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"There's a tendency to think that maybe if we can just throw enough hardware at the AI problem, then evolution can take care of the rest. Certainly that's how God went about making us."
- Rudy Rucker

Sun-Tube  
  A slicing ray of death!  

A gray, three-fingered hand held an angled tube significantly. A lens gleamed transparent in the sunlight from the open end...

The angled tube came up with the swiftness of light. Grim Morgan cried out sharply, lunged out of his seat. Hilary tore at his gun, knowing sickeningly that the draw would be slower than the action of the strange weapon in the guard's hand. There was a sneer on the monster as he pressed something on the tube...

A blinding beam flashed out of the orifice, sheared through Peabody's middle as though he were cut cleanly in half with a gigantic knife. He toppled in two sections to the floor of the conveyor...


(Sun-Tube from 'Slaves of Mercury' by Nat Schachner)

From Slaves of Mercury, by Nat Schachner.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1932
Additional resources -

Here are a few excerpts:

“What are those round glass disks stretched along the hull in a double row?” he asked. “They look like burning glasses.”
“That’s just what they are,” said Grim sadly. “The top row are sun-lenses, that throw a terrible ray for a distance of two to three hundred feet. Melts everything in its path — men, trees, rocks even. You saw one in action in the sun-tube with which poor old Peabody was cut in half...

There were about a dozen Mercutians in the long laboratory, and each had a sun-tube dangling from his belt, ready at hand...

The Mercutians were not cowards. At the moment of the diversion, every one of them had gone for his sun-tube. A flame streaked close to Hilary’s head, shivered the opposite wall into molten fragments...

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Slaves of Mercury
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner
  Tech news articles related to Slaves of Mercury
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner

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