Death rays! Absurd idea peddled by con artists and amateurs and promoted by a sensationalist press? Not quite. Government and military leaders and mainstream scientists endorsed the possibility of such a fantastic weapon in the years before World War II. A concept born out of research with electricity and other energy sources, the death ray or directed energy weapon was widely reported for nearly five decades. Claims for its invention appeared as early as 1876, and increased thereafter, until the death-ray craze of the 1920s and 1930s. The idea influenced fiction, making its way from newspapers and magazines into novels, short stories, films, theatrical productions and other media. This book takes a first-ever look at the historical death ray and its impact on fiction and popular culture.
Death Rays and the Popular Media, 1876-1939
McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
A Study of Directed Energy Weapons in Fact, Fiction and Film