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"Science fiction is what scientists would do if they could - if they had enough grant money, enough time, and enough brains to do the wonderful things they would like to do."
- Greg Bear

Rod  
  In a fight, it is used in a manner similar to a sword and a flamethrower.  

This weapon may seem familiar to Star Wars fans.

As Jim had discovered with Adok, fighting with the rods was very similar to fencing with sabers, provided they were sabers that changed lengths frequently and unexpectedly. The focal point of the fire put forth by the rods—that point at which the discharge was most destructive—was at the tip of an inner cone of pure white light, and this cone could be extended by the man holding the rod, at will, from a length of six inches to ten feet. This was the point at which the utmost power of the rod was exerted. Directly in counter, the point of the cone of fire in one rod could be blocked only by the point of the cone of fire in another. However, if the cone tip should miss its target and the opposing rod could project its cone tip into the stream of fire behind the other tip, the penetrative cone could be bent aside, so that the attacking cone could go on to strike its target.

It was not just a matter of deflecting the stream of fire from the opponent’s rod, therefore, but of deflecting it with a portion of your own flame, which was stronger than that part of the opponent’s flame it encountered.


(The rod from Wolfling)

Slothiel and Galyan moved about the polished floor, each careful to avoid being backed against one of the green-draperied walls. From the encounters of their weapons came a steady succession of spark showers—exploding suddenly into near-fountains of light when the two cone points were the parts of the flames to make contact...

Hardly more than a few weeks ago, it would have looked to Jim more like some smoothly expert dance by two large men with some sort of Roman candles in their hands—a dance intended to demonstrate the rhythm of the man and the beauty of the fireworks rather than anything else. Now he knew better.

From Wolfling, by Gordon R. Dickson.
Published by Analog Science Fiction in 1969
Additional resources -

Compare to the rod of wrath from Gather, Darkness! (1943) by Fritz Lieber and the lightsaber from Star Wars (1976) by George Lucas.

Thanks to Secret Master of Fandom for pointing out this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Wolfling
  More Ideas and Technology by Gordon R. Dickson
  Tech news articles related to Wolfling
  Tech news articles related to works by Gordon R. Dickson

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