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"Tokyo homeless people reiterate the whole nature of living in Tokyo in cardboard boxes, they're only slightly smaller than Tokyo apartments, and they have almost as many consumer goods. It's a nightmare of boxes within boxes."
- William Gibson

Steam Rifle  
  A gun that propels projectiles with steam.  

The heat chamber of his rifle flared as it built up pressure. His hands had been doing the right things automatically, as though they were more eager to kill than he was. It only took a few seconds for the steam to form - seconds that seemed very long, right now - but after that the rifle was good for service limited only by the aim of the marksman and the quantity of ammunition.
From Omnivore, by Piers Anthony.
Published by Ballantine in 1968
Additional resources -

The idea of a steam cannon dates back to Leonardo da Vinci at least (and possibly as far back as Archimedes); take a look at this web page at MIT regarding a very successful steam cannon.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for sending in this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Omnivore
  More Ideas and Technology by Piers Anthony
  Tech news articles related to Omnivore
  Tech news articles related to works by Piers Anthony

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