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I've got a story I've started, and realized I have no explanation as to why the main character has a wearable flamethrower. Right now, I'm leaving it as 'He's a youtuber who makes stupid stuff so people will watch and give him money', but would like the explanation to be less unique to him so that I can later have him fight another guy with a wearable flamethrower in an epic boss fight carefully timed with some fast paced music.

The time is about twenty-thirty years ahead, a small mars colony and moon base, but no space travel beyond that. Technology has managed to advance a bit, and the world has degenerated a little bit, with the richer people looking kinda like the guys from WALL-E on AXIOM(fat people who sit in hover chairs watching funny cat videos all day), and lower classes doing a lot of dangerous jobs in unsafe conditions. So, no OSHA.

I can't think of anything off the top of my head that would require a wearable flamethrower, but let me know if you think if something.

EDIT- to avoid confusion, the character is on earth. not the mars/moon colony.

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    $\begingroup$ Elaborating a bit more on the context of your story could help us coming up with better justifications, right now my best justification would be "He's relatively paranoid and has played enough dead space to decide being trapped in a relatively isolated colony without something to dispatch of potential corpses and/or mutant zombies from outer space is a rather unwise choice, later meeting a nemesis who was just as paranoid as him but instead had played too many halo games to be willing to risk not having protection against a real flood outbreak". $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2020 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ The flamethrower keeps away those clever, hungry vampire bats during evening trolls. When a school or hospital or innocent family's home happens to be in the line of fire, that's just too bad. The boss fight can be against a similar stroller with similar indiscriminate use of firepower. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Aug 13, 2020 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ Mars/moon base may not be the best place for a flamethrower, although consuming oxygen may have something to do with it. You may need built-in oxidizer to drive the reaction. A plastics-rich environment makes this a really unpleasant weapon, but again, maybe this is why you have something like that. The moon/Mars won't have a source for propellant, either. Unless there are surprise petroleum reserves on Mars, and THAT would say all sorts of interesting things... $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 13, 2020 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ Does everybody walk around armed with guns and rifles and grenades? A flamethrower would probably be classified with these weapons today. Does the main character have some sort of license to carry such a weapon, or is he a criminal, or just paranoid, or maybe very forgetful? $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Aug 13, 2020 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ Just a little point, IRL it's usually not the rich people who are fat and watch videos all day ;) $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2020 at 17:15

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could it be that this is high SF, and social commentary?

gold desert eagle

(Picture from here.)

What possible use could a person have for a golden pistol that shoots bullets the size of a woman's thumb? There is no use, except the awesomeness. And they are sold out so awesomeness must be enough.

Plenty of people collect guns and are passionate about them. These guns are often totally impractical for any use which is part of the charm. I personally feel that guns only is too limiting and that the collection of lethal things should be expanded to include things like rocket launchers, plastic explosives, nerve gas and the like. That would be for people too nervous to collect venomous snakes and lion/tiger hybrids, and venomous snake/lion/tiger hybrids on 400 horsepower motorcycles.

In your world people collect lots of awesomely and pointlessly dangerous things, for the same reasons people do in real life. The flamethrower guys get into a fight because each one feels that the other flamethrower suit guy is a total poser and unworthy of his suit.

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    $\begingroup$ "Because it's awesome*" is probably the reason a well-known "Big Tech" entrepreneur has already sold out of actual flamethrowers in our actual reality. *More likely for memes and press coverage. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Aug 15, 2020 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ Also useless is putting a camouflage pattern on an object that goes to great lengths to be as conspicuous as possible. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2020 at 19:44
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Farmers

Farmers commonly use flame throwers for clearing fields and brush. they kill weeds and their seeds as well as pests.

tractor mounted flamethrowers even exist.

Forestry service

Forestry services often use flamethrowers for setting back fires, and clearing brush.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the real life answer. You may want to add in reasons for why fire, i.e. to prevent diseases or bugs from proliferating. Then it's easy to imagine the need for a character's flamethrower service if a sudden wave of new disease affects some key crop, i.e. corn. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2020 at 4:44
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    $\begingroup$ Flamethrowers for weed control are (or at least were) very common. My grandfather used one; personally I don't, as I have enough dangerous hobbies already... $\endgroup$
    – Dan W
    Aug 14, 2020 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ Although I think it should be said that there are flamethrowers and then there are flamethrowers. Ones for commercial uses tend to shoot flammable gas. Trigger off = fire off unless it caused a secondary fire. Ones for murder (military flamethrowers) shoot out streams of flammable liquid with the idea that you can get into nooks and also not just light things on fire but coat them in something that continues to burn. A brief blast by the first one will singe your hair but you'd live. A brief blast by the second one would be a bit of a problem. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Aug 14, 2020 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB true but fluid spraying ones do exist, the older the better. Not to mention the military gave farmers a lot of their old flamethrowers, since they have little use in combat anymore. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 16, 2020 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ @John Saves you from walking up to every weed $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 16, 2020 at 5:00
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Bees and wasps and dangerous insects. Flamethrowers are legal in many states in the United States specifically to allow people to defend themselves against Africanized honey bees and swarms of murder hornets. Having similar creatures that regularly attack people and can kill before proper authorities can arrive to protect you, then a wrist-mounted flamethrower could be standard to keep you alive.

