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

Stun Pistol  
  A hand-held device that causes unconsciousness.  

A hand-weapon flashed -

To Bayta, consciousness returned sluggishly, but without the "Where am I?" sensation. She remembered clearly the odd old man who called himself emperor, and the other men who waited outside. The arthritic tingle in her finger joints meant a stun pistol.

From Foundation and Empire, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Doubleday in 1952
Additional resources -

Compare to the paralysis ray from Arthur K. Barnes' 1938 novel Satellite Five.

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