Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"...there's a great affinity between writing poetry and SF."
- Dan Simmons

Bethé blasters  
  Powerful enough to destroy a flying city.  

The cities hung poised tensely in their orbits. For seconds, nothing happened.
Then pear-shaped, bumpy police battleships began springing out of nothingness around the jungle. Almost instantly, four cities raved into boiling clouds of gas.
The Dinwiddie pickup in the proxy backed itself hurriedly down the intensity scale until it could see again through the glare. The cities were still hanging there, seemingly stunned—as was Amalfi, for he had not imagined that Earth could have come to such a pass. Only an ideal combination of guilt and savagery could have produced so murderous a response; but evidently the president and MacMillan made up between them the necessary combination …
Click.
“Fight!” the King’s voice roared. “Fight, you lunkheads! They’re going to wipe us out! Fight!”
Another city went up. The cops were using Bethé blasters; the Dinwiddie circuit, stopped down to accommodate the hydrogen-helium explosions, could not pick up the pale guide beams of the weapons; it would have been decidedly difficult to follow the King’s order effectively.
But the city of Buda-Pesht was already sweeping forward out of the head of the cone, arcing toward Earth. It spat murder back at the police ships, and actually caught one. The mass of incandescent, melting metal appeared as a dim blob in Amalfi’s helmet, then faded out again. A few cities followed the King; then a larger number; and then, suddenly, a great wave.
Click.
“MacMillan, stop them! I’ll have you shot! They’re going to invade—”
New police craft sprang into being every second. A haze gradually began to define the area of the Okie encampment: a planetary nebula of gas molecules, dust, and condensations of metal and water vapor. Through it the Bethé guide beams played, just on the edge of visibility now, but the sun, too, was acting on the cloud, and the whole mass was beginning to re-radiate, casting a deepening luminous veil over the whole scene, about which the Dinwiddie circuit could do very little. The whole spectacle reminded Amalfi of NGC 1435 in Taurus, with exploding cities substituting novas for the Pleiades.
But there were more novas than the cities could account for, novas outside the cone of the encampment. The police craft, Amalfi noted with amazement, were beginning to burst almost as fast as they appeared. The swarming, disorganized cities were fighting back; but their inherent inefficiency as fighting machines ruled them out as the prime causes of such heavy police losses. Something else, something new was happening—something utterly deadly was loose among the cops …
From Cities in Flight, by James Blish.
Published by Avon in 1957
Additional resources -

The blaster used a guide beam to first illuminate the target:

Then there was nothing left but the skeleton of the city, glowing whitely, evaporating in the blackness. The pale, innocent light of the guide beam for a Bethé blaster played over it, but it was still impossible to see who was wielding the weapon.

Compare to the Disruptor Tube (Disruptor Ray) from The Emperor of the Stars (1931) by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat), the de-atomizing ray from Crashing Suns (1928) by Edmond Hamilton, the annihilator beam from Conquest of Gola (1931) by L.F. Stone, the Vortex Gun from One Against the Legion (1939) by Jack Williamson.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Cities in Flight
  More Ideas and Technology by James Blish
  Tech news articles related to Cities in Flight
  Tech news articles related to works by James Blish

Articles related to Weapon
SPECTER Electroshock Round Fireable From Shotgun
Electric Lasso Gives Police Options
R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
CAV-X Supercavitating Ammo Deadly Underwater

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Solar Powered Robot Cleans Up Solar Panels For Free
'... with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length of Rama's six artificial suns.'

Spot Arm From Boston Dynamics Picks Up Like Heinlein's Hired Girl Robot
'Anything larger than a BB shot it picked up and placed in a tray on its upper surface...'

Electric Vehicle Prices Will Drop To $2,890
'the human seats took up two-thirds of the room in each'

TIGER Ultimate Mobility Vehicle From Hyundai
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs...'

Drones Communicate With Each Other Using Quantum Encryption
'the curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits...'

Space Construction Tools For Large Structures By OAC
'Mass-produced in the orbiting factories...'

SpinCare Electrospins And Shoots Wound Dressing
'Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm...'

Tesla Model S And X Moves Toward KITT Knight Rider Styling
Now, that was a Pontiac Trans Am with some real style.

Sophia Robots By The Thousands
'There is a built-in microphone that hears everything you say, and an electric brain that selects a suitable answer.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.