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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Subtle Knife  
  A knife able to cut through any material, and even cut through into different worlds.  

It was an ordinary-looking dagger, with a double-sided blade of dull metal about eight inches long, a short crosspiece of the same metal, and a handle of rosewood. As he looked at it more closely, he saw that the rosewood was inlaid with gold wires, forming a design he didn't recognize until he turned the knife around and saw an angel, with wings folded. On the other side was a different angel, with wings upraised. The wires stood out a little from the surface, giving a firm grip, and as he picked it up he felt that it was light in the hand and strong and beautifully balanced, and that the blade was not dull after all. In fact, a swirl of cloudy colors seemed to live just under the surface of the metal: bruise purples, sea blues, earth browns, cloud grays, the deep green under heavy-foliaged trees, the clustering shades at the mouth of a tomb as evening falls over a deserted graveyard... If there was such a thing as shadow-colored, it was the blade of the subtle knife.

But the edges were different. In fact, the two edges differed from each other. One was clear bright steel, merging a little way back into those subtle shadow-colors, but steel of incomparable sharpness.

From The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2, by Philip Pullman.
Published by Scholastic in 1997
Additional resources -

The two edges have different purposes:

"This edge," said Giacomo Paradisi touching the steel with the handle of a spoon, "will cut through any material in the world. Look."

And he pressed the silver spoon against the blade. Will, holding the knife, felt only the slightest resistance as the tip of the spoon's handle fell to the table, cut clean off.

"The other edge," the old man went on, "is more subtle still. With it you can cut an opening out of this world altogether...

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip Pullman
  Tech news articles related to The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip Pullman

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