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Celebrating the Sci-fi Ray Gun 158

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the blaster-by-yer-side dept.
brumgrunt submitted the latest Den of Geek compilation story: this week it's the the science fiction ray guns. From Han Solo's blaster to the Forbidden Planet, there's a lot of nostalgia to get your pew pew out.
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Celebrating the Sci-fi Ray Gun

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  • DL-44 Mauser? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by meburke (736645) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:20PM (#36156858)

    I think the Han solo weapon looks more like a mauser than a Luger.

    • Re:DL-44 Mauser? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:24PM (#36156908)
      Yep, it's based on the Mauser C-96. http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg/de/mauser-c-96-e.html [world.guns.ru]
      • by Nidi62 (1525137)
        And sorry, to reply to myself, but I think the XZ-38 looks nothing like the Luger. http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg/de/luger-parabellum-e.html [world.guns.ru]
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        Yup, C96 broomhandle

        And of course the stargate guns are based on the FN P-90 (full auto) or PS-90 (semi only).

        • So are many of the guns in Doctor Who. The ones used in The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit are barebones P90s, the ones in The Doctor's Daughter have a small flamethrower-like attachment to generate muzzle flash.
          Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

          • I believe I may have seen once in a special feature on a Stargate DVD that they are convenient in how they fire. The casings fall straight down as opposed to off to the side. If they go to the side the other actors can be hit with them and I guess that just doesn't look as good.
            • I believe I may have seen once in a special feature on a Stargate DVD that they are convenient in how they fire. The casings fall straight down as opposed to off to the side. If they go to the side the other actors can be hit with them and I guess that just doesn't look as good.

              That was pretty much it. Without the shell casings flying at their faces, they could stand the actors closer to one another, which is helpful for framing shots for television.

          • Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

            Recognizably different + highly plausible.

            It is different from designs people are familiar with yet it represents a highly plausible next generation design. For example a horizontal magazine in-line with the sights allows a user to easily see how many rounds are available. A horizontal magazine also allows the user to get closer to the ground. A vertical magazine sticking out the bottom unnecessarily raises the weapon and the users head, making the head a better target for an opponent. This limits the ca

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

            Because, it's popular among military and police institutions. If you're gonna pick a small, close-quarters weapon with selectable firing rate ... go with what the real guys are using.

            Before the P-90, you saw an awful lot of Heckler & Koch models like the MP5 -- because, they already look bad-ass and don't need to be tarted up.

            It's hard to "invent" a fictional design better than what you know the tactical guys are using -- and if you have video of how they c

            • by wagnerrp (1305589)

              A P90 is a weapon that you can pretty much look at, and understand that it's intended for close quarter combat, and not fancy long-distance competition shooting. It's a very business-like beast.

              Except it is a bullpulp design, incorporating a 10.4" long barrel, much longer than most comparable submachineguns. That gives it significantly higher muzzle velocity and range than most traditional submachineguns.

          • by i.r.id10t (595143)

            Must be the new shows - all the Dr Who I watched (first thru 5th doctor) all the military units were on loan from the Brits so they all toted the FN-FAL/L1A1

          • by mjwx (966435)

            So are many of the guns in Doctor Who. The ones used in The Impossible Planet/Satan Pit are barebones P90s, the ones in The Doctor's Daughter have a small flamethrower-like attachment to generate muzzle flash.
            Why is the P90 so popular with sci-fi writers?

            Conspiracy answer: FN are paying them to feature the weapons in their shows. This is why the P90 stopped being used in seasons 9 and 10 of SG1, HK made them a better offer so the writers switched to MP7's and G36's.

            Serious answer: because they just look cool and futuristic... and it's cheaper to get an off the shelf gun and paint it rather then build an entirely new prop.

        • by Nidi62 (1525137)
          And to top it all off, the blaster rifle carried by Chewbacca on the Death Star is essentially an MG-42 and the stormtrooper blasters were modified Sterling submachine guns http://world.guns.ru/smg/brit/sterling-l2-l34-e.html [world.guns.ru] , completely down to the folding stock. The Rebel rifles from Episode 4 look to be based off STG-44s. And the rebel blaster pistols look similar to the Nambu type 14 or the Roth 1907.
      • by blair1q (305137)

        "Needs more mustard."
        -Mike "Don't call him Mickey" Mauser

    • It's light. Handle's adjustable for easy carrying, good for righties and lefties. Breaks down into four parts, undetectable by x-ray, ideal for quick, discreet interventions. A word on firepower. Titanium recharger, three thousand round clip with bursts of three to three hundred, and with the Replay button - another Zorg invention - it's even easier.

