Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"I'm very taken by mythology. I read it at a very early age and kept on reading it. Before I discovered science fiction I was reading mythology."
- Roger Zelazny

Light-Sail Ship  
  A spacecraft that used a huge sail moved by light pressure.  

As far as I know, this is the first use of the phrase, but not the concept.

Earth could have kept her, but the new worlds needed her.

She had to go.

She went by light-sail ship. And she had to cross space—space, where the danger always waits.

...Most space offers no respite, no relay, no rescue, no repair. All dangers must be anticipated; otherwise they become mortal.

Technovelgy from Think Blue, Count Two, by Cordwainer Smith.
Published by Galaxy Publishing in 1962
Additional resources -

By 1964, Smith was simply calling it a "sailship", as in Dead Lady of Clown Town:

It selected a fertilized human embryo, tagged it with the freakish name ‘Elaine,’ irradiated the genetic code with strong aptitudes for witchcraft and then marked the person’s card for training in medicine, transportation by sailship to Fomalhaut III and release for service on the planet.

The idea of a light sail was still unfamiliar when Niven and Pournelle wrote The Mote in God's Eye (1974):

What in Hannigan's Hell was a light sail?
...Blaine snapped up from his reverie and touched his screen controls again. The ship's course appeared on his screen as a pictorial diagram below tables of figures. Rod spoke with effort. "Approved." Then he went back to the impossibly large object on his view screen. Suddenly he took out his pocket computer and scribbled madly across its face. Words and numbers flowed across the surface, and he nodded.
Of course light pressure could be used for propulsion...
A reflecting mirror could use outside light as propulsion and get twice the efficiency. Naturally the mirror should be as large as possible, and as light, and ideally it should reflect all the light that fell on it.
Blaine grinned to himself. He had been nerving himself to attack a space going planet with his half-repaired battle cruiser! Naturally the computer had pictured an object that size as a globe. In reality it was probably a sheet of silvered fabric thousands of kilometers across, attached by adjustable shrouds to the mass that would be the ship proper.
In fact, with an albedo of one— Blaine sketched rapidly.
The light sail would need about eight million square kilometers of area. If circular, it would be about three thousand klicks across. . .
It was using light for thrust, so. . . Blaine called up the intruder's deceleration, matched it to the total reflected light, divided . . . so. Sail and payload together massed about 450 thousand kilograms.

Compare to the starlight sail from The Lady Who Sailed The Soul (1960) by Cordwainer Smith, the solar sail from Sail 25 (1962) by Jack Vance, which has a longer discussion of the topic, and the photonic sail from Think Blue, Count Two (1962) by Cordwainer Smith. Don't miss the solar yacht from Arthur C. Clarke's 1963 short story Sunjammer.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Think Blue, Count Two
  More Ideas and Technology by Cordwainer Smith
  Tech news articles related to Think Blue, Count Two
  Tech news articles related to works by Cordwainer Smith

Articles related to Space Tech
SpaceX Wants A Moonbase Alpha
NASA Wants Self-Driving Or Remote-Controlled Vehicles For Lunar Astronauts
Orbital Mechanics, The Liftoff, The Turnover, The Retrograde Burn
Can A Human Land A SpaceX Rocket On Its Tail?

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

SpaceX Wants A Moonbase Alpha
'And he had been sent with troops, supplies and bombs to command Russia's most trusted post, the Moonbase.'

Vast Apartment Living Will Get Even More Vast
'What is your population', I asked. 'About eighty millions.'

NASA Wants Self-Driving Or Remote-Controlled Vehicles For Lunar Astronauts
'THE autobus turned silently down the wide street of Hydropole. Robot-guided, insulated from noise and cold...'

Elon Musk Says Robotaxis Will Be Ready This August, 2024
'The car had no steering wheel, and no one drove!'

Moonwalkers AI-Controlled Electric Shoes
Now that's power walking that Hugo Gernsback would have approved.

Steve Jobs: 'Capture The Next Aristotle - With AI'
'It was disturbing to think of the Flatline as a construct...'

No Tips! Robotic Food Delivery In Phoenix
'...he rewired the delivery robot so that it would serve him midnight snacks.'

Electric Catamaran 'Explorer Eco 40m' Has 'Solar Skin'
'On went the electric-yacht faster and still faster.'

Orbital Mechanics, The Liftoff, The Turnover, The Retrograde Burn
'...the huge vessel had spun, with a sickening lurch, through a complete half-circle, the instant the power was reversed.'

Harvest Power From Tears And Blinking With Smart Contact Lens
'...he realized that it was not quite a clear lens. Speckles of colored brightness swirled and gathered in it.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.