

  8. kshitij says:

    thanks for the information

  9. Kirsty says:

    So cryogenically freezing people is basically like freezing lettuce.

    In Stargate they have Zat guns – the first shots stuns, the second shot kills, and the third shot makes the victim disappear (they quietly dropped the last one after a while, probably because it was so ridiculous).

What do you think?