      • by lennier (44736)

        A real warrior, however, would have asked about the little red button on the side.

  • by rishistar (662278) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:22PM (#36156884) Homepage
    Can't find the original article but I recall reading the BSG creators did feasibility studies on bullets or rayguns for the series and came up with laser powered handguns just not being as effective as bullets.
    • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:25PM (#36156918)

      How would one conduct such feasibility studies? I'm guessing it starts with stocking up on cheetos and jolt, calling a pizza joint, making sure Wikipedia isn't down...

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        You mentioned a joint, but forgot to insert it properly into your theory.

    • I really liked Mass Effect's approach of basically what amounts to grains of sand as bullets moving at near light speed.
      • I doubt those would get much past the end of the barrel, though. Wind resistance is worse than v^2 at those speeds...

        • Rather than wind resistance, friction heat would probably eat those up. With unpleasant effects for the shooter. Nice little plasma cloud in the barrel already...
        • Probably shaped to supercavitate.
      • Hey, I just used a Mass Effect reference (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p77XnhzJz7g) in another discussion, although that pertained to why you need to aim properly at those energies.
        Maybe not grains of sand, but a 20kg steel slug sure packs a punch. I also used the idea in my thesis as an orbital bombardment system: 20 tons of iron dropped from 20,350 km, impacting with 1/500 the energy of a tactical nuke. Sure, a lot less, but clean and a darn sight cheaper in the long run to maintain then a nuke...

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Maybe not grains of sand, but a 20kg steel slug sure packs a punch. I also used the idea in my thesis as an orbital bombardment system:

          Ummmm ... where does one write a thesis on orbital bombardment and in what discipline of study?

          Besides, I should think getting your 20 tons of iron into orbit and aiming it so it lands where you intended. Hell ... I should think a rail gun would be more feasible than getting multiple 'rounds' of 20 tons of iron up into space. :-P

          • Not exactly in orbital bombardment, the full title was "Mining the Moon? - Dilemmas of Space Law". One of the topics explored was the use of space for warfare, and inside this, I showed that even the Shuttle can (could, by now...) carry a requisite satellite into orbit: it has a lifting capacity of 22 tons of cargo, a 20 ton projectile (ten meters long, half a meter radius cone) is well inside this limit, even if I'm generous with the support structure.
            Ideally, the satellite needs no maneuvering, nor targeting, the only thing it needs to do is house the round, then drop it when ground control tells it to. It may include a large capacitor bank and a railgun assembly to give it more punch (since it fires only once anyway, rail erosion can be ignored), and maybe some additional processing power to select targets for itself, and maybe maneuvering capacity to change orbits. The strike is the ultimate tactical weapon: fully anonymous (the course cannot be traced back to a launch point, unlike a ballistic missile), devastating, undetectable and indefatigable (the launch generates no observable signature and the round descends too fast to even come up on radar before it's too late to do anything about it. Not quite relativistic, but taking into account today's reaction times for weapons, it's like "By the time you see it coming, it's already too late".), and ultimately targetable (with the proper inclination, it will eventually fly over all points of the planet. At this point, it's just choosing the time of release to hit any nation you want).

            It can also be aimed precisely, though I only did rough mock-ups in Satellite ToolKit, but those indicated that the descent path is roughly like the cot(x) function, and the ground path is predictable at any latitude, so it can theoretically be aimed with pinpoint precision, discounting signal lag.

            • Ideally, the satellite needs no maneuvering, nor targeting, the only thing it needs to do is house the round, then drop it when ground control tells it to.

              Someone needs a lesson in Newtonian physics. Being in orbit is not like Wylie E. Coyote where you can just magically stop where you are and fall straight down. You have to precisely slow down using rockets, just enough so that your orbit shifts you into the atmosphere so that the drag can decelerate you down the rest of the way right where you want to end

              • Except if you give it's velocity a downward component in addition to its tangential component (let's call that one lateral). In that case, it goes straight into the atmosphere at which point the lateral component is dissipated or brought under control via friction/steering. Like I said at the end, I did some rough simulations in STK (before the trial expired), and found it feasible...

