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Entry updated 30 January 2023. Tagged: Theme.

Traditional item of sf Terminology, third in the trio of classic Genre SF hand Weapons: the others are the Blaster and the sometimes synonymous Disintegrator. The Star Trek phaser can famously be set to "stun", but the device was already old in sf. Personal "electric stunners" appear in C M Kornbluth's "Fire-Power" (July 1941 Cosmic Stories) as by S D Gottesman, and the "stun-gun" in Mark Champion's "The Unforseen" [sic] (November 1946 Astounding). Whether depicted as a sonic device or the projector of some unknown Ray, the stunner is regarded as harmless (though victims may be left with a headache); its use is permitted even by rigidly pacifist Robots constrained by the Laws of Robotics in William R Burkett's Sleeping Planet (July-September 1964 Analog; 1964 Analog; 1965). Rick Raphael's "Guttersnipe" (November 1964 Analog) depicts routine stunner use by US authorities to quell developing riots.

Amusingly, the real-world taser stun-gun is an acronym for "Tom (A) Swift's Electric Rifle", one of the many Inventions of Tom Swift (whom see). [DRL]

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