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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Torpoon  
  Clever portmanteau of "torpedo" and "harpoon", an underwater whaling craft.  

The inner catapult door closed behind Kenneth Torrance, and he slid into his torpoon. Twelve feet long, and resembling in miniature a dirigible, was this weapon that made practical an underwater whaling craft. The tapered stern bore long directional rudders, which curved round the squat high-speed propeller; its smooth flanks of burnished steel were marked only by the lines of the entrance port, which the torpooner now drew tight and locked. Twin eyes of light-beam projectors were set in the bow, which was cut also by a vision-plate of fused quartz and the nitro-shell gun's tube, successor to the gun-cast harpoon.

Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers. A harness was buckled all around him, to keep him in place. His gray eyes, level and sober, peered through the vision-plate at the outer catapult door.

Suddenly a spot of red light glowed in it; the door quivered, swung out. A black tide swirled into the chamber. There came the hiss of released air-pressure, and the slim undersea steed rocketed out into the exterior gloom, her light-beams flashing on and propeller settling into a blur of speed as she was flung.

Ken turned on her full twenty-four knots, zoomed above the dark bulk of the slower mother ship, whose light-beams flashed across him for a second, and then straightened out in a long, slight-angled dive after the great black bodies ahead.

Aware that some strange enemy was on their track, the killers had become panicky and were darting away at their full speed, which was only slightly under that of the torpoon's humming motors, and which at times even surpassed it. Ken saw that it looked like a long chase, and settled his lean body as comfortably as he could.


(The torpoon)

From Seed of the Arctic Ice, by H.G. Winter.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1939
Additional resources -

Compare to Tom Swift's jetmarine.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Seed of the Arctic Ice
  More Ideas and Technology by H.G. Winter
  Tech news articles related to Seed of the Arctic Ice
  Tech news articles related to works by H.G. Winter

Torpoon-related news articles:
  - Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon

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