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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Distrans  
  Device produces a temporary neural imprint on the nervous system of Chiroptera or birds.  

In Dune, a variety of animals from earth have been introduced. Bats are used as message carriers. But Frank Herbert has a great twist on the idea of tying a message to the leg of a pigeon.

This is such a striking idea; it meets the author's need to present a medieval society that nevertheless uses space travel. A bat is also an animal more in keeping with the dark tone of the novel

"We will fight in the time of fighting," the man said. He reached beneath his robes, brought out a small cage, lifted a creature from it.

Hawat recognized a tiny bat ... Saw its blue-within-blue eyes.

The Fremen stroked the bat, soothing it, crooning to it. The man took a tiny tube, held it beside the bat's head and chattered into the tube; then, lifting the creature high, he threw it upward.

The Fremen folded the cage, thrust it between his robe...

From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965
Additional resources -

The creature's normal cry then carries the message imprint which can be pulled out of the normal cry (carrier wave) by a matching distrans unit carried by another person.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Dune
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

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