Historians of the Cold War have paid too little attention to Soviet fears of "space-strike weapons" - that is, possible offensive uses of President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. In fifteen years or so, soldiers will no longer shoot rifles but will use some kind of lightning, some sort of a machine emitting a holocaustal electrical beam. Tell me, what can we invent in this line so as to surprise our neighbors?... Alas, we are only capable of imitating and purchasing weapons from others, and we do well if we manage to repair them ourselves. --Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Writer's Diary, 1873. [Khlinov, a physicist]: "I know that he has made an important discovery concerning the transmission of infra-red rays over a distance.... Heat waves at a temperature of a thousand degrees centigrade transmitted parallel to each other constitute a monstrous weapon of destruction and defense in time of war. The whole secret lies in the transmission of a ray that does not disperse. So far nobody has been able to do this. Judging by your story, Garin has constructed a machine that will do it. If so it is an extremely important discovery." "I've been thinking for a long time that this invention smells of higher politics," said Shelga. --Aleksei Tolstoy, The Garin Death Ray, 1927 (translated by George Hanna)

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