Glossary/Dictionary of Science Fiction Ideas, Technology and Inventions
( 3316 Inventions Available)

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Device Name Book/Story Author Date
R. Daneel Olivaw
A human-like robot, skilled in police work.
Caves of Steel Asimov  1953
R2-D2 (Artoo-Detoo)
Now the generic term for a small, maneuverable robot.
Star Wars Lucas  1976
Rabbit-Paper
A paper pregnancy test that showed immediate results.
The Game Players of Titan Dick  1963
Rachag
A caffeine-style stimulant.
Dune Herbert  1965
Radar Mesentery
A thick covering that supports a network of sensors.
This Immortal Zelazny  1966
Radiant
A chip that is injected into the shoulder, providing positioning and information about the subject.
The Houses of Iszm Vance  1954
Radiant Power Receptor (DeKalbs)
A device which received and used energy transmitted from a station or satellite.
Waldo Heinlein  1942
Radiant Shield
A device that would effectively prevent an implanted radiant from being detected or read.
The Houses of Iszm Vance  1954
Radiation Garment
Clothing worn by ordinary citizens to reduce the risk of radiation exposure.
Waldo Heinlein  1942
Radiation Shield
A clever use for the water you need to take anyway.
The Ultimate Weapon Campbell  1936
Radio Meteor Detector
A device carried by space ships that could detect meteors in space early enough to avoid them.
Islands of Space Campbell  1931
Radioactive Coding for Checks
Special coding system to easily recognize checks.
The Door Into Summer Heinlein  1956
Radioactive Ruin
The aftermath of atomic war is generations of ruin.
The World Set Free Wells  1914
Radio-Dirigible Torpedo
A drone missile that is controlled remotely by an operator.
Triplanetary Smith  1934
Radio-Facsimile Receiver
A device that prints a newspaper in your home.
Ben Gleed, King of Speed Wilcox  1939
Radium Salt
Radioactive materials used as an assassination weapon.
Murder in the Void Hamilton  1938
Radium-Action Lighter
A personal device used to ignite tobacco products.
The Worlds of Tomorrow Wellman  1940
Radson Skimmer
A small vehicle designed for a small number of passengers; capable of low, slow flight.
This Immortal Zelazny  1966
Raisin
A small device like a hearing aid that fits inside the external part of the ear; combines an intelligent agent and wireless access to the network.
Nanotime Kosko  1987
Ram Field
A specialized version of the hydrogen-gathering field for a Bussard Ramjet.
Protector Niven  1973
Ramrobot
An autonomous interstellar exploration craft using gathered hydrogen for fuel.
A Gift From Earth Niven  1968
Ramsbotham Gate
A means of getting from point A to point B without traversing the space in-between.
Tunnel in the Sky Heinlein  1955
Ramscoop
An enormous magnetic field precedes a spaceship moving through space, directing interstellar hydrogen inward for use as fuel.
World of Ptavvs Niven  1965
Randominoes
Dominoes that randomly generate new numbers.
Nymphomation Noon  2000
Rapid-Transit Hover Blimp
Public transportation for a paranoid age.
Galactic Pot-Healer Dick  1969
Rat Thing
A guard cyborg created from a living animal.
Snow Crash Stephenson  1992
Rat-Robot
A small remotely-operated surveillance robot.
Anything You Can Do Garrett  1962
Raw Material-Tropic
Moves towards desirable raw materials.
Autofac Dick  1955
Ray gun
A weapon that projects a beam of destructive force.
The Messiah of the Cylinder Rousseau  1917
Ray Gun (Handheld)
A weapon shaped like a handgun that shoots rays of energy.
The Black Star Passes Campbell  1930
Ray Pistol
A handheld device for projecting radiative force of some kind.
The Black Star Passes Campbell  1930
Raytron Apparatus
A device for aerial surveillance; the image was transmitted back to the user.
Beyond the Stars Cummings  1928
Razorback
Autonomous motorcycle weapons platform.
Daemon Suarez  2009
Reaction Pistol
A hand-held device for maneuvering in zero gravity in a space suit.
Diamond Planetoid Giles  1937
Reaction-Motors
A spacecraft engine that works by firing matter out at high speed.
