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"Generally, the human race avoids doing anything radical until forced into it."
- Frederik Pohl

Shatter-Gun  
  A hand-held device that literally scrambles the brains of the victim.  

Farr made no close inspection, but she was dead too. A shatter-gun vibrating at low intensity had homogenized their brains; their thoughts and memories were brown melange; their chosen avenues into the future had come to a break. Farr stood still. He tried to hold his breath, but he knew the damage had already been done. He backed out and closed the door...
From The Houses of Iszm, by Jack Vance.
Published by Better Publications in 1954
Additional resources -

Shatter-guns fire shatter-bolts:

Omon Bozhd made his decision. He rose proudly to his full height, the white bands glowing in the darkness. He looked at Farr, reached under his cloak, and brought out a shatter-gun.

Ducking, Farr fell flat.

The shatter-bolt sighed over his head.

Shatter-bolts make a distinctive sound:

Farr watched in fascination; a raid of tremendous scope. Horns rang out from Tjiere town; the vicious fwipp-hiss of shatter-bolts sounded. Two of the brown men became red clots. The man in the doorway bellowed, and the others retreated to the metal snout.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Houses of Iszm
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
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  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

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