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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Pencil Beam  
  A thin tube-like laser beam weapon.  

Pitt slid into his car, and snapping on the dashboard mike, called his highest ranking superior, the South Ameri­can Director. They were moving fast, now, filling up the street and surging silently toward him. They had, no doubt, identified him by his T-class clothes-white shirt and tie, gray suit, felt hat. Brief case. The shine of his black shoes. The pencil beam gleaming in the breast pocket of his coat. He undipped the gold tube and held it ready. "Emer­gency," he said...

The car tipped ominously; they were lifting it up on one side, trying to overturn it. Both back windows were out. A man's hand reached for the door release.

Pitt burned the hand to ash with his pencil beam. The stump frantically withdrew. "I got one."

"If you could scan some of them for us ..."

More hands appeared. The interior of the car was swel­tering; the heat drill was almost through. "I hate to do this." Pitt turned his pencil beam on his brief case until there was nothing left. Hastily, he dissolved the contents of his pockets, everything in the glove compartment, his iden­tification papers, and finally he burned his wallet...

From Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Ace Books in 1960
Additional resources -

Compare to the pencil heat ray from Brigands of the Moon (1930), by Ray Cummings, the force-field penknife from Isaac Asimov's 1951 novel Foundation and the force pencil from Gather Darkness (1943) by Fritz Lieber.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Vulcan's Hammer
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