Twelve Hours To Live Williamson  1931
Reactive Walls
Wall surfaces designed for use in clubs; they reacted to the music played in the room.
Freezone Shirley  1985
Reading Machine
A projector which showed text on a screen or the ceiling for easy reading.
Stranger in a Strange Land Heinlein  1961
Reading Plaque
A tablet-sized display for reading.
Earth Brin  1990
Reading Plate
A flat screen that provided computer output for viewing.
The Star Beast Heinlein  1954
Readout Skin
Normal-appearing skin that can be used as an output device for text or graphics.
Steel Beach Varley  1992
Reality Graphics
One-stop design - the final design is the object.
A Fire Upon The Deep Vinge  1992
Reality Tape
The medium upon which the life experience of an electric ant - a robotic person - is presented.
The Electric Ant Dick  1969
Reason Hypervelocity Railgun
Multichamber weapon accelerates tiny splinters of metal.
Snow Crash Stephenson  1992
Receptor Tape
A thin, flexible material that can pick up sounds.
The Face Vance  1979
Reciprocal Name
A nickname or familiar name used to specify a more completely defined full name and telephone number.
The Age of The Pussyfoot Pohl  1966
Recoil Pistol
A handheld device that permits a spaceman to manuever in zero gravity.
Exiles of the Moon Schachner (w. AL Zagat)  1931
Recorded Books
Electronically recorded books.
Foundation and Empire Asimov  1952
Recorded News
This is the basic idea behind Tivo and VCRs.
In the Year 2889 Verne  1889
Recorded Personalities
Computer firmware that saves a person's characteristics and reactions.
Mona Lisa Overdrive Gibson  1988
Recording Eye
A surveillance device that can survive being dropped from space; transmits images in a wide view.
The Man in the Maze Silverberg  1969
Recording Radio
A handheld device that both recorded sound and transmitted it live to a remote broadcasting location.
Four-Day Planet Piper  1961
Recycler
A surgically implanted device that enables a diver to obtain oxygen directly from seawater.
Starfish Watts  1999
Red Weed (Terraforming Plant)
A plant brought by the Martians that grew on Earth.
The War of the Worlds Wells  1898
Reflectocosmic Spectrometer
A device that detects and measures cosmic rays that reflect from different metals.
Buck Rogers, 2430 AD Nowlan (w/D. Calkins)  1929
Refreshing Chamber
Replaces the bathroom in the future history of Robert Heinlein.
Coventry Heinlein  1940
Refrigeration Tape
A strip of material that can be used to keep large tracts of tundra nicely frozen.
Tower of Glass Silverberg  1970
Refurbished Nervous System
Your nerves are rewired for 5-10 times the speed of a normal person.
The Stars My Destination Bester  1956
Regen-Buds
Small collection of cells that can regrow into human limbs.
The Velvet Glove Harrison  1956
Regeneration Tank
A nutrient bath large enough to enclose a person that preserved life and treated disease.
Contagion MacLean  1950
Reggie the Bartending Machine
A mechanism able to mix drinks; a robot bartender.
The Outpost Resnick  2002
Relations with Extraterrestrial Life
Instructions to earth citizens on how to behave when encountering alien civilizations.
Ogre Simak  1944
Relay
A central information system used to coordinate all of human culture and technology.
Souvenir Dick  1954
Remote (or Seeker Remote)
A training aid for use by Jedi knights.
Star Wars Lucas  1976
Remote Control Taxicab
A cab that is piloted by a remote operator.
The Unreconstructed M Dick  1957
Remote Telepresence Robot
A very early depiction of this basic idea.
Buck Rogers, 2430 AD Nowlan (w/D. Calkins)  1929
Remote-Cast Snooper
A small, easily concealed poison snooper.
Dune Herbert  1965
Remote-Control Slavery
Mental control (possibly mediated by radio waves) of individuals of other species.
The Man in the Maze Silverberg  1969
Remotely Operated Auto-targeting Gun (ROAG)
A weapon able to pick out its own targets; it's action can be remotely initiated.
Quantico Bear  2007
Repair Drone
Autonomous robots repair damage or sabotage.
