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"Science fiction operates a little bit like science itself, in principle. You've got thousands of people exploring ideas, putting forth their own hypotheses. Most of them are dead wrong; a few stand the test of time; everything looks kind of quaint in hind"
- Peter Watts

Beam-Powered Propulsion  
  Using a powerful energy source as motive power for a projectile.  

Then Bill, with his eye at a telescope, saw a little spark of purple light appear beside the blue globe. A tiny, bright point of violet-red fire, with a white line running from it, back to the center of the sphere. The purple spark grew, the white line lengthened. Abruptly, the newspaperman realized that the purple was an object hurtling toward him with incredible speed.

Even as the realization burst upon him, the spark became visible as a little red-blue sphere, brightly luminous. A white beam shone behind it, seemed to push it with ever-increasing velocity. The purple globe shot past, vanished. The white ray snapped out...

"A solid projectile !" Brand cried. "And driven on the positive ray! Our experts have tried it, but the ray always exploded the shell..."

From The Prince of Space, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare to the Ships Propelled By Light Pressure from The Comet Doom (1927) by Edmond Hamilton.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Prince of Space
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Williamson
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  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Williamson

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