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

"People are choosing to allow television and Electronic Arts to do all their imagining for them."
- Peter Watts

Steel Tortoise  
  An all-terrain vehicle, grandfather to the four-wheeler.  

I like the term and the device. It is interesting to note how it is designed to be essentially free of any additional stuff - doesn't need gas, doesn't need maintenance, doesn't have parts designed to be replaceable like tires, and so forth.

He turned and commenced loading his steel tortoise. Under the romantic influence of the classic literature of a bygone day he had considered using a string of burros, but had been unable to find a zoo that would sell them to him...

The vehicle he had chosen was not an unreasonable substitute for burros. It was extremely rugged, easy to operate, and almost foolproof. It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof. These drove a constant- load motor, or, when halted, replenished the storage battery against cloudy weather, or night travel. The bearings were 'everlasting', and every moving part, other than the caterpillar treads and the controls, were sealed up, secure from inexpert tinkering.


Steel Tortoise from 'Coventry' by Robert Heinlein)

It could maintain a steady six miles per hour on smooth, level pavement. When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.

The steel tortoise gave MacKinnon a feeling of Crusoe- like independence.

Technovelgy from Coventry, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1940
Additional resources -

I really think there is a future for a device like this. If you are exploring or trekking, you don't really care how fast you're going. The fact that you are completely free of filling stations gives a remarkable dimension to the vehicle.

On the other hand, you might want to check the entry for sunpower screen. With today's technology, this baby might have more power than you think - a tortoise that could beat the hare fair and square.

For an alternative power source on a similar vehicle, be sure to check out the power-wagon, a creation of Jack Vance in The Last Castle.

Compare also to the solar car from The Man Who Bought Mars (1941) by Polton Cross.

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

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

Steel Tortoise-related news articles:
  - Cool Robots At Dartmouth (And Greenland)
  - Who First Thought About Solar Powered Cars?
  - REX Infantry Robotic Porter Follows Soldiers
  - UM Solar Car Now Also With IBM Research Power
  - Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
  - Lightyear One Solar-Powered Electric Car (Design By Heinlein)
  - Cybertruck The Solar-Powered Steel Tortoise
  - Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
  - Sono Motor's Sion Sun-Powered Car
  - Solar Power Camper Van, As Predicted By Robert Heinlein in 1940
  - Lightyear 0 World's First Production-Ready Solar Car
  - Tianjin Solar Vehicle From Hanergy (2022) Looking Like Heinlein's (1940)
  - Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise

Articles related to Vehicle
More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
Arma Lunchbox-Sized Folding Electric Scooter

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

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

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.