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"I was perfectly satisfied to write science fiction knowing that it would pay very little, that it would be seen by only a very few people."
- Isaac Asimov

Ultraminiature Spy-Circuit  
  Tiny bits of 'smart dust' used as surveillance devices.  

Morrissey, now working the spy screen, said, "We just got a view into another part of their ship. But it faded out again."

Hammell growled. "That's the trouble with these ultraminiature spy-circuits. They drift in like dust motes, but you have no control over where they drift. An air current, or a static charge, can completely foul up your arrangements."

From The Unknown, by Christopher Anvil.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1972
Additional resources -

It's hard to control the distribution of tiny, dust-sized spy devices:

"When Hammell released the spy-circuits, some were drawn into the cruiser down there, and some went elsewhere. How is our general coverage on this part of the planet?"

"Most went elsewhere. We have a wealth of coverage where we don't want it. We've got an inside view of deserted parts of the forest, we're snooping in all the cabins we don't want to be in, we've even got a close-up view of a pot-hole at the bottom of a waterfall, with rocks and gravel grinding around inside; but we still don't have as much overlapping coverage as I'd like of that cruiser."

Compare to the distribution methods used for the recording eyes from Robert Silverberg's 1969 novel The Man in the Maze.

See also the raytron apparatus from Beyond the Stars (1928) by Ray Cummings, the scarab robot flying insect from The Scarab (1936) by Raymond Z. Gallun, the artificial eye drone from Glimpse (1938) by Manly Wade Wellman, eyes from This Moment of the Storm (1966) by Roger Zelazny, copseyes from Cloak of Anarchy (1972) by Larry Niven, the sky ball from A Day For Damnation (1985) by David Gerrold, the drone floater camera from Runaway (1985) by Michael Crichton, the aerostat monitor from The Diamond Age (1995) by Neal Stephenson, the loiter drone from The Algebraist (2004) by Iain Banks and the bee cam from City of Pearl (2004) by Karen Traviss.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Unknown
  More Ideas and Technology by Christopher Anvil
  Tech news articles related to The Unknown
  Tech news articles related to works by Christopher Anvil

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