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"By the time I can take people out to where Hubble is looking, they won't be human anymore, by a long way."
- Larry Niven

Energy Curtain Key  
  A small handheld "key" to shut off a force field.  

This is in some ways a unique idea from sf writers, who in the 1920's and 1930's were more inclined to deal with physical switches; also, you may want to find out more about the "Curtain" that this key controlled.

At last they were through the Curtain. Arnim turned, took something from the voluminous pocket of his waterproof. A tiny radio-transmitter, low-powered, sending only a long dash that varied completely in wave length for a half minute. The key to the Curtain—Penger pressed the button. A coruscation of tiny flashes snapped through the wind-tossed filaments. The power was on—that apparently frail barrier hummed now with the Grendon vibration.

Britt could see the driven rain rebound from the invisible wall. Nothing, no human body, no Venusian dart, not even a high-powered electro-bullet could pass through the net. The station was safe, protected against all intrusion until the machines that produced the vibration were stilled by another pressure on the little instrument with its secret combination of frequencies.

From Venus Mines, Incorporated, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat).
Published by Wonder Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare to the softener key from Larry Niven's 1973 novel Protector.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Venus Mines, Incorporated
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)
  Tech news articles related to Venus Mines, Incorporated
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)

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