I recall reading a SF short story, probably in an SF anthology from the 60s, 70s, or 80s.

The story was all about a community or society reacting to the invention of a wondrous new military technology, and how it was going to revolutionise their war with a long standing enemy. There might have been conversations about how it couldn't possibly work, or the ramifications of being too successful in war, and so on.

The story was fairly quiet and neutral about the setting, and what exactly this new technology was .. right up to the final page where it was revealed to be the bow and arrow. And the society being a stone age tribe.

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    This reminds me of a story in probably Al Capp's LI'l Abner comic strip (1934-1877). In a prehistoric Indian tribe's military headquarters, "the Tentagon" there was worry about an enemy tribe's new weapon. But the top brass decreedthere was nothing to worry about. And in the battle the tribe was wiped out by the enemy tribe's arrows. Jul 13, 2021 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


"The Final Battle" (1970) by Harry Harrison

Story is in the Harry Harrison collection of short stories Prime Number and is only 2 pages long. The beginning states that sitting around a fire listening to stories is an old-fashioned practice compared to modern entertainments. However, at the end:

"Here it is," Father says, standing and reaching high up on the wall. "This is it, the weapon that rains death from a distance and is the Ultimate Weapon."


He smiles as he hangs the bow carefully back on its peg. "The waging of war is too terrible now. The era of perpetual peace has begun."

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    Thanks! I liked it as a useful example of a SF genre story that showed it doesn't need to be futuristic to be SF.
    – Erics
    Jul 13, 2021 at 12:03
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    "'The waging of war is too terrible now. The era of perpetual peace has begun.'" Oh, you naive, naive soul... :-P
    – Vikki
    Jul 14, 2021 at 0:11
  • Not to be confused with The Final Weapon by Everett B. Cole ISFDB entry Jul 14, 2021 at 11:19
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    @Erics Or perhaps that a story can be crafted with the superficial characteristics of the genre to pull a switch on the reader. I remember another where a defending force are attacked by huge unstoppable monsters which rout the defenders in a total panic; the final line which pulls the switch is "who would have thought Hannibal could take elephants over the Alps?" (That one even has a "Communications Officer". One of the soldiers jokes they're only the Communications Officer because they've got the loudest voice; and then it's only at the end you find that was literally true.)
    – Graham
    Jul 14, 2021 at 12:45
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    This reminded me of this great story I read after seeing it in an answer here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/244787/…
    – dbmag9
    Jul 14, 2021 at 15:08

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