Recently I was lucky enough to interview the very talented Django Wexler about his short story ‘The Guns of the Wastes’. It’s part of the military fantasy anthology Operation Arcana, edited by John Joseph Adams.
In this “mission debrief” Django Wexler talks to Georgina Kamsika about his Operation Arcana story “The Guns of the Wastes”…
Georgina Kamsika: Right at the beginning of ‘The Guns of the Wastes’ is an intricately described vehicle. You later introduce other, larger versions. I really loved your descriptions of them. What came first, the story idea of the ongoing war, or the idea of the landships cruising the wastes?
Django Wexler: This time it was the notion of the landships. A lot of my military fantasy is inspired by some particular period or conflict in history, and I often try to recreate something with a similar dynamic in an unexpected setting. In this case, I was reading about WWI naval combat and trying to figure out a neat way to do get a similar sort of feel, and started thinking about landships. The actual design of them came from spending a little while trying to figure out how such a thing could actually work. I don’t claim they’re scientifically plausible, but they have enough of a veneer of reasonableness to chalk up the rest to “steampunk magic”.
Originally I was going to have them fighting each other, but they seemed like impractical weapons for that purpose. I decided the best reason to have a landship – essentially a mobile gun platform – was when you were fighting an enemy who would board and overwhelm you if you stood still, and that gave us the sraa. The ships were developed to keep their distance from sraa swarms while blowing them apart, after conventional fortifications proved inadequate.