"Science and science fiction, how do you even distinguish the two?"
This three-part serial was originally published in 1943. In the story, the device is presented as being a small rod, like a flashlight, which projects an energy beam.
Sure, go ahead and compare it to the lightsaber from Star Wars and the rod from Fritz Leiber's 1943 novel Gather, Darkness!. See also the entry for flashlight laser, which is essentially an indefinitely long light saber, from Ringworld, by Larry Niven. Niven mentions "light swords" in the book. See also the entry for Force-Field Penknife, from Foundation by Isaac Asimov.
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