Science Fiction Dictionary: Ideas, Terms and Technology
( 3902 Inventions Available)

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Device Name Book/Story Author Date
Babble Machine
Not just television - this describes what we call 'the idiot box' (technology and media).
When the Sleeper Wakes Wells  1899
Babel Fish
A living fish which, when placed in your ear, will live there and translate any form of language for you.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Adams  1979
An alien weapon in the form of a language.
Babel-17 Delany  1966
Baby Robot
An infant robot.
Life Everlasting Keller  1934
Bacteria-Destroying Radiation
A special beam that created a sterile field for operations.
Dr. Futurity Dick  1960
Ball and Hammer Ship
Spaceship comprised of two sections connected by a shaft.
Dorsai! Dickson  1960
Ballistic Calculator
An on-board computer for a spaceship to calculate its course and perform other related tasks.
Misfit Heinlein  1939
Nanotechnology devices that throw their weight around.
The Diamond Age Stephenson  1995
A floating, spherical cab.
Earth Rehabilitators, Consolidated Kostkos  1935
Bambakias Hotel
A hotel that wants to exist! It just needs a little help.
Distraction Sterling  1998
Bank Chip
A "smart" credit card.
Mona Lisa Overdrive Gibson  1988
Banning Gun
Shoots a pencil heat ray.
Voyage 13 Cummings  1938
Barber Helmet
Cuts your hair quickly and efficiently.
Ben Gleed, King of Speed Wilcox  1939
A machine that invents randomized stories and can read them out loud or animate them for viewing.
Someday Asimov  1956
A device that scans for nearby medical implants, and allows the operator to take control.
The Human Blend Foster  2010
Barrels of Air
A very early mention of a means for breathing once above the Earth's atmosphere.
The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century Loudon  1828
Barrier (Force Field)
Force-field fence.
Coventry Heinlein  1940
Barytrine Field
Very large scale stasis field.
Troubled Star Smith  1952
Basic Robot Personality
Providing simple personalities to robots.
Simultaneous Worlds Schachner  1938
Bat Wings
The dream of human-powered winged flight becomes a reality - in low gravity, of course.
Limits Niven  1985
A storage device for electricity that could be charged in a very short time.
The Fabulous Riverboat Farmer  1971
Bats' Cave
A natural cavern used by moon colonists for air storage - and entertainment.
The Menace From Earth Heinlein  1957
Battery-Powered 3D Comic Book
A comic book the pages of which were animated by battery power.
The Zap Gun Dick  1965
Battle Integrator
A three-dimensional representation of warfare in space.
The Bureaucrat Jameson  1944
Battle Language
A special-purpose language designed for both clear communication of information related to war, and difficulty of translation.
Dune Herbert  1965
Battle Sphere
An armored space ship using the simplest geometric shape.
The Space Rover Sloat  1932
Battle Tank Display
Three-dimensional display showing tactical information for space battles.
Cities in Flight Blish  1957
A large, null-gravity space used for battle tactics training.
Ender's Game Card  1985
Beam Car
A vehicle like an elevator car, but which travels on a radio and magnetic beam, from the surface of a planet up to a satellite.
Lost City of Mars Vincent  1934
A handheld ray gun.
Murder in the Void Hamilton  1938
Beam-Powered Propulsion
Using a powerful energy source as motive power for a projectile.
The Prince of Space Williamson  1931
Clever name for the space elevator.
Friday Heinlein  1982
Beckerley Electrical Field
An energy field that can protect a city or large area.
Smothered Seas Farley (w/SG Weinbaum)  1936
A sentient creature designed to be a bed.
The Dosadi Experiment Herbert  1977
Bee Cam
Small, airborne, self-guided personal camcorder.
City of Pearl Traviss  2004
Bee Wing
A flapping wing aircraft in use on Mars.
Slacker's Paradise Jameson  1941
Bee Zapper
A laser-based insect remover.
Earth Brin  1990
A handheld radar set, used to find items that have drifted off.
Islands in the Sky Clarke  1952
A hard-shelled dirigible.
