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"Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way."
- Robert Heinlein

Gravity-Polarized Explosive (TDX)  
  A chemical explosive that acts at an angle to the local gravitational field.  

At the same moment, a lurid scarlet glare splashed over his face and the front of his suit, and red lances of light checkered the street. There was an almost-simultaneous flat crash, without weight in the thin air, but ugly-sounding.

"TDX!" Anderson shouted, involuntarily.

From Cities in Flight, by James Blish.
Published by Avon in 1957
Additional resources -

Here's a further description:

"...We use TDX ourselves to get a cutting blast - it has the property of exploding on a flat plane."

Miramon goggled. "Impossible. An explosion has to expand evenly in all directions that are open to it."

"Not if the explosive is a piperazohexynitrate built from polarized carbon atome. Such atoms can't move in any direction but at right angles to the gravity radius...

Blish also used this "material" in his 1958 book A Case of Conscience:

Most of the older buildings were rectangular, put together without mortar of rammed-earth blocks. Over the course of decades the blocks continued to pack and settle themselves until it became easier to abandon an unwanted building than to tear it down. One of the first setbacks the Earthmen had suffered on Lithia had come through an ill-advised offer to raze one such structure with TDX, a gravity-polarized explosive unknown to the Lithians. The warehouse in question was large, thick walled, and three Lithian centuries old. The explosion created an uproar which greatly distressed the Lithians, but when it was over, the storehouse still stood, unshaken.

Compare to pentavalent nitrogen from Doc Smith's 1931 novel Spacehounds of IPC, PyrE from Alfred Bester's 1956 novel The Stars My Destination, and cataclysmite from H. Beam Piper's 1962 novel Little Fuzzy.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Cities in Flight
  More Ideas and Technology by James Blish
  Tech news articles related to Cities in Flight
  Tech news articles related to works by James Blish

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