I’d like to make the case for Warhammer 40K’s Laspistol; While it’s the weakest weapon in the setting, on present day Earth it could punch through more or less any armour in use (since it’s established that even Imperial Guard flack armour’s many times better than anything from real life).
Plus it has low recoil (characters in expanded universe novels and the game almost always fire it one handed), a huge ammo capacity, the power cells can be reloaded by leaving them in sunlight and because the setting treats technology as arcane magic, it’s most likely very resilient.
The irony in that statement is that in the post-TOS eps phasers were never used with a continuous beam, even though you’d think that you could easily adjust your aim and place the beam on-target, but no, it was always a quick (and usually ineffective) burst.
I think phasers are pretty worthless because they just drop this futuristic weapon into a tactical situation very akin to a Wild West shootout-newfangled weapon, ancient tactics. If the Federation ever faced someone who refused to fight the way the Fed fought, they would get owned pretty quickly (and anyone willing to quote a Trek novel or fanfic which does just that will get my thanks).
To be fair, this is where we start to get—especially in later Trek series’—into the murky boundary between “the weapon is functionally inferior” and “the weapon is inferior as used because the writers are unwilling or unable to to craft quality combat scenes.”
Case in point…
Try The Siege of AR-558. Powerful story, sure, but at one point, the Feds struggle to defend a position that could have been adequately covered by some landsers with a Maxim Gun.
Now, some of the shortcomings of away teams, I could understand, or at least forgive—those guys are basically a glorified shore patrol, usually protecting scientists or dealing with unruly visitors, not a full-on Marine detachment. But when you get to DS9, with a full-on war going on, this starts getting truly baffling.
Unless they were trying to make a point about an advanced, generally peaceful future civilization being institutionally unprepared for large-scale ground war, possibly stemming from an over-reliance and cultural romanticization of their space force’s abilities…which, interesting as that would have been, I don’t believe was the case. I think they just wanted Sgt. Sisko’s Weird War Tales. :smack:
Sorry, this I do not remember, unless we differ radically on what constitutes a “burst.” F’rinstance, I have vivid images of the Enterprise-D crew zapping Borgs with continuous beams (until they “adapted” to the frequency, of course), and Riker and Picard shooting that evil dude at Starfleet HQ until his head popped open and all those crawly things came skittering out.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen enough episodes of DS9 to make a judgement there, but it seems the situation was pretty much the same on VOYAGER.
I rather pack a SHAAK from John Barnes’ TimelineWars. It manufactures its own ammunition out of scrap material placed in a hopper in the grip, so no matter where you are, you can always get resupplied with ammo. It also has a number of settings, including one that fires a hyper-velocity pellet that, when it encounters flesh, flies around inside the body reducing the target to a bag of goo. Hit a finger and you kill your opponent.
I was wondering about the Culture, but thought their weaponry came too close to the OP’s restrictions against anything too God-like. I guess for added lulz, we could make your weapon out of E-Dust. The comparatively primitive—it’s not even sentient!—weapon from A Gift From The Culture might fit the OP. (Aside, are knife missiles sentient?)
I’m a fan of some of the more esoteric weapons in Alastair Reynolds’s, Revelation Space universe: Bosers, portable Antimatter accelerators/projectors, Causality editors, even the ‘killer jewelry’ from Turquoise Days.
Another interesting multi-use weapon from the Laundry series I mentioned earlier is the Hand of Glory. Unlike the wiki, the Laundry’s HoG blows stuff up good. Or hides you, depending on your incantation.
If the “Soft Weapon” is out, then I’ll go with the tasp from Larry Niven’s Known Space universe. Especially the puppeteer version. Direct stimulation of the pleasure centre of the brain? Sounds like fun!
The thing about typical sci-fi zorch guns, especially as they are seen in the movies, is that they don’t appear to be any more effective than firearms while requiring a level of technology orders of magnitude more complex. The lack of recoil is about the only real world advantage they bring to the table. If I were writing hard science fiction, I’d quite likely have any weapons be conventional firearms updated in materials and manufacture, but still using a chemical reaction to propel a projectile at the target.
Thought of one other advantage. At least in ST:TOS, they seem to send blasts at the speed of light (photon torpedoes don’t, oddly enough, but phaser beams do, or at least, some significant fraction of c).
*Really *hard to dodge. Also, I’ll fan-wank that an energy shield, such as the ones that protect ships, could protect armies in terrestrial warfare, and that a phaser would help wear that down, whereas a conventional firearm wouldn’t.
For spacecraft engaging in combat at enormous distances, I concede the speed advantage. For individual people engaging in combat, bullets are already going too fast to dodge. Misses are due to bad aim, improperly judged distance, and other factors. Now that I think about it, though, another advantage to the zorch guns is that they shoot directly to point of aim at any distance. The burst doesn’t drop due to gravity as a bullet does. Even so, there were a number of advanced infantry rifles produced for testing in the 90’s that achieved much the same idea by driving a small projectile, a flechette basically, at crazy high velocities. I particularly liked this offering fromSteyr-Mannlicher. Despite the impression that page gives, Steyr hasn’t done anything with it since the 90’s. Materials weren’t quite up to where they needed to be for a design like that. Something like that done up with futuristic composites and such, though, would be a believable sci-fi gun that is still really cool. Imagine it with an actual working smart-grenade launcher mounted under the barrel…
It’s light. Handle’s adjustable for easy carrying, good for righties and lefties. Breaks down into four parts. Undetectable by x-ray (ideal for quick, discreet interventions). A word on firepower: titanium recharger, three thousand round clip with bursts of three to three hundred, and with the Replay button - another Zorg invention - it’s even easier. One shot - and Replay sends every following shot to the same location.
… and to finish the job, all the Zorg oldies-but-goldies: rocket launcher… arrow launcher, with exploding or poisonous gas heads, very practical… our famous net launcher… the always-efficient flamethrower (my favorite)… and for the grand finale, the all-new “Ice-cube System”!