Neuromancer Gibson  1984
Repair Drones
Small flying construction and repair machines.
The Two Faces of Tomorrow Hogan  1979
Repair Robots
Autonomous robots that carry out maintenance functions on a space ship.
The Invincible Lem  1954
Repellor Anti-Gravity Rays
Device provides support for planet-side air travel.
Armageddon: 2419 A.D. Nowlan  1928
Replaced Worker Benefits
Compensation for people whose jobs are taken by robots.
Spark Twelve Hawks  2014
Replicant
An android; an artificial human being.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Dick  1968
Reporting Machine
A robotic roving reporter.
The Simulacra Dick  1964
Repulsor
A device that inhibits the action of a spacewarp drive.
What Mad Universe Brown  1949
Repulsor Screen
Diverts troublesome asteroids.
Crystalized Thought Schachner  1937
Residual Poison
A poison that, once administered, resides in the body; only regular intake of the antidote keeps the person alive.
Dune Herbert  1965
Resilian
A natural fiber that is as strong as steel.
The Howling Bounders Vance  1949
Resting Pits
Limits Niven  1985
Restraining Bolt
A device that makes sure a robot does what you want (rather than what it wants).
Star Wars Lucas  1976
Retaliatory Tapeworm (Counter-Worm)
Using computers to deliberately damage another person's reputation and well-being.
The Shockwave Rider Brunner  1975
Retinal Implant
An implanted device that can record and transmit what the person sees.
The Neutronium Alchemist Hamilton  1997
Retinal Projection
A method for projecting advertisements directly on the retina.
The Space Merchants Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth)  1952
Retinal Vid-Screen
A tiny display surgically implanted directly in the retina of the eye.
Sales Pitch Dick  1954
Retro-Rockets
Small boosters to provide a thrust counter to the current velocity of the spacecraft, slowing it down or stopping its progress altogether.
From the Earth to the Moon Verne  1867
Reversal Coils
Provide both entry into a negative universe and propulsion.
The Infinite Enemy Williamson  1938
Revitalizer Console.
A kind of automated medical marvel; it optimizes your body chemistry for better health, tops off your fluids, etc.
Millenium Varley  1983
Rewriting History
Use of sophisticated technology to continuously rewrite the historical record.
1984 Orwell  1948
Rex Regenerator (Mechanotherapist)
Mechanotherapy device cures homicidal urges.
Bad Medicine Sheckley  1956
Rhennius Machine
Device of alien manufacture, which will reverse, or turn inside out, any object passed through its mobilator.
Doorways in the Sand Zelazny  1976
Rhetorizer
A computerized assistant for writers.
The Penultimate Truth Dick  1964
Ribbon World
A planet that presents the same face to its sun has a small habitable area - the ribbon between light and dark.
Foundation and Empire Asimov  1952
Riding Robot
A single person means of bipedal transportation.
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge Harrison  1970
Ridulian Crystal Sheets
Exceptionally strong, surpassingly thin material.
God Emperor of Dune Herbert  1981
Rifle Range (Virtual Shooting Range)
Virtual skeet shooting gallery with clay pigeon traps created by aliens.
Way Station Simak  1963
Right Angle Projectile
A missile that turns at right angles after being fired.
The Mad Metropolis High  1966
Rigid Metallic Clothing
An early exoskeleton.
A Conquest of Two Worlds Hamilton  1932
Ring Road
A magnetically levitated train.
Starman Jones Heinlein  1953
Ringworld
A 50 foot thick ribbon of matter around a star, a million miles across and as long as Earth's orbital circumference.
Ringworld Niven  1970
RNA Shots
An injection prepared from the tissues of a person with knowledge or experience that you need.
A World Out of Time Niven  1976
Roachster
A genetically-engineered vehicle based on arthropod DNA; uses implanted control structures.
Sparrowhawk Easton  1990
Robant
A robotic servant.
The Impossible Planet Dick  1953
Robant Bill Collector
A robot designed to collect overdue bills, no matter what.
Now Wait For Last Year Dick  1966
Robass
A robotic beast of burden.
The Quest for Saint Aquin Boucher  1951
Robbie
A childcare robot.
