Use this tag for questions about the history of the genre: the origin and evolution of ideas in speculative fiction. Example topics include the first work of speculative fiction with a particular property, or the origin of a term or trope.

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What does the logo of the sci-fi stack exchange show? [migrated]

Basic question. Does it represent something or is it a reference to something?
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67 views

What's the origin of the association of x-ray vision with seeing through clothes?

Mention X-ray vision to anyone and the ability to see through clothes is usually the first thing that comes to mind. The two are nearly synonymous in popular culture. What's the origin of this link? ...
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What is the origin of interstellar human civilisation as a “Federation” in science fiction?

It is a common trope in science fiction that the futuristic human civilisation originating from planet Earth is frequently known as "The Federation". Examples include: The United Federation of ...
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1answer
119 views

What is the first story with a magical Taco?

Being inspired by Cinco de Mayo and the recent in-flux of history-of questions... Are there any stories than involve a magical taco; or if there are numerous stories with magical tacos, What was the ...
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3answers
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What is the first known work of fantasy or legend to feature a magic sword?

Where in known fiction entailing magic—including written and oral forms predating the novel—did the concept of a magical sword first appear? Answers should clearly distinguish between any magic of the ...
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5answers
322 views

What was the first story where a universal constant had a different value?

In some stories, the value of a universal constant is different than it is reality. For example, in Going Postal: 'Something like that, sir, probably, something like that,' said Groat. 'Three ...
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1answer
115 views

What was the first story to feature stopped time?

It's common in science fiction, and occasionally fantasy, to see a device that can stop time. Time travellers on Heroes, such as Peter Petrelli, Nathan "Tommy" Bennet, and Hiro Nakamura can make ...
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4answers
198 views

Who was the first telepath?

Telepathy is a mainstay of modern science fiction and fantasy. Our top six tags (not counting story identification and similar) each feature telepathic characters prominently. Harry Potter: Lord ...
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1answer
92 views

What was the first story in which crucifixes burned vampires?

In many stories, crosses or other religious symbols hurt vampires. In the Shadowhunters books by Cassandra Clare, vampires are weak to whatever religious symbols they believe in. In Buffy the ...
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2answers
92 views

What was the first insect-like robot in fiction?

Insect-sized robots which fly on artificial wings or skitter around on multiple mechanical legs are becoming more and more common as subjects of real-world research and development, but they've been a ...
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2answers
2k views

What is the earliest instance of a motor powered flying vehicle?

We've seen flying cars recently in Harry Potter (flying bikes there too), Back to the Future (and a flying train) and going back to Chitty Bang-Bang. I'm wondering what the earliest instance of a ...
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3answers
117 views

What was the first alien probing?

There have been alien abduction stories for a long time. The aliens that kidnap people may be short gray humanoids with huge eyes, green-scaled lizard people, blond space Nazis, or even bicardiate ...
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1answer
98 views

Last story to feature luminiferous aether

We get a lot of questions here asking what the first story of a certain type is. This is an example of a different sort of question—the last story of a certain type. The luminiferous aether was ...
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5answers
381 views

What is the earliest example of a “Blighted Land” created by human or semi-human activity?

Chernobyl is the ur-example of a real Blighted Land. There is an 18 mile exclusion zone around the melted reactor that is deemed not fit for human habitation (this is of course ignored by animals, ...
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2answers
3k views

What is the earliest story to present man made machines as a threat to humans?

What is the first depiction of man made machines turning against human? I know of Terminator and Matrix but I suppose the theme is much older than those two? EDIT: I'm thinking more about machines ...
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2answers
86 views

Who was the first shapeshifter in fiction?

People or monsters with the ability to change their physical forms are widespread in science fiction and fantasy. This appears in many of the biggest science fiction and fantasy franchises. For ...
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2answers
893 views

Where did the term “chicken walker” come from?

Before I knew the actual names for Scout Walkers or AT-STs, I simply knew them as "chicken walkers", as have many other Star Wars fans. However, I don't know where that term came from, I don't think ...
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2answers
2k views

What was the first plant creature?

