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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

Needle Pipe  
  A device that could project slivers of metal at near light speed.  

The electronic needle pipe was a foot-long metallic pipe with a diameter the size of a small human finger. It had a large, round metallic base, to be operated with two hands.

It projected a very small stream of electrons, which carried with them a tiny, sharp-pointed fragment of metal, like a needle. But when it struck it solidified.

There was a range finder for aiming, and a device for curving the electronic stream, so that the beam could be sent around almost any degree of curvature.

From Beyond the Stars, by Ray Cummings.
Published by Ace in 1928
Additional resources -

David Gerrold, in his War Against the Chtorr novels of the 1980's, wrote about something very similar to this. It was a gun that sprayed (I think electromagnetically) thousands of stainless steel needles per minute. I can't find the reference.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Beyond the Stars
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Cummings
  Tech news articles related to Beyond the Stars
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Cummings

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