From Superiority (1951), by Arthur C. Clarke:
The military advisers were worried, and as usual turned to the scientists for help. Would it be possible to improve our existing weapons, they asked, so that our present advantage could be increased still further?
“Frankly, gentlemen,” said Norden, “I doubt it. Our existing weapons have practically reached finality. I don’t wish to criticize my predecessor, or the excellent work done by the Research Staff in the last few generations, but do you realize that there has been no basic change in armaments for over a century? It is, I am afraid, the result of a tradition that has become conservative. For too long, the Research Staff has devoted itself to perfecting old weapons instead of developing new ones. It is fortunate for us that our opponents have been no wiser: we cannot assume that this will always be so.”
“What we want are new weapons — weapons totally different from any that have been employed before. Such weapons can be made: it will take time, of course, but since assuming charge I have replaced some of the older scientists with young men and have directed research into several unexplored fields which show great promise. I believe, in fact, that a revolution in warfare may soon be upon us.”
We were skeptical. There was a bombastic tone in Norden’s voice that made us suspicious of his claims. We did not know, then, that he never promised anything that he had not already almost perfected in the laboratory.
(Read the rest here.)