Saturn's Race Niven (w/S. Barnes)  2000
Belt Automatic-Equalizers
The wearer's experience of gravity will be just like Earth's.
The Star-Roamers Hamilton  1933
Belt Sword
A piece of very thin material sewn between the two leather sides of a belt.
All Tomorrow's Parties Gibson  1999
A person who was born and raised in the asteroid belt around Sol.
The Warriors Niven  1966
A moving sidewalk.
The Faceless Men Zagat  1948
Bendix Anxiety Reducer
Machine-based psychotherapy.
Bad Medicine Sheckley  1956
Bergenholm Drive
A device that renders a spaceship free of inertia.
Triplanetary Smith  1934
Beta Beam Satellite
Limits Niven  1985
Bethé blasters
Powerful enough to destroy a flying city.
Cities in Flight Blish  1957
An in utero method of reducing human aggression.
Return from the Stars Lem  1961
People who are put in cold-sleep because there is no niche for them in society.
Cantata 140 Dick  1964
Bifocal TV Screen Lenses
Using the bottom lens of bifocals as a TV screen.
Doom Over Venus Hamilton  1940
Big Computer
Just like it says; this computer knows it all.
Millenium Varley  1983
Big Flue
Enormous incinerators serviced directly by helicopter.
Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury  1953
Big Noodle
A vast artificial intelligence system used to process all of Earth's information.
The Divine Invasion Dick  1981
Big Push
A linear accelerator built on a long track; a mass driver.
Limits Niven  1985
Big Screen Control
Display content from your personal device on a large shared screen.
The Age of The Pussyfoot Pohl  1966
Biltong Life Form
Remarkable organic manufacturing aliens, probably indigenous to the Centaurus system.
Pay for the Printer Dick  1956
The first reference to extracting electricity from organic materials.
Gulliver's Travels Swift  1726
Living cloth that constantly adapts itself to the personality and needs of its wearer.
Say Goodby to the Wind Ballard  1970
Bioform House
A house grown from a bioengineered plant.
Sparrowhawk Easton  1990
Bio-Implant (Compensator Chip)
A neural implant that helps an autistic child to live a more complete and useful life.
Hella Gerrold  2020
Biological Circuit Fabrication
Creating an electronic circuit using biologically-based means.
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Unknown  1984
Biological Package Probe
A World Out of Time Niven  1976
Biological Warfare
The use of microorganisms to defeat an enemy; this is the first reference in science fiction that I can find to this concept.
The War of the Worlds Wells  1898
A computer that is made of organic (biological) components, rather than inorganic materials like silicon.
Blood Music Bear  1984
The revolution in biological manufacturing techniques.
The Tels Black  2003
Bionic Arm
An artificial arm that responds in a manner similar to the 'original equipment' item.
Cyborg Caidin  1972
Bionic Legs
Human legs rebuilt and improved.
Cyborg Caidin  1972
A biography that includes actual life experience from the subject; a biographical download.
Count Zero Gibson  1986
A biological robot.
Rendezvous With Rama Clarke  1972
Bird-Like Robots
Robotic birds used in a stage play.
Flamingo: A Drama of A.D. 1950 Heller  1930
Birthing egg
A chamber for in vitro fertilization (IVF), combining the DNA of two people to produce a child, without all the usual bother.
Nanotime Kosko  1987
Black Bag
A medical kit from the future.
The Little Black Bag Kornbluth  1950
Black Coating
A material that absorbs practically all incident light.
Gray Lensman Smith  1942
Black Cube Teaching Machine
A device that offers recorded images, teaching the user.
The Flame From Mars Williamson  1934
Black Smoke
A smoke or vapor dispensed in canisters.
The War of the Worlds Wells  1898
Black square
A device for secret communication.
God Emperor of Dune Herbert  1981
An antisocial networking site.
Halting State Stross  2007
Blackout Gas
Cuts input from the optic nerve.
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge Harrison  1970
Bladder Birds
Alien life well adapted.
Redemption Cairn Weinbaum  1936
Blast Rifle
A gun that creates a short-range energy blast.
