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Lasgun dune

Lasgun (The Dune Encyclopedia)

A laser weapon, or lasgun for short, was a continuous-wave laser projector weapon developed during the First Empire as weapons of war. Following the development of the Holtzman Shield, though, the use of lasers diminished considerably. By the time of the Corrino Empire, lasguns were used almost exclusively as anti-wildlife weapons and in sport shooting.

The earliest lasguns were massive mounted weapons weighing upwards of several tons, and were used as anti-aircraft weapons, or in orbit as anti-satellite weapons. Shortly after their invention, the first portable lasguns were developed and produced, and until the general acceptance of the Holtzman Shield, lasers were the main weapons of all armed conflict.


Lasers were first developed for industrial use as cutting torches, scalpels, and drills. The primitive devices were immobile and had an effective range of only a few meters. They were large, bulky, awkward to operate and required massive amounts of power. The first lasguns were simply adaptations of the industrial laser, with longer range but few other changes. These impractical weapons could not compete with the projectile weapons of the day, and were never widely produced. Legend has it that the first widely produced lasguns were anti-satellite lasers, produced by Houses Washington and Steel during the very beginnings of the Atomic Age, when both Houses shared a single planet, and neither was sure that the other would not use atomics. These lasguns were still large and used too much power, but the value of having them in orbit nevertheless was seen as an overriding benefit.

The first truly personal laser was developed late in the First Empire, and was intended for use mainly as a communications device. However, it was quickly discovered that the power could be stepped up (albeit at the cost of more rapidly depleting the power pack) and that this increase converted the message laser into a lasgun that could be carried and used by a single person. These "communications devices" already had the form of more conventional rifles (since the message beam had to be visually aimed by the user) so their adaptation as weapons may not have been accidental. The main drawbacks of the first lasguns were the large, heavy powerpacks and their limited numbers of firings before recharging. Even at a range of one hundred meters against an unprotected target, a user of a primitive lasgun could count only on ten or so shots from a single powerpack. In addition, these weapons still used visible light, which limited their effectiveness when used in an atmosphere (because of the diffraction effects of the gases), and which also made the weapons embarrassingly subject to reflection from intentionally mirrored or naturally reflective surfaces.

The next major step in lasgun development was the development of so-called "Radio Lasers," which used radiations outside of the wavelengths of visible light as the lasing frequencies. This development, coupled with continuing advances in power storage technology, allowed the lasgun to come into its own as the weapon of choice of all combatants.

The most powerful lasguns were the ones using the wavelengths of long-wave radio: they were almost impossible to detect or block, and had extremely long ranges. Unfortunately, they also required very large chambers, due to the length of the waves being produced, and were impractical as anything except mounted weapons, either on spaceships or in defensive positions.

The lasgun of popular memory usually employed deep-ultraviolet wavelengths and ranged in size from small, hand-held weapons to heavy, mounted, barely portable weapons, and included the popular laserifle. The crewed weapons usually had a separate powerpack, which could be discarded when depleted and replaced in the field. Personal weapons, on the other hand, were generally charged by "power-buttons," small batteries which were inserted into the stock or grip of the weapon and either discarded, replaced, or recharged when depleted. The advent of lightweight batteries gave lasgun users the ability to fight for extended periods of time without resupply, and made lasguns the basic combat weapon for all branches of the military.

Following the 10th Millennium[]

The development of the Holtzman Effect Shield spelled the end of the lasgun as a common weapon. By the 10th millennium, lasgun manufacture and ownership was strongly restricted, since accidental contact between a laser beam and one of the ubiquitous personal shields was extremely deadly (resulting in an atomic explosion). Collectors and others who owned lasguns were normally prohibited from owning the power sources for their weapons, except in certain specified locations where lasgun enthusiasts gathered to test their target-shooting skills, or on wild planets, where lasguns were still highly useful as protective weapons.  

See also[]