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    $\begingroup$ A "risk-mounted flamethrower"... Did you mean "wrist?" $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Aug 15, 2020 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael Why not both ? $\endgroup$
    – MakorDal
    Aug 15, 2020 at 19:43
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The flamethrower isn't a purpose built flame-thrower, it's an oxy acetylene welder with a tweak to it's fuel / air mixture.

The character does maintenance or construction and needs to carry the welder around for its day job. They can twist a knob and make it act as a flamethrower.

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SPIDERS!

Hordes of space spiders can be very problematic. Their webs get everywhere, they keep eating citizens, it's an ongoing issue. Your character is part of a volunteer task force that goes around clearing out space spider webs (and space spiders themselves) to prevent them from overtaking the cities.

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He is a spaceport shipyard employee.

With the newly established interplanetary colonies, recurring supply and equipment shipments are sent to Mars, returning with scientific samples, data stores, and other items.

Upon arrival back to Earth, the vessels are immediately disinfected and heated in order to relax the metals and release the outer door seals. While larger transport vessels carrying larger machines and other equipment are disinfected via a large industrial system, smaller vessels are manually processed by the shipyard employees.

Each employee carries, among other things, a front-mounted heating device to perform manual disinfection and seal release, prepping the vessel for the appropriate logistics teams to empty its contents.

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    $\begingroup$ Start at 1 minute 25: youtu.be/UENRVfdnGxs $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 14, 2020 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea - perhaps the "flamethrower" has different settings: disinfectant flamethrower, scouring blowtorch for cleaning metal, plasma-cutter for opening sealed doors/bulkheads (e.g. from Vacuum Welding), welding torch for repairs, etc... $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2020 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan Hehe, I kind of hoped someone would connect the dots. That happens to be my all-time favorite movie. I almost said they need a flamethrower to remove potential parasites but I figured that'd be way too on the nose. $\endgroup$ Aug 15, 2020 at 4:14
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Flamethrowers indoors seem to fall well into the "Battlefield Control" section of a repertoire. Our Youtube Miscreant could frequently be at odds with law enforcement and "flamin' up a doorway" is a good way to get time to flee.

Alternatively, it could be used to set off fire suppression systems. Maybe the surveillance camera's automatically close off so the fire suppression system doesn't damage them? It would allow him to have a good chance of escape as well.

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I'm not sure whether you need a different explanation than "crazy youtuber" ... just imagine e.g. Colin Furze and Mark Rober becoming mortal enemies at some point.

The only problem you'd have to solve would then be "why do they show up to the big final fight carrying both only a flamethrower?" ... but I imagine that you could pitch them against each other or others in some smaller skirmishes before, exhausting all their better suited crazy creations.

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Going a completely different direction, since you mentioned the final fight being "carefully timed with some fast paced music"... Performance art.

The hero and villain don't wear flamethrowers (primarily) as weapons, but rather to use in their fire-dancing or fire-acrobatic performances.

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Insect swarms

A more extreme case of those sprays that kills bugs. But if you are dealing with large insects that can cause damage to humans then a more offensive and cooler approach would be to simply burn it. Most anti bugs measures would take time. But on your planet those things can swarm and kill you right away, so you clear them with FIRE!

Fauna

You know how explorers going into the jungle carry a machete? Same thing. Only the new fauna is dense or hostile or dangerous in general that you are required to constantly clear it in order to move or go outside.

Supernatural creatures

Just here me out. In many horror stories demons or ghost are repelled by fire. So. Yeah.

Ice creatures

Evil snowmen, snow trolls, snow tigers, snow whatever. Here they are very intolerant to heat so it was discovered that burning them alive gets you a major advantage. Even spraying the area with fire will keep them away and gives you enough time to escape.

accelerated snow

I know it sounds weird. But imagine living in a freezer that freezes, the new ones don't but the older ones used to make literal ice, way faster than you can do what you want. For example the tunnel to school is made of this ice but the government is keeping it open with their tech. However natural snow tunnels or wild snow in general are so fast growing that you need to melt it constantly to go have a hike or something.

