Science Fiction from its earliest incarnations has always featured some sort of futuristic weaponry. From H.G. Wells’ martian heat-ray to the most modern charged particle beam of Alastair Reynolds, SF weapons astound, confound and amaze readers. I have always loved the idea of the raygun since I read my father’s pulp space patrol books from when he was a kid. And as with every thing, what is old is new again. Images of SF pulp are everywhere and the classic deathray is in vogue once more.
The question is: How useful or realistic are the ray-guns of yore or the modern revamped directed energy weapons?
In the next few posts I will be examining various kinds of futuristic weaponry that have appeared in SF through the ages; everything from Tesla’s teleforce weapon to “rods from God”. I will attempt to describe the relative advantages and disadvantages of each, report on any real world examples or research and pick a particular, author or television show which presents that particular kind of weapon.
Since there are some many kinds of SF weapons I will be dividing up them into three broad categories:
- Directed Energy Weapons
- Kinetic Weapons
- Death-rays (while these are technically a kind of DEW, they are so cool that they really deserve their own category)
As it turns out, there are more kinds of real-world weapons that are clearly Science Fictional than you would believe. I will be including examples of weaponry that isn’t SF but should be.
If any readers have a particular kind of SF weapon they would like me to discuss, post a comment and I will do my best to write it up.