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"The Weapon Too Dreadful To Use" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the May 1939 issue of Amazing Stories and reprinted in the August 1965 issue of Amazing and the 1972 collection The Early Asimov. "The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use" was the eleventh story written by Asimov, and the second to be published.

"The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use"
Amazing stories 193905.jpg
AuthorIsaac Asimov
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inAmazing Stories
Publication typePeriodical
Media typePrint (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication dateMay 1939


Plot summaryEdit

The people of Earth have colonised Venus, despite the intelligent species native to the planet, who are treated as inferiors with no rights (reminiscent of apartheid and Jim Crow laws on Earth).

One of the Venusians shows his Earthman friend the ruins of an ancient city, where they discover details of an ancient weapon, apparently abandoned millennia before as being too dreadful to actually use. However, as the domination by the colonists increases, elements of the Venusian resistance obtain the weapon and use it on the colonial cities and their population. The weapon works by disconnecting the brain from the mind, and within a short time, the Venusians take back control of their planet from the defenseless colonists.

Earth surrenders and signs a peace treaty with Venus. The Venusians then destroy the weapon.

Story notesEdit

In The Early Asimov, Asimov speculates that Amazing might have bought the story because the magazine needed a story quickly, since "The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use" was accepted in February 1939 and published in the May issue.[1] Frederik Pohl pointed out to Asimov that after the Venusians destroyed the weapon Earth would be free to reconquer Venus. Pohl also pointed out that "the weapon too dreadful to use" had been used. According to Asimov, this caused him to avoid using long, elaborate titles.[2]


  • In the Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty, episode Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind, there is mention of a "Machine of Unspeakable Doom" which swaps the conscious and unconscious mind of the victim, while also periodically maiming their genitals.[3]


  1. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1972). The early Asimov; or, Eleven years of trying. Garden City NY: Doubleday. pp. 79–82.
  2. ^ Asimov, Isaac (1972). The early Asimov; or, Eleven years of trying. Garden City NY: Doubleday. pp. 98–100.
  3. ^ Ridley, Ryan (writer) (7 April 2014). "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind". Rick and Morty. Season 1. Episode 110. Cartoon Network.

External linksEdit