needle-beam n.

a weapon producing a very narrow beam of energy; the beam produced by such a weapon


  • 1930 R. Cummings Brigands of the Moon in Astounding Stories of Super-Science Mar. 347/1 page image Ray Cummings bibliography

    Miko was bending over him. Miko with a heat-cylinder no longer than a finger. Its needle-beam played upon Snap’s naked chest. I could see the gruesome little trail of smoke rising.

  • 1936 J. W. Campbell Brain Stealers of Mars in Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec. 27/1 John W. Campbell, Jr.

    Then he went around with an opened ion-gun with a needle beam and poked everything visible with it.

  • 1936 J. H. Haggard Moon Crystals in Astounding Stories Jan. 34/2

    He had saved the little green man’s life, and from that time on, Omar Klegg had been the one white man who could step foot on the bad-land soil of Venus without the aid of blazing needle-beam gats.

  • 1942 ‘A. MacDonald’ Beyond This Horizon in Astounding Science Fiction Apr. 12/1 Robert A. Heinlein Anson MacDonald

    In fact, he had not noticed that his friend was wearing anything new in the way of weapons—had he arrived unarmed, Monroe-Alpha would have noticed it, naturally, but he was not particularly observant about such matters, and could easily have spent two hours with a man and never notice whether he was wearing a Stokes coagulator or a common needlebeam.

  • 1943 C. L. Moore Judgment Night in Astounding Science Fiction Sept. 137/2 C. L. Moore

    Sighing, Juille fired at him around the edge of the screen, her needle beam making the air shriek as it passed.

  • 1943 C. L. Moore Judgment Night in Astounding Science Fiction Aug. 47/1 C. L. Moore

    She saw the silver mail burned away across his chest where that fierce needle beam should have bored through flesh and bone.

  • 1945 G. O. Smith in Astounding Science Fiction Nov. 156/1 George O. Smith

    With two needle beams trained on his back, he was helpless.

  • 1946 M. Champion in Astounding Science Fiction Nov. 40/1

    Randall was…in possession of a secret or new needle beam gun.

  • 1970 L. Niven Ringworld (1984) 232 Larry Niven

    Louis clawed the flashlight-laser from his belt, used its green needle beam to free Speaker from his balloons.

  • 1979 A. E. van Vogt Ersatz Eternal in Lost: Fifty Suns 83 A. E. van Vogt

    Silently, Malkins produced a needle-beam projector. Grayson took it, pointed it at his own right temple, and pressed the curved firing pin—as Malkins grabbed at him frantically but too late. The thin, white beam seemed to penetrate Grayson’s heed. It burned a round, black, smoldering hole in the woodwork beyond.

  • 1995 A. D. Foster Mid-Flinx 33 Alan Dean Foster

    Both men drew compact needlers. ‘They're set to stun, and I don’t think she’s faster than a needle beam.’

  • 2004 S. Perry & M. Reaves Battle Surgeons xxxviii. 289 page image Steve Perry Michael Reaves bibliography

    Before he [sc. Jos] could change course, the droid’s right index finger, which was pointed at the stingwort, fired a needle beam of bright red coherent light at it. Without slowing his pace, I-Five carefully moved his finger back and forth, incinerating a one-meter-wide path through the dangerous growth as he passed through it.

Research requirements

antedating 1930

Earliest cite

R. Cummings, in Astounding

Research History
Christopher Davis submitted a cite from a reprint of George O. Smith's "Identity"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1945 first magazine appearance.
Mike Christie submitted a 1946 cite from Mark Champion's "The Unforeseen".
Mike Christie submitted a 1943 cite from C. L. Moore's "Judgment Night".
Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1977 (or later) reprint of A.E. van Vogt's 1972 "Ersatz Eternal".
Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1984 reprint of Larry Niven's 1970 "Ringworld".
Mike Christie located and Robert Woodward submitted a 1995 cite from Alan Dean Foster's "Mid-Flynx".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Robert Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1942 first magazine appearance.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1936 cite for "needle beam" from John W. Campbell's "Brain Stealers of Mars"
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a Project Gutenberg etext of "Brigands of the Moon", by Ray Cummings. Jesse Sheidlower verified this in the original appearance in Astounding.
Bill Mullins submitted a 1936 cite from J. H. Haggard, in Astounding.

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.