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Lightsabers are cool, regardless of your opinion of the movies, lightsabers are really cool. From the fact that it can retract the blade to the lack of effort needed to cut through anything only makes them seem even better and I feel I speak for many science fiction writers when I say I wish I could use them, but unfortunately unless you are writing a fanfiction, you are out of luck.

Many series that really want to use lightsaber-esque weaponry tend to use a weapon similar to them like Halo's energy sword or Bleach's laser swords. I am asking if there are any other options. I am not looking for the down and dirty, hard core science details of such a weapon, rather the simple and basic. What weapons (real or fictional) would be able to match the lightsaber in its usefulness and functionality?


Note

To be clear, questions like this are very common on the site, with the correct answer often being the one that provide either the most options or the most detailed answer. 1 2 3 4

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    $\begingroup$ 'As bad as we all want a real lightsaber, let's be realistic. We'd cut off our own hand in a week.' - Honest Trailer Voice $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Dec 23 '16 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon or accidentally destroy the house $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Dec 23 '16 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion they tend to have difficulty cutting through blast doors or folding into themselves. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Dec 23 '16 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion what? not using just a regular sword? $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Dec 23 '16 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ There are numerous questions on here about lightsaber physics, for example here and here and to an extent here. If you're asking for how to produce the function of a lightsaber I'm certain this is a dupe. If you're asking for a weapon that only matches them in practicality, that could be made clearer. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Dec 23 '16 at 2:13
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Force fields as weapons

You know after the first prequel came out I came up with a working hypothesis about how lightsabers operated, it was completely different than the official method. They showed they had the capabilities to produce force field with variable passage (blaster bolts go out but not in). I had assumed lightsabers were just a super hot plasma contained in a elongate ellipsoid forcefield that let any matter in but only let a small amount back out. a light saber can stop a lightsaber becasue the two fields repel. Their power source last forever because so much of the heat is conserved because it cannot escape. That would explain how they don't burn the wielder and how it carves such neat holes instead of creating a fountainous spray of molten material like a plasma cutter does.

Now you can use that as is or take the next step and use force field based weapons without bothering with plasma. Imagine if you could creating a cutting edge made of wedge shaped force field or even a planar one. The cutting edge is no longer restricted by atoms or bonding strength but on how precise your mathematics and emitters are. You can make a subatomic cutting edge, that would cut through normal matter like butter. And instead of a burnt hole you would just have perfect planar cut out fantasy anime, were the object is cut with no visible marks until it falls apart.

for comparison the blades for preparing electron microscope slides are a few hundred atoms wide and will cut through your hand as easily as they cut air. At subatomic edges you could cut anything as easily as cutting air, except another force field. Forcefield could also be used to get other shapes so you are not limited to sword shapes, in fact a bet the cutting fields would have a huge number of industrial uses.

bonus dialogue for the force swords: What's that weird fizzy glow along the sword edge when you swing?

Oh, well most of the time it just cleaves atomic bonds but every so often it hits an atomic nucleus and fissions it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Reminds me of Death's sword in the Discworld books, the blade was invisible but if you waved it about you could see it from the glow of atoms in the air it cut. $\endgroup$ – Josh King Dec 23 '16 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ I always loved pratchett's works, so full of ideas. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 23 '16 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ This is a pretty darn good explanation. Would plasma really be powerful enough to just destroy matter like that, though? I'd think depending on the material you'd encounter some that just vaporize and others that take a lot of time. $\endgroup$ – thanby Dec 24 '16 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ well of course it would depend on the temperature of the plasma. That's why I like the force field idea the difference in force between a human swing and the small number of atomic bonds it will encounter means it will cut solid steel as easily as it cuts air. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 24 '16 at 21:01
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Melee Energy Weapons

Light/Laser

Handle sends out a focused beam of light, and reflects it back into itself using a handwavium field. The reason why the field has to be handwavium is because typically force fields and other energy shields tend to let light through otherwise they look opaque and rather boring. So the field would have to let light through so the blade has the cool glow to it, but still contain the large amounts of light/laser that is bouncing around in the blade.

Plasma

Many lightsaber explanations I have seen fall under this category. Handle shoots out a hot stream of plasma, and an energy shield reflects it back towards the handle creating a fountain like effect. The plasma keeps circulating over the length of the blade, and as long as it is not slicing things it is using minimal energy. The shield does not allow energy to pass through it, but solid matter can. As a result it reflects energy bolts from blasters, and prevents other energy shields like other lightsabers from passing through them.

Electric

Start with a taser that produces a small electric arc and take it up to 11. Using a field of some kind to override the behavior of electricity it forces an electric arc to form a tall arc before coming back to the handle. Anything that gets in the way of the arc gets cooked.

Chemical

Think blow torch. Using a tank of pressurized highly volatile fluid or gas it creates a long narrow flame. The reach is normally limited, but with a sci-fi setting it could be made to have a longer flame. Since it requires a tank of fuel it is not really a practical weapon, but it is something that we do have in the real world.

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If you assume your series has Warp Drive or other similar space-time manipulation; the general way these "engines" work is by changing space-time in front of them to "suck" the ship forward; essentially moving space around them.

So what does this have to do with a saber?

You could have a "Warp sword" which manipulates the space around it, allowing it to pass through a distorted version of the object. The distorted space can essentially shrink the sword relative to the thing it is slicing, allowing it to effortlessly cleave through the material because the blade could be (essentially) subatomic relative to the thing its cutting.

Why does it glow? Maybe it's never "off", so the light in the area around it is being distorted. Why is it short ranged? Maybe the warp engine only allows for that rough distance of manipulation.

NOTE: I'm not sure what happens if two warp swords hit eachother, but one could hand-wave that they each are in the same dimensionality of space; making them hit eachother like normal swords.

Also NOTE: These will not deflect bullets, blasts, etc very well, but will do everything else better than a light saber.

EDIT: sorry for the extreme necro. I got messed up by the side panel..

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