Obviously the person using a flamethrower in most of these cases needs to be wearing some sort of armor. Maybe not power armor levels but at least anti fire and with some oxygen tank or good filtering or something.

All this is somewhat unrealistic but that never stopped stories or humans. It's like fishing with explosives, there is no kill like over kill.

And you already established that he likes to do thing for the lulz so it makes perfect sense.

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Fire burns oxygen. This is deadly in enclosed habitats.

Simply put, if you want to kill everyone in an enclosed space habitat with minimal risk to yourself, you can just walk in through the airlock, secure all the space suits, and then open up with a flamethrower to burn up all the oxygen inside it, causing your enemies to suffocate to death. No for risky room-by-room breaches and urban combat, as long as you're willing to deal with the resulting civilian casualties.

Flamethrowers were actually used for exactly this purpose in WW2, in order to kill Japanese troops hiding inside underground bunkers by burning away all of their oxygen.

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Main thing: this is the future. People don't carry flamethrowers in 2020, but clearly they need them in the future to deal with some particular problem.

Bugs!

Genetically modified, natural mutants or chemically-caused disaster? Response to climate change? Who knows? (You do, you're writing the story).

Biting, stinging, flesh-burrowing, toxin-excreting, whatever they do you don't want to get close to them.

Whatever their origin, swarms of bugs are a big issue in 2050. Like bees, they swarm around a queen when they settle on a surface. Unlike bees, they do this just before they attack a human.

If you are quick you can burn off the whole lot of them in one go. Otherwise you've got thousands buzzing around and you have to get them one by one.

A flamethrower is therefore as essential as bear repellent when you're in the great outdoors in areas that harbor these critters.

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    $\begingroup$ So you're describing an Australian, after some decades of slightly-accelerated evolution on the part of the local flora/fauna ? $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Aug 16, 2020 at 0:53
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To add to Bewilderer's answer, Tyler Mc's answer and Seallussus's answer: there is already some literature on that.

Starcraft is a series of Real Time Strategy games by Blizzard, where humanity has to deal with, among other things, giant interstellar insects. Among the weapons designed to deal with such a threat is the Firebat suit.

The Firebat suit from the Starcraft series of games

-Need a light?
Firebat unit, when you click on him.

The whole thing is supported (and also lends support to) the second most awesome TV Trope ever:

When Prometheus handed Homo sapiens the gift of fire, he did not just give humanity the light of science, reason, progress, invention, technology, and ergo the power to rival God, but also the means to dispatch just about any monster imaginable.

P.s.: I'm not a pyro. I can stop burning stuff whenever I want.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thx for the starcraft reference, been a while since i played. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2020 at 17:44
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His job is to kill Murder Hornets? seems like a plausible reason, In 30 years? they'll probably be everywhere, and they already use flamethrowers to kill them in China. (at least sometimes they do)

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How about instead of being a flamethrower, it's hair spray and a lighter?

Maybe it's a music and club scene YouTuber with a Neo-Rockabilly style, and they always have their trusty, vintage Zippo and a made-from-future-materials, 15 lb can of hairspray to keep their pompadour in perfect shape.

Maybe it's a fashion YouTuber who always has a designer bag full of cans of their new, SuperMax Hold HairLock (TM), both for their own constant use, often conveniently in front of cameras, and a bunch of smaller, trial-sized cans that they normally give away... but that can also be punctured with a nail file and used as improvised grenades during your final fight.

Maybe they're a YouTuber who's secretly depressed and addicted to huffing fumes, and hair spray is something they can always carry on them without raising any suspicion.

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They are worried about kidnapping

After everyone decided (carjacking) was too big a (risk) they would instead try to kidnap people (and steal their car keys). Thus people took the flamethrowers from their cars and attached them to themselves as a means of protection.

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30 years is probably a bit too soon for "nanobot swarms" but in general, flamethrowers are excellent against diffuse threats such as swarms of tiny machines, aeresolized diseases, knockout spray, etc. Maybe, you can use a flamethrower to burn away physical "tracking cookies" which are in the form of tiny RFID chips that advertisers spray on people or something when they go shopping.

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Ok, you say: "I have no explanation as to why the main character has a wearable flamethrower"

Having an "wearable flamethrower" does not mean he makes use of it all time, I suppose.

Do you only want an explanation why he has a "wearable flamethrower" ?

Having an "wearable flamethrower" is not a new idea, you can see. Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_in_Hollywood features an actor who owns an working flamethrower. It was a prop into one of his old movies.

Well, a good justification (not comedy thing) to some one has a very singular piece of hardware is difficult.

My bet is: He/she inherits it :) "An elegant weapon... for a more civilized age"

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ElegantWeaponForAMoreCivilizedAge

A flamethrower is a dueling weapon, that simple.

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