"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
Compare to the pain box from Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune. For an earlier use of the same idea, see also the pain-producer from Edmund Hamilton's 1928 novel Crashing Suns, as well as the pain canopy from Fritz Lieber's 1943 novel Gather Darkness.
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