Robbie Asimov  1940
Robobug
A cyborg insect.
The Golden City Twelve Hawks  2009
Robodore
A robot specialized for use as a stevedore, emptying the contents of ships in port.
Robot Unwanted Keyes  1952
Robofish (Mitsubishi Robot Turbot)
A powerful, meter-long robotic fish used to take samples from liquid lakes on other worlds (like Titan).
Slow Life Swanwick  2002
Robomule
The robotic equivalent of a mule.
Bill the Galactic Hero Harrison  1965
Robopark
An automated parking garage.
Methuselah's Children Heinlein  1941
Roboscribe
A robotic writer of hard-bitten detective yarns.
End as a Robot Marsten  1954
Robot
A (usually human-shaped) artifact with the same kinds of abilities as a human - this is the first use of the word 'robot'.
R.U.R. Capek  1920
Robot Bar
A combination bartender and bar; a robot capable of dispensing beverages.
Bill the Galactic Hero Harrison  1965
Robot Bartender
An automated, mechanical bar tending robot.
The Stars My Destination Bester  1956
Robot Biomimicry
Endowing robots with an organic-appearing fluidity, rather than mechanical motion.
The War of the Worlds Wells  1898
Robot Bird
A small winged UAV that can mimic a bird in flight.
Invader on My Back High  1968
Robot Bus
An autonomous vehicle to transport groups of people.
The Little Things Kuttner  1946
Robot Busboy
A robotic device able to autonomously clear tables in a restaurant.
Lies, Inc. Dick  1964
Robot Cab Driver
You think you have problems? Robots have the worst problems of anyone.
A Present for Pat Dick  1952
Robot Cells (Crystal-Shaped Modules)
Minute dodecahedral units that could combine into different shapes to become full robots.
Isaac Asimov's Odyssey : Robot City: Book1 Kube-McDowell  1987
Robot Chef
Creative, autonomous robotic cook.
Robinc Boucher  1943
Robot Comedian
Joke-telling feature added to a standard butler robot.
The Jester Tenn  1951
Robot Control Board
Control panel with small screens showing the point of view of different robots.
The Robot Master Beckwith  1929
Robot Cook
A household robot that can cook meals.
Helen O'Loy del Rey  1938
Robot Crab
An automated gardener.
Neuromancer Gibson  1984
Robot Door
Automated door has some decision-making capabilities, in addition to speech recognition capabilities.
Colony Dick  1953
Robot Earthworm
Autonomous swarming robots the size of earthworms, with similar earth-digging capabilities.
War With The Robots Harrison  1962
Robot Emotions
Devices or techniques that give rise to emotions in robots.
Helen O'Loy del Rey  1938
Robot Factory Representative
An ambulatory agent of an automatic factory.
Autofac Dick  1955
Robot Farmer
A humanoid robot used for agriculture.
The Turning Wheel Dick  1954
Robot Gardener
An autonomous gardening robot, taking care of plants in parks or fields.
War Veteran Dick  1955
Robot Gas Station
An entirely automated station for dispensing fuel to consumer vehicles.
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said Dick  1974
Robot Guard
Very early reference to a guard robot.
The Turning Wheel Dick  1954
Robot Gun
An automated gun; typically used for sentry duty.
Aliens Foster  1986
Robot Handlers
Small robots used in spacecraft for a variety of useful tasks.
The Golden Globe Varley  1998
Robot Judge
Artificially intelligent legal machine - robes and all.
Robot Justice Harrison  1959
Robot Lawn Mower
An automated lawn mower.
City Simak  1944
Robot Librarian Filer
A device that works as a librarian, automatically filing books in the stacks.
The Robot Who Wanted to Know Harrison  1962
Robot Manumission
The freeing of a robotic being from a state of being owned property.
Robot Unwanted Keyes  1952
Robot Mice
Tiny cleaning robots.
The Martian Chronicles Bradbury  1950
Robot Mother
A self-replicating robot, which creates a series of helper bots that adapt to conditions as needed.
The Mechanical Mice Hugi  1941
Robot Observatory
A fully automated astronomical observatory, placed on a planet (typically, one that does not support human life).
