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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Pinlight  
  Thimble-sized photonuclear bomb.  

In the story, interstellar travel is threatened by creatures that lived "underneath space itself". They are able to move millions of miles in a millisecond and are intelligent. For ships that encounter these monsters, the crews face either death or permanent insanity. Fortunately, these creatures were destroyed by light. The best way to combat these weapons was a system using human telepaths (manning sensors) that were partnered with cats:

"Pinlighting consisted of the detonation of ultra-vivid miniature photonuclear bombs, which converted a few ounces of a magnesium isotope into pure visible radiance... ...Man and Partner could do together what Man could not do alone. Men had the intellect. Partners had the speed. The Partners rode their tiny craft, no larger than footballs, outside the spaceships. They planoformed with the ships. They rode beside them in their six-pound craft ready to attack. The tiny ships of the Partners were swift. Each carried a dozen pinlights, bombs no bigger than thimbles. The pinlighters threw the Partnersóquite literally threwóby means of mind-to-firing relays direct at the Dragons. What seemed to be Dragons to the human mind appeared in the form of gigantic Rats in the minds of the Partners. Out in the pitiless nothingness of space, the Partners' minds responded to an instinct as old as life. The Partners attacked, striking with a speed faster than Man's, going from attack to attack until the Rats or themselves were destroyed. Almost all the time, it was the Partners who won."
From The Game of Rat and Dragon, by Cordwainer Smith.
Published by Galaxy Science Fiction in 1953
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Thanks to Gatomon41 for submitting this item!

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