"Science Fiction is speculative fiction in which the author takes as his first postulate the real world as we know it, including all established facts and natural laws."
In this part in the story, the Traders are trying to get their goods into "closed" planets; that is, planets whose rulers are suspicious of technology that is backed by the Foundation.
This item is interesting not just because a force-field "blade" could never bend back and cut your fingers. The force-field penknife is arguably the first reference to a cutting blade made of energy; it may be the inspiration for the lightsaber of Star Wars fame. The planet Coruscant, the central planet for the Empire, was certainly inspired by Trantor, the center of government in the first Foundation book. So Lucas had read the book.
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SF writers popularized and elaborated on this idea a generation before the first patents were filed.
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'Sealed to the ground along all the sides, Honey, he growled...'
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