Exiles of the Stratosphere Long, Jr.  1937
A device that shoots a beam of energy that destroys whatever is in its path.
When the Green Star Waned Dyalhis  1925
A scorching beam weapon
The Traitor von Rachen  1941
The act of firing a rocket into space.
The Cavern of the Shining Pool Zagat  1937
Blaupunkt Holostage
A three-dimensional tabletop display.
Snake-Eyes Maddox  1986
BLIT (Secret Basilisk)
The Berryman Logical Image Technique can "shock" an AI trained to do pattern recognition.
Blit Langford  1988
A plant engineered to produce a substance that brought out compliant behavior in those who consumed it.
Anathem Stephenson  2008
Bloodhound Machine
Could positively identify a person using their scent alone.
Crimes of the Year 2000 Cummings  1935
Blue Beam
A pitiless pale blue beam of death!
The Reign of the Masters Hamilton  1931
Blue Collar Robot (Self-Repairing)
An autonomous robot required to find its own work.
The Velvet Glove Harrison  1956
Blue Ray of Death
A ray that reduces an organic being to ash instantly.
Across Space Hamilton  1926
Blurbflies (Sing. Blurbfly)
Small robotic/organic advertisers.
Nymphomation Noon  2000
A tree, the pods of which can be grown as boats.
The Houses of Iszm Vance  1954
A place where the ordinary rules of society don't apply; the "next big thing" often comes from these places.
All Tomorrow's Parties Gibson  1999
Boink Biosensor
A hand-held sensor that detects the presence of hazardous biological material.
The Cobra Event Preston  1997
Bokanovsky's Process
A very early description of cloning.
Brave New World Huxley  1932
An highly advanced combat tank controlled by a sophisticated Artificial Intelligence.
Combat Unit Laumer  1960
Very early fictional element, courtesy of metallurgists.
Transactions of Amer Soc for Steel Treating Bain  1926
Bolt Anti-Grav
This device produces a torus-shaped discharge that causes weightlessness.
Sacred Martian Pig (Idris' Pig) St. Clair  1949
Bone Conduction Receiver
A concealed radio receiver.
Sixth Column MacDonald  1941
Bone-Building Compounds
Combat heavy gravity on other planets by building greater bone density in workers and colonists.
A Conquest of Two Worlds Hamilton  1932
Boob Cube
Device for showing three-dimensional news broadcasts.
The Best of all Possible Wars Niven  1998
Book of the Kalends
The ever-changing book without a title; the documented history of a world.
Galactic Pot-Healer Dick  1969
A storage medium for books.
Prelude to Foundation Asimov  1988
A smuggler of books.
Between Planets Heinlein  1951
Boomer Park
Where the baby boomers all went to retire and die.
Nanotime Kosko  1987
A substance that extends human life almost indefinitely.
Ringworld Engineers Niven  1980
Self-reproducing robots; they did not obey Asimov's laws for robots (or any other man-made rules).
Wetware Rucker  1988
Anti-underground bomb shelter ordinance.
Foster, You're Dead Dick  1955
Boring Heat Machine
Takes tunnel boring material and turns it into building material.
The Onslaught From Venus Phillips  1929
The first use of this contraction for "robot".
We All Died At Breakaway Station Meredith  1969
A device that homed in on a person's brain wave pattern; a very specific assassination device.
Cantata 140 Dick  1964
Bounce Tube
A people-sized pneumatic tube system used for short, quick trips in the vertical dimension.
Double Star Heinlein  1956
Brain Erasure
Deleting selected knowledge from the brain using electrical impulses.
The Knowledge Machine Hamilton  1948
Brain Machine
Powerful mechanical computer.
The Eternal Wanderer Schachner  Astounding
Brain Placed In Metal Body
A robotic body with a support system for a connected organic brain.
The Comet Doom Hamilton  1929
Brain Rejuvenation
Erase unnecessary parts of memory to make room for new impressions.
The Message From Space Speaker  1930
A device designed to transport a living human (or alien, if similar) brain.
