Okay, this is just fascinating.
It seems that one of Patricia Briggs’ readers has embarked upon a quest for silver bullets. I came at that series by way of the third chapter, “Lone Ranger, Go Away,” which is a reprint of a 1964 Gun World article detailing previous efforts to produce and test-fire such rounds. That part (which I found via Making Light) is funny enough, but the rest of the series is chock-full of ballistic geekery, of a sort that every werewolf-novel-writing author should read.
And not just them, either. I have no intention of writing about lycanthropes, but I learned from the introduction that three hundred years ago, silver didn’t generally tarnish like it does today. Why? Because the Industrial Revolution hadn’t yet pumped large amounts of sulfur into the atmosphere. If you left a silver object sitting on a shelf for ten years, it would still be shiny when you came back — which made it just about as magical-seeming as gold. And if you’ve come across references to silver cups or knives being used to detect poison, it’s because organic poisons often contain enough sulfur to tarnish the dishware, creating a seemingly supernatural ability to detect their presence.
Of course, if I wrote a story with a silver object that didn’t tarnish over time, readers would think I was doing it wrong. The perils of too much research . . . .
Anyway, if you’ve ever thought about writing a werewolf book, or you like reading them, check the articles out. Turns out the “silver bullet” thing is a lot more difficult than advertised — but out of such obstacles are more interesting stories made.