Years ago, I read a magazine article, possibly in Discover, about how in the 17th or 18th century, someone (possibly a Frenchman?) was writing about interplanetary journeys of men armed with disintegrator pistols.
I've been looking around, trying to figure out if I'm mis-remembering.
I found a webpage that reads:
Cyrano de Bergerac's Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon (1659) and Sun (1687) include marvelous inventions such as solar energy converters and talking machines. ... The first known fictions even vaguely set in future time are Francis Cheynell's six-page political tract Aulicus: His Dream of the King's Second Coming to London (1644) and Jacques Guttin's Epigone, Story of the Future Century (1659). ...Voltaire took a similar stance in Micromégas (1732), notable as the first known story of visitors from other planets: two giants...
All that looks great, but none of that mentions disintegrator pistols.
Much, much later, in 1898, Edison's Conquest of Mars and War of the Worlds featured disintegrator weapons and death rays.
Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.