            • by lennier (44736)

              Not exactly in orbital bombardment, the full title was "Mining the Moon? - Dilemmas of Space Law". One of the topics explored was the use of space for warfare

              You've already checked out Atomic Rockets [projectrho.com] and Rocketpunk Manifesto [rocketpunk-manifesto.com], I presume?

          • Ah, "Rods from God"; concept's been around for decades. If I had to take a stab at it, I'd guess Aerospace Engineering or Physics student might write it up as a thesis. 20 tons is for the strategic option; you get something close to a nuclear explosion from it. You wouldn't need or want many of 'em. By way of comparison, the Hubble weighs over 10 tons. You could 20 kg ones to kill tanks fairly effectively.

            • Can't be arsed to do the math right now, but 20 kg for a tank killer seems like pretty much overkill at first glance. Kinda depends how much mass you ablate on the way down, of course. 20 kg arriving at the tank - just from intuition, I guess that vaporizing the tank and a good part of its surroundings would indeed count as "fairly effective". Feel free to correct me if you got the correct numbers, just doing seat of the pants estimates here.
              • Let me type up the maths for a 20t mass, I've got my notes right here:
                v = sqrt(2 x 20,350,000m x 9.81m/s^2) = ~1.998x10^4m/s (assuming no drag and no pre-acceleration, just a simple drop)
                E = (20,000kg x (1.998x10^4m/s)^2)/2 = ~3.993x10^12J = ~953.4t TNT equivalent.
                20kg would get you about a ton of TNT equivalent. "Fairly Effective" indeed...

                Sure, projectile profile means this is going to go deep rather than wide, and the transit time is on the order of tens of minutes, but even so, it's not so much a tank-b

            • The title was "Dilemmas of Space Law", I'm an international relations student. :)
              And yes, Rods from God is mentioned explicitly as the title of this chapter "Rods from God and Crowbars - Striking from Orbit" (translated from Hungarian). The name I gave to this particular system was Crowbar, admittedly based on the webcomic UserFriendly, since that's where I saw it called such, and took a liking to the name. In the thesis, I explain the name as an analogue for the method: "[...]on a smaller scale, it's the e

              • by lennier (44736)

                I'm an international relations student. :) And yes, Rods from God is mentioned explicitly as the title of this chapter "Rods from God and Crowbars - Striking from Orbit"

                Ah Gordon, I see you've chhhanged your majjjjjor. Are you certain this decision will have no unforessssseen consssssequencessss?

            • by lennier (44736)

              20 tons is for the strategic option; you get something close to a nuclear explosion from it. You wouldn't need or want many of 'em. By way of comparison, the Hubble weighs over 10 tons.

              Hubble, eh?

              Just out of curiosity, how much propellant is left in the Hubble fuel tanks and how well firewalled are its attitude control uplink stations? Also, do we know if anyone in Anonymous works at NASA and has access to Stuxnet source code?

              Hmm? Oh, no reason.

          • Ummmm ... where does one write a thesis on orbital bombardment and in what discipline of study?

            Perhaps at a war college, its the place one visits on the way to becoming a general or admiral. Something like:
            "Throughout its history, the college has held fast to the belief, first articulated by its founding president, Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, that ,"The War College is a place of original research on all questions relating to war and to statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war.""
            http://www.usnwc.edu/About.aspx [usnwc.edu]

          • by lennier (44736)

            Ummmm ... where does one write a thesis on orbital bombardment and in what discipline of study?

            Somewhere in Colorado Springs, perhaps?

      • by Jonner (189691)

        The basic idea of mass effect fields, as well as how they're used in weapons, is interesting. However, ME2's "heat clips," which supposedly cool the weapon by being discarded are nonsensical. If overheating is truly to problem to solve, you could just wait, but the heat clips are actually just a stand-in for universal ammunition.

    • Can't find the original article but I recall reading the BSG creators did feasibility studies on bullets or rayguns for the series and came up with laser powered handguns just not being as effective as bullets.

      If by "effective" they mean for purposes of drama and entertainment, I can understand that. If, on the other hand, they mean "effective weapons" . . . this is Sci Fi -- it's as effective as you want it to be!

      Seriously. What's a study like that look like? "Ok guys, what's better: a gun or some as yet un-invented personal weapon employing some known or unknown technology?"

