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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Aether Cannon  
  A hand-held energy weapon.  

Bane nodded slowly, letting his steady gaze rest on the soldier long enough to unnerve him. The faint sound of aether cannon discharge came from inside the warehouse. He raised his right arm, where the blunt stub of his own cannon projected from beneath the specially adapted sleeve of his coat.
... It was one of the Taken. A boy-child, perhaps ten years old, with long blond hair down to its shoulders and wearing a simple blue smock. Its feet were bare. It gazed innocently at them from a distance of a few dozen feet.
... Bane raised his cannon. "Get out of my city," he told it, and fired. The Taken dodged the first blast, its expression of fresh-faced youth dissolving into snarling animal hatred as it attacked. It ran at them with teeth bared, fingers held out before it like claws, screeching. The soldier panicked, squeezing off a shot too early. The Taken leaped over the path of the soldier's bolt and landed on him, hands clamped around his bald head. The soldier dropped without a sound. The mere touch of a Taken meant death. Bane didn't miss a second time. He caught the Taken full in the chest as it bunched to spring, and it crumpled.
From Storm Thief, by Chris Wooding.
Published by Scholastic in 2006
Additional resources -

Here's another excerpt that displays the nature of the weapon:

The cannons spat squealing globs of burning green energy, a moist slither of pure aether that fizzed and spat as it cut through the air.

Compare to the power gun from David Drake's 1979 novel Hammer's Slammers and the Standish from 'Doc' Smith's 1934 novel Triplanetary. Also, check out what is probably the first use of the word "blaster" from the 1925 story When the Green Star Waned by Nictzin Dyalhis.

Thanks to Connor Lawrence for writing in with this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Storm Thief
  More Ideas and Technology by Chris Wooding
  Tech news articles related to Storm Thief
  Tech news articles related to works by Chris Wooding

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