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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Mercy Rifle  
  Device fired slivers of anesthetic as darts.  

The goggled figure in front of the camp tent was cleaning a mercy rifle. By the time we were out of the car, he had closed it up and loaded it with inch-long slivers of anesthetic chemical. The slivers could be fired individually or in one-second bursts of twenty, and they dissolved instantly in anything that resembled blood. One type of sliver would usually fit all the lifeforms on a given world.
From Grendel, by Larry Niven.
Published by Ballantine in 1968
Additional resources -

Compare this idea to the needle pipe from the 1928 novel Beyond the Stars by Ray Cummings.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Grendel
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
  Tech news articles related to Grendel
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