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:34PM (#36157060)
    If we're going to be talking about the celebration of ray guns, someone should really mention James Alan Gardner's [thinkage.ca] Hugo and Nebula nominated short story, "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story" which can be read online here. [thinkage.ca] Since TFA didn't do it, i guess that someone has to be me.
  • Phasers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by feidaykin (158035) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:35PM (#36157072) Journal
    I love Star Trek, a lot. I'm sure I fit every possible stereotype of a Trek nerd, including ones that are contradictory. But there was one thing that always, always bugged me about Star Trek, even as a kid.

    Phasers are essentially inferior to contemporary firearms. For starters, they are actually slower than bullets. You cannot dodge a bullet (in real life, anyway). But there are several examples of the Enterprise crew dodging phaser/disrupter blasts in TNG. Granted, it's possible to retcon this by saying it's some sort of charged plasma that doesn't travel at the speed of light blah blah. But my point is not that it doesn't travel at light speed (which is obvious) but that it's actually SLOWER than a bullet. Which raises the question, why on Earth (or in the Alpha Quadrant, for that matter) would they use essentially inferior technology? If our present day firearms are superior to phasers, why the switch? It defies all logic.

    And don't even get me started on the horrible scene in Star Trek: First Contact where the Borg have adapted to Picard's phaser so he lures them into the holodeck and mows them down with a tommy gun. So, 1940s machine gun > 24th century phaser. And they don't keep a stash of machine guns in a weapon's locker? Hell, they can't even replicate a few dozen? Sigh.

    Really, it's easier to suspend disbelief about Warp Drive even though that violates everything we know about relativity and modern physics than it is to accept the concept of the phaser replacing the superior firepower we already have in this century.

    Anyway, angry Trek nerd rant mode off. Sorry about that.
    • Re:Phasers (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <zalanmeggyesi@CO ... m minus caffeine> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:53PM (#36157268)

      IANASTN, but here's my angle: phasers are something that the Borg encountered often enough to warrant an adaptation, but slugthrowers are something so ancient the Borg don't even remember them, therefore saw no reason to ever adapt to it. If Picard was slower to pick them off, they might have, eventually.
      Also, I recall that the phasers are not full-time weapons, but multipurpose tools that can cut, weld, heat, stun, kill, etc. Typical jack-of-all-trades, acceptable in all, great in none. Our guns, however, have one purpose: to kill. And being the single-minded things they are, they perform this task admirably.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        IANASTN, but here's my angle: phasers are something that the Borg encountered often enough to warrant an adaptation, but slugthrowers are something so ancient the Borg don't even remember them, therefore saw no reason to ever adapt to it.

        IANATrekie but re-watching TNG (I was 8 when it was first screened here) but the Borg need to be shot with a weapon before they can adapt to it, which is why in the TNG series they can normally kill one or two drones before they adapt. The same would be true of traditional projectile fireams one would think.

      • by lennier (44736)

        but slugthrowers are something so ancient the Borg don't even remember them, therefore saw no reason to ever adapt to it.

        Yeah, except that what Picard actually fired was a holographic simulation of a Tommy gun. Which was a bit like suprising a burglar in your house by firing up your 3D HD TV and waving your Halo: Reach controller at him and then have the guy actually die because the pixels were so sharp.

        Course we all know the Holodeck is a lethal deathtrap if you turn off the safeties (which happens every couple of weeks), but you'd think if it's that useful as a weapon, Starfleet would have decided to either mount it on the

    • There is actually a historical analogy to this: the American Revolutionary War. The weapons at the time were cannon and musket. Muskets were iron, hard to make, heavy to carry, hard to operate, dangerous to the user (they could explode), had a horrific rate of fire, noisy, created a lot of smoke to obscure the battleplace, etc. Ben Franklin, I think it was, argued for the longbow as it could be manufactured anywhere, was light, safer to operate, had a massive rate of fire, was silent, and just as deadly
      • Big difference is it takes years of training to be able to use a longbow effectively, whereas anyone could aim and operate a musket effectively.

      • by Guppy (12314)

        The weapons at the time were cannon and musket. Muskets were iron, hard to make, heavy to carry, hard to operate, dangerous to the user (they could explode), had a horrific rate of fire, noisy, created a lot of smoke to obscure the battleplace, etc. Ben Franklin, I think it was, argued for the longbow as it could be manufactured anywhere, was light, safer to operate, had a massive rate of fire, was silent, and just as deadly as the musket - the ideal weapon for the Americans.