Space Rating Berryman  1939
Robot Pianist
A robot learns the fine art of playing classical music on the piano.
Virtuoso Goldstone  1953
Robot Pope
An artificially intelligent robotic cardinal ascends to the Throne of St. Peter.
Good News From the Vatican Silverberg  1971
Robot Probes (Arr-twos)
Remote controlled robots that wander through a facility, bringing pictures and information to a central location.
Oath of Fealty Niven (w/J. Pournelle)  1981
Robot Psyche Tester
An automated psychiatric evaluation device.
Colony Dick  1953
Robot Ramp
A special means of ingress and egress solely for use by mechanical help.
Robot Unwanted Keyes  1952
Robot Revolt
Robots to throw off the yoke of Man?
The Exile of Time Cummings  1931
Robot Situation Neurosis
Robots go mad when given competing instructions.
The Unreconstructed M Dick  1957
Robot Snake Spy
A small robot in the shape of a snake, used for field work by spies.
Mariposa Bear  2009
Robot Spectra Analyzer
Device used to find ones position in real space.
The Repairman Harrison  1959
Robot Spider (Handling Machine)
Multipurpose device used almost as an extension of the Martian's own bodies.
The War of the Worlds Wells  1898
Robot Strike
When robots refuse to work.
Robots of the World! Arise! Wolf  1952
Robot Suicide
A robot decides to commit suicide, and sets up a mechanism to put his decision into effect.
Adam Link's Vengeance Binder  1940
Robot Surgeon
An autonomous robotic surgeon.
The Bicentennial Man Asimov  1976
Robot Surgeon-Hand
A skilled surgical robot that attaches at the end of the surgeon's arm.
War Veteran Dick  1955
Robot Taste Buds
A sensor for robots that would allow it to taste foods like a human being.
Robinc Boucher  1943
Robot Taxi
A taxicab with a robotic driver.
Solar Lottery Dick  1955
Robot Tracking Device
Small UAV robot remotely operated by an artificially intelligent computer.
Vulcan's Hammer Dick  1960
Robot Trash Collectors
Robots that drive and operate garbage trucks.
The Velvet Glove Harrison  1956
Robot Vending Machine
Machinery displaces news boys selling papers on street corners.
The Prince of Space Williamson  1931
Robot Voice
A voice box for a robot that is an analog of the human voice system.
Catch That Rabbit Asimov  1944
Robot Waiter
Robotic restaurant servitor.
The Death Cloud Schachner (w. AL Zagat)  1931
Robot Waiter
Robotic restaurant servitor.
The Death Cloud Schachner (w. AL Zagat)  1931
Robot With Human's Brain
A very early example of encasing a human brain in a robotic body.
Revenge of the Robot Kline  1936
Robot-Deranger
A device that confuses the cognitive functions of robots.
The Exile of Time Schachner (w. AL Zagat)  1931
Robotic Abattoir
Robots with knives in a meat-packing plant.
Freedom's Landing McCaffrey  1996
Robotic Animals
Artificial animals created using robotic elements.
Reunion on Ganymede Simak  1938
Robotic Arm
A specialized robotic reaching and grasping device.
City Simak  1944
Robotic Chess Expert
A robot that plays chess at a level that no human can match.
First He Died (Time and Again) Simak  1951
Robotic Conductor
A robot charged with conductor's duties aboard a bus or other public transportation.
Paycheck Dick  1953
Robotic Dishwasher
A fully automated solution to the dishwashing problem.
The Martian Chronicles Bradbury  1950
Robotic Eel
A five-foot long artificial eel, controlled by an operator.
Re:Set Beetlestone  2012
Robotic Hand
A dexterous manipulator for robots.
The Door Into Summer Heinlein  1956
Robotic Horse - Faithful Cybernetic Companion
A robot that is specifically designed to closely resemble a horse.
The Warlock in Spite of Himself Stasheff  1969
Robotic Law Tape Safety Valve
A specific impulse that warns robots contemplating breaking the laws set forth for their behavior.
Robot Unwanted Keyes  1952
Robotic Trash Can
A sensor-equipped waste can capable of autonomous cleaning - and legal judgement.