Murder in the Void Hamilton  1938
Using insects for surveillance.
Kill Decision Suarez  2012
A technique to focus the attention of prisoners on a limited task, precluding the possibility of escape.
Mona Lisa Overdrive Gibson  1988
A neural implant.
Old Man's War Scalzi  2005
Ensures the obedience of robots.
Women's World Cooke  1939
An electronic brain that is able to do problem solving. This idea seems to be the impetus behind current artificial intelligence that seeks to solve problems, rather than to simulate human intelligenc
The Cosmic Blinker Binder  1953
Braking Disks
Used when the ship is falling through a planetary atmosphere.
A Daring Trip To Mars Valier  1931
Breathing Dresses
A special suit and apparatus for survival on the surface of the Moon.
A Honeymoon In Space Griffith  1901
Breed Humans For Machines
Carefully cull the strong, resilient humans in favor of weakness, that the human race might be more adapted to life in the Machine.
The Machine Stops Forster  1909
Brick Moon
An artificial satellite or space station with living quarters for passengers.
The Brick Moon Hale  1869
Briefcase Computer
A portable computer workstation.
Inherit the Stars Hogan  1977
Briefcase Console
A notebook computer
Oath of Fealty Pournelle (w/L. Niven)  1981
Brood Assembly
Artificially intelligent computers that can replicate themselves.
Cities in Flight Blish  1957
Device to ease movement in a zero-gravity environment.
Islands in the Sky Clarke  1952
Broomstick Speedster
A two-seater craft capable of spaceflight; it used radiant power to achieve orbit.
Waldo Heinlein  1942
Browser Paper
A paper-thin computer display.
Rainbows End Vinge  2006
An undersea elevator.
Saturn's Race Niven (w/S. Barnes)  2000
Bubble Armor Space Suit
Steel bubble-shaped space suit.
Agent of Vega Schmitz  1949
Bubble Car
Self-steering, hovering, this is the car of the future.
A World Out of Time Niven  1976
Bubble City
Underwater domes provide living space for large communities.
My Name is Legion Zelazny  1976
Bubble-Gum Pylon
Device used to capture entire vehicles in car chases.
Quantico Bear  2007
A person who as undergone E therapy, and achieved the frontal lobe of their dreams.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Dick  1965
A rigid space station that is shaped like a cylinder, rotated to achieve centripetal gravity.
At the Bottom of a Hole Niven  1966
A compact vehicle for planetary surfaces - like Mercury.
Brightside Crossing Nourse  1956
Bug Chasers
Anti-surveillance devices.
Lies, Inc. Dick  1964
Martian creature for transportation.
The Secret of the Canali Kruse  1938
Bugged Money
American cash with embedded listening devices.
Distraction Sterling  1998
Build A Planet With Asteroids
The idea that it is possible to gather up enough of the asteroids in the solar system to "build" a planet out of the scraps.
And Then the Town Took Off Wilson  1958
Building With Lunar Materials
Using a planet's materials to make what you need.
The Moon is Hell Campbell  1950
A building material, too good to be true, with hidden properties.
Macrolife Zebrowski  1979
Bullet-guard Overalls
Very tough fabric.
Kiln People Brin  2002
Contraction of suburban enclave; an extension of today's gated communities.
Snow Crash Stephenson  1992
Burn the Ship
Utilize parts of the ship as fuel for forward movement.
Around the World in 80 days Verne  1868
Burner Modem
A connection device that can be thrown away if necessary.
The Breach Hill  2020
Bussard Ramjet
Propulsion method that scoops hydrogen atoms from space via electromagnetic fields.
A World Out of Time Niven  1976
Butcher Vegetable
A plant that grows steaks (protein).
Time is the Simplest Thing Simak  1961
Butler-Valet Robot
A gentleman's servant, roboticized.
The Jester Tenn  1951
Buttered Toast Robot
What it says on the tin.
Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury  1953
Tiny disks attached to products in stores that received transmitted ads to share with consumers.
Captive Audience Griffith  1953

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