        The problem is, Longbows require

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Erm, but you can set a phaser to a wide dispersion and stun everyone on a city block. Or you can set it to vaporize your opponent with a single hit. And it's the size of a garage-door opener (I was going to say Pager, but we're far enough into the future that there are people who have no idea what that is reading these fori).

      FTW.

      • by Kittenman (971447)

        And it's the size of a garage-door opener (I was going to say Pager, but we're far enough into the future that there are people who have no idea what that is reading these fori).

        Hey, I used to carry a pager, you insensitive clod!

    • Phasers are essentially inferior to contemporary firearms.

      Depends on what you're trying to do with them.

      Phasers could be "set" to stun or kill an opponent, something that normal firearms cannot do. Phasers also seemed to be able to shoot far more rounds than contemporary firearms. It was rare that you heard about a phaser being "drained" in a battle--I'm not that knowledgeable about TNG, but in "The Omega Glory," Captain Tracy claims to have killed "thousands" with only four phasers. Furthermore, phaser power-packs could be rigged to explode like a grenade. Ph

    • by perpenso (1613749)
      Perhaps I missed the episode but I don't really recall people dodging phaser beams. People may have ducked for cover and moved out of the aim point prior to the phaser firing but once the beam was "in flight" there was no ducking, much as with a bullet. The key to ducking is the time lag between the decision that the weapon is on target and the trigger finger moving far enough to fire the weapon.
      • Perhaps I missed the episode but I don't really recall people dodging phaser beams. People may have ducked for cover and moved out of the aim point prior to the phaser firing but once the beam was "in flight" there was no ducking, much as with a bullet. The key to ducking is the time lag between the decision that the weapon is on target and the trigger finger moving far enough to fire the weapon.

        Well there is a scene [youtube.com] in the ST:TOS episode Wink of an Eye where Deela, Queen of the Scalosians, dodges a phaser beam. To be fair, though, she was in an "accelerated" time frame.

    • A. You CAN dodge a bullet at long enough ranges.
      B. You can dodge light-speed fire in a universe where information can travel faster then light (subspace comms)
      C. IM really confused as to what frame of reference you are using to determine that phaser fire is slower then a bullet.
      • C. IM really confused as to what frame of reference you are using to determine that phaser fire is slower then a bullet.

        As I recall, it's not uncommon to be able to actually track the progress of the beam with the naked eye even without a high speed camera. This is true of a bullet at long range (being able to track tracer rounds, for example), but I remember doing this with phasers sometimes when guys were shooting at each other in the same room.

        • by Unkyjar (1148699)

          That's because the cable company automatically puts graphics over the phaser beam so that you can see it. Much like the blue dot they use for Hockey games.

    • by pz (113803)

      One advantage is that phasers carry a whole lot more shots than a pistol, and you don't have to stock ammunition, just maintain a recharge station. Another is that they have selectable power.

      Now where is the masking tape? My glasses have broken again ... snort-heh-snort-heh.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      But bullets have been dodged in TV shows and movies, so clearly TV show land has different rules in the first place.

      And why wouldn't a tommy gun kill a couple of Borg, if you kept trying they'd adapt and their shields would deflect them (or whatever). Normal phasers kill the first couple of Borgs just by changing the frequency...

      Phasers have at least three benefits:

      1. No need to carry ammunition.
      2. No need to adjust your shooting for varying levels of gravity that someone exploring space and planets and wha

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Phasers are essentially inferior to contemporary firearms

      Apart from not requiring ammunition, ease of handling, multiple energy settings and so forth, not to mention the possibility of a projectile weapon breaching the hull.

      they are actually slower than bullets.

      This probably had more to do with the special effects at the time and has just stuck.

    • by SheeEttin (899897)
      I recall one episode of the original series, in which the crew ends up on one of those "fantasy worlds" (you can imagine it, you get it), and Sulu ends up with some old firearms. Others' reactions are basically "I haven't seen one of those since they banned such-and-such weapons so-and-so years ago!".

