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"Does it open a new horizon for my thinking? Does it lead me to think new kinds of thoughts, that I would not otherwise perhaps have thought at all? These qualities are what [make] science fiction ...unique."
- Frederik Pohl

Dark Vapor Bubble  
  A kind of field that keeps an alien base provided with an atmosphere.  

This is an early description of the idea of a force field in a spherical shape, useful for bases in an alien atmosphere.

It'was a scene^ from which even the normal air of Earth had vanished. In its stead was a giant hemispherical bubble of translucent black vapor, whose rounded top Was on a level with where he stood and whose curved sides met the basin wall twenty feet below him.

The great hemisphere of dark vapor looked as fragile as a soap-bubble, yet its gleaming walls never moved in the stiff breeze that rustled through the trees on the bain's rim. Inside the shimmering walls of misty black was a vast area of death.

The thick growth of grass that had carpeted the basin floor was brown and sere, and dotted with the scattered bodies of night-flying birds and big, tropical moths. Small trees and bushes drooped limp and dead, as though blasted by lightning. Where the edges of the.great bubble met the basin walls the line between life and death was as sharply cut as though made by a knife. Every tree branch and palm frond was withered and dead from the point where it entered the vapor.

In the center of the basin floor towered a tall mast of what looked like dark yellow crystal. It branched at the top in an intricate web of curved rods that suggested the skeleton of a giant umbrella, and it was apparently from the tips of these rods that the weird energy streamed to form the great black bubble of death.

The compact mass of mechanism grouped around the base of the mast was the source of the high-pitched vibrations that pulsed in the air, but the glowing coils and spinning parts that made up the apparatus were so infin- itely complex and so utterly alien in their basic principles that Kellar could not even hazard a guess as to their method of operation.

From Man-Jewels for Xothar, by H.G. Wells.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1936
Additional resources -

More details:

Their home planet is a giant world they call Xothar, located deep in the heart of the Dark Nebula in Orion. Our astronomers have for years spec- ulated as to the real nature of that inconceivably-vast, opaque cloud. The black bubble of death down in the basin is a synthetic reproduction of the material that composes the Dark Nebula. It is neither gas, liquid, nor solid, but a strange blending of electrical and chemical elements that form a tenuous variety of matter that is completely unknown to our science.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Man-Jewels for Xothar
  More Ideas and Technology by H.G. Wells
  Tech news articles related to Man-Jewels for Xothar
  Tech news articles related to works by H.G. Wells

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