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"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
- Larry Niven

Hush Corner  
  A space made private by canceling sound waves in that area.  

In typical style, the device is worked into the story by comparing it with other hush corners in the narrator's experience.

In this scene from the novel, two rocket pilots argue over hiring an actor to "double" for their boss, an important political figure on Mars.

"Will you excuse us? My friend and I must make heap big smoke."

The suite was equipped with a hush corner, enclosing the autograph and the phone. Broadbent took Dubois by the arm and led him over there; they stood and talked urgently.

Sometimes such facilities in public places like hotels are not all that they might be; the sound waves fail to cancel out completely. But the Eisenhower is a luxury house and in this case, at least, the equipment worked perfectly; I could see their lips move but I could hear no sound.

But I could indeed see their lips move. Broadbent's face was toward me and Dubois I could glimpse in a wall mirror. When I was performing in my famous mentalist act, I found out why my father had beaten my tail until I learned the silent language of lips-in my mentalist act I always performed in a brightly lighted hail and made use of spectacles which-but never mind; I could read lips.

From Double Star, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Doubleday in 1956
Additional resources -

One of the strengths of Heinlein's writing (for me) is his ability to directly connect the culture of the 1930's and 1940's with an era in which space travel is commonplace. He does it in this case by mentioning a mentalist act (mind reading) performed live in a large hall.

This piece of technovelgy predates the term "cone of silence," as used by Frank Herbert. Herbert also deals with the lip-reading problem. You might also be interested in Heinlein's futuristic modifications of the hush-a-phone, an actual invention used in the nineteen-twenties and thirties. Don't forget the Fenton silencer, from Arthur C. Clarke's 1957 short story collection Tales from the White Hart.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Double Star
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Double Star
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Hush Corner-related news articles:
  - MIT Conversation Shielding Like Cone Of Silence
  - Accoustic Cloak Achieves Sonic Invisibility

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