      So basically: projectile weapons were banned, I guess. Because they're much more deadly than phasers (which are designed to incapacitate).
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:38PM (#36157100)
    The most important fact in this whole article of fiction.
  • The part of the movies and Star Trek I hated when you had the laser/phaser type of gun which fires a beam for a few seconds. Is that they actually miss, Because they stand there fire in one direction opps they missed and re-aim and fire again. As anyone who used a laser pointer knows If you miss you can correct rather quickly and there the bad guy is fried. Perhaps with some collateral damage, but not much more then a bunch of random laster holes in you hull.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Phaser != Laser. Also != Light Saber. Also doesn't really fit into the "Pew! Pew! Pew!" class of weapons. Photon torpedoes, on the other hand, are the king of "Pew! Pew! Pew!"

  • The real deal: MTHEL [youtube.com], from Northrop Grumman.

    That's 10 year old technology, and it's a chemical laser. Back then it took three semitrailers for all the support equipment. Since then, electrically-powered lasers are catching up. The Navy Laser Weapons System [youtube.com] is not as powerful, but it's a much smaller package, only needs electrical power. and can shoot down small UAVs.

  • I though that is how you celebrate the SciFi ray gun.... Run around with a sharpie in hand yelling PEW PEW PEW at your co-workers....

    BTW: accounting department has NO sense of humor.... Throwing a dry erase board eraser into their office and yelling grenade was frowned upon... at least the Marketing department acted like it was real and looked like they panicked and ran from it. They are such good sports!

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Watch out for Shipping & Receiving. They throw back shit like box-sealers, and those hurt.

  • by EdZ (755139) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:11PM (#36157492)
    No mention at all of Lensman, the root node of Space Opera, and the classic DeLameter? Or even the Stendish, a combined semiportable energy weapon/firearm? Pah!
    • Sad but true. I doubt very many people under the age of 40 have read the Lensman series.

      And don't forget the Q-gun.
      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        Sad but true. I doubt very many people under the age of 40 have read the Lensman series.

        I have read the first two, and then I was too bored to read further. There is lots of other SF from the 50's that is more fun to read in my view. I really enjoyed reading some old Perry Rhodan books last year for example.

    • by Aussie (10167)

      That was my first thought, how can you discuss Science Fiction ray guns without mentioning E.E. Doc. Smith ? Those Lensmen had a ray/beam/field/etc for every eventuality. I still enjoy pulling his books out every coupla years.

  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:29PM (#36157660) Homepage
    The Kill-O-Zap gun is a long, silver mean-looking device, the designers of which decided to make it totally clear that it had a right end, and a wrong end, and if that meant sticking blacked and evil-looking devices and prongs all over the wrong end, so be it.
    • The Kill-O-Zap gun is a long, silver mean-looking device, the designers of which decided to make it totally clear that it had a right end, and a wrong end, and if that meant sticking blacked and evil-looking devices and prongs all over the wrong end, so be it.

      You've got to love a good design ethic.

  • by wcrowe (94389)

    Great article, but no mention of the greatest ray gun of all: the Illudium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

  • Is that pew pew in your in your pants or are you just -- Oh god, oh god no!

  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:35PM (#36161668) Homepage

    When I was a teen, I read a science fiction novel which contained a nifty subplot involving a ray gun.

    I believe the novel was The Secret of the Martian Moons [wordpress.com] by Donald A. Wallheim.

    Our hero, a young spaceman from Earth, is crewman on the first spaceship from Earth to land on one of the moons of Mars. He is involved with the humanoid aliens who live there. He is pretty sure there is something odd going on, and he doesn't entirely trust them. A faction of these aliens gives him a ray gun, and tells him that it is a harmless stunner, and it is vitally important that he use it to stun some person (I think the person was an alien but I'm not even certain). Because he is suspicious of them, he wonders whether the ray gun might not be as advertised; perhaps it is a lethal weapon. Perhaps, even, it emits some sort of horrible radiation that would kill the user. So, when the moment of truth comes, he doesn't pull the trigger; instead he throws the ray gun with great force against the head of his target, knocking the target out. Later it is revealed that the gun is a convincing prop, not a working ray gun at all; and the faction he didn't trust was setting him up to fail. But instead he succeeded, throwing their evil plans into disarray. Moral: don't trifle with spacemen from Earth.

    If anyone else has read this and can confirm any details, or if this is from some other book, please post a follow-up here. I would actually like to get a copy of this book and re-read it. It probably isn't as good as I remember, but I still want to re-read it.

    steveha

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