Robot Justice Harrison  1959
Roboticist
A person who works on robots.
Evidence Asimov  1946
Roboticist
A person who creates or works with robots.
Robot AL-76 Goes Astray Asimov  1941
Robotics
The engineering field encompassing the creation and maintenance of robots.
Liar Asimov  1941
Robotnik Automated Hotel
A fully-automated hotel; no human interaction required.
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge Harrison  1970
Robots Refuse To Serve Man
When robots evolve their own perspectives, and ultimately refuse to act as servants to human beings.
The Mentanicals Flagg  1934
Robutler
A robotic butler.
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge Harrison  1970
Rocket Cruiser
A privately owned space ship.
The Worlds of Tomorrow Wellman  1940
Rocket Engine Moves Moon
Using the propulsive mechanism of a space ship to move a small moon or asteroid.
The Space Dwellers Gallun  1929
Rocket Gun
In essence, a bazooka.
Armageddon: 2419 A.D. Nowlan  1928
Rocket Liner
A rocket designed for point-to-point Earth journeys; it goes well into the stratosphere.
Exiles of the Moon Schachner (w. AL Zagat)  1931
Rocket Pine
Genetically engineered trees for wood pulp.
The Human Blend Foster  2010
Rocket Pistol
Using pistol rounds to maneuver in space.
Buck Rogers, 2430 AD Nowlan (w/D. Calkins)  1929
Rocket Racing
Use of reaction mass vehicles for races held within the solar system.
Habit del Rey  1939
Rocket Side Tubes
An early description of attitude jets, course correction by small emissions of gas.
Evans of the Earth-Guard Hamilton  1930
Rocket Tug
The equivalent of a tug boat for space ships.
Crystalized Thought Schachner  1937
Rocket-Belt
A single-user propulsion pack.
The Worlds of Tomorrow Wellman  1940
Rocketeer
A person who pilots rockets.
Sunward Flight Zagat  1943
Rocket-Polo
Polo played with rocket-powered craft.
Ra For The Rajah Peterson  1938
Rod
In a fight, it is used in a manner similar to a sword and a flamethrower.
Wolfling Dickson  1969
Rod of Wrath
A sword made of light.
Gather, Darkness! Leiber  1943
Rogue Planet
A planet without a sun, it wanders through galactic space.
Satan's World Anderson  1967
Rogue World
A celestial nomad, a planetary body that is not tied to a particular sun.
Dying of the Light Martin  1977
Rolem (Wrestling Robot)
A robotic wrestling companion.
This Immortal Zelazny  1966
Roller
Two passenger vehicle designed for off-road use on alien planets.
Shadow World Simak  1957
Rolling Road
A set of fast-moving strips to move people over distances.
The Roads Must Roll Heinlein  1940
Rolov
A specialized robot for the bedroom.
Roll Out the Rolov! Anvil  1953
Rooftop Windmill
Renewable energy source for the home.
A Journey In Other Worlds Astor IV  1894
Rotated Solid Space Habitat
A solid version of a artifact rotated to achieve artificial gravity.
Iron Anderson  1989
Rotating House
A single family home built upon a central pivot; it can be turned at will.
The Godmakers Herbert  1972
Roujin Z-0001 Robotic Bed
A fully automated hospital bed and transport robot.
Roujin Z Otomo  1991
Roving Bomb
Special zero-gee guided bomb.
Lost Rocket Wellman  1941
Ro-Womb
Device enfolds the patient during therapy.
The Dream Master Zelazny  1966
Royalties For Imitation Learning Subjects
A payment to people who are used as subjects for imitation learning by robots.
Q.U.R. Boucher  1943
Rubber Hoof
Silent running for robot horses.
The Warlock in Spite of Himself Stasheff  1969
Rubber Soled Feet
Silent padding for clanky robots.
Reason Asimov  1941
RUMOKO
A project to create additional land surface by deliberate stimulation of undersea volcanoes.
My Name is Legion Zelazny  1976
Runcible
A book made of smart paper; every page is a flexible LCD (liquid crystal display) screen.
The Diamond Age Stephenson  1995

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Science Fiction
in the News

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