Disintegrator

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In sf Terminology, one of the commonest of hand-held Weapons (see Rays), especially in Space Opera of the 1930s and 1940s. The device may have been a product of squeamishness – or perhaps just neatness – since it creates a maximum of destruction with a minimum of bleeding pieces left to sweep up afterwards. The term seems to have been introduced by Nictzin Dyalhis in "When the Green Star Waned" (April 1925 Weird Tales), as a synonym for Blaster (here spelt "Blastor"). The disintegrator first reached a wide audience with the Comic strip Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in 1935, as a result of which disintegrator Toys were very popular with kids in the late 1930s. A notable predecessor of the usual handgun is the much larger prototype device of Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger story "The Disintegration Machine" (January 1929 Strand), which can also restore the disintegrated object – which is just as well, since Challenger himself becomes an experimental subject. [PN/DRL]

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