Sapient plants are commonly found in sci-fi. Examples include Triffids from "Day of the Triffids," the Green God from the Cthulhu mythos, or the Sapient Pearwood of "Discworld." Sometimes they are ...
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2answers
171 views

What was the first parasite to appear in speculative fiction?

Parasites are a mainstay of modern science fiction and fantasy. From the Yeerks to the Vord to xenormorphs to The Host to GM tapeworms, speculative organisms that feed on other organisms will make an ...
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3answers
150 views

What was the first example of a character who could steal someone else's powers?

Many stories feature powers or abilities that are inherent to an individual, whether fantastic, pseudo-scientific, or perhaps even actually scientific. But sometimes they are not so inherent. ...
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0answers
115 views

Where does the Sci-Fi term “Tyran” come from?

Restating my question, In most of my history with Sci-fi games (Gears,40k,etc) and even on a lackluster sci fi wiki that Tyran is a human (Sci-Fi wiki entry: Tyran-A being who is of Human descent but ...
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5answers
4k views

What is the first instance of a person gaining powers from radiation?

What is the first person to gain their superpowers through exposure to radiation? I am thinking of comic book heroes and ionizing radiation (such as gamma rays) rather than, for example, folklore ...
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2answers
173 views

Are there any alternative origin stories for Batman?

Different comic books, or movie adaptations of comic books, involving the same character (perhaps slightly different versions of them) tend to have similar origin stories. For example, in most (all?) ...
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2answers
2k views

Has John Carpenter commented on The Thing (2011)?

And/or did he in any way collaborate with the 2011 movie? Did he endorse it/the script or anything about it in any way? Has he publicly commented on it in any way?
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2answers
109 views

Who was the first ape in science fiction?

From Planet of the Apes to Gorilla Grodd to Curious George and the Rocket to Joop the Orangutan, apes have a long and varied history in science fiction. But which was the first ape to appear in a ...
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1answer
198 views

Who Came up with the Galactic Barrier Concept?

In specific universes, this is usually explained rather well in universe. But, what I'm looking for here is a more out of universe explanation. Where did the idea of a galactic barrier come from and ...
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140 views

What was the first Giant Monster vs Giant Robot fight?

There's been plenty of Giant Monster vs Giant Robot fights, it's almost its own genre. What started the trend? What was the first Giant Monster vs Giant Robot fight?
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4answers
156 views

Who was the first Chosen One in sci-fi/fantasy?

From Star Wars to Harry Potter having a Chosen One is very common in science fiction and fantasy. What was the first science fiction or fantasy work to feature a Chosen One? I'd preferably like the ...
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5answers
236 views

Who came up with phasing through objects, and how was it supposed to work?

In a recent episode of Flash Wells teaches the title character to "phase through walls". I am not a physicist, but Wells's explanation of how this is done ("if you vibrate at the natural frequency of ...
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4answers
367 views

What was the first work set in space that featured multiple civilizations but no aliens?

One thing that separates Firefly from many other works of science fiction set in space is that there are no aliens. All sentient beings either are or used to be human. However, I very much doubt ...
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3answers
384 views

When was the first driverless car story written?

Reading the question about a future (the future) when non-automatic cars will be illegal, a moment sometimes called the automotive singularity, sparked the question in my mind about when the first ...
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3answers
118 views

What is the earliest worldbuilding fiction?

How old is the worldbuilding phenomenon in writing? What is the earliest writing that can be categorized as such? The worldbuilding wikipedia page says that the term first appeared in 1965; however, ...
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1answer
95 views

What was the earliest science fiction story to use nanotechnology?

What was the first use of nanotechnology in a science fiction story? Richard Feynman gave a lecture "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" in 1959 which defined many of the concepts of the ...
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1answer
129 views

First science fiction TV show

Is the BBC's pre-war live adaptation of Karel Capek's R.U.R., broadcast on February 11, 1938, the first science fiction television show? Originally, I would have thought that the American series ...
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185 views

What was the first urban fantasy book? [closed]

What was the first book that was classified as urban fantasy? Who was the author and when was it published?
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5answers
9k views

Why do zombies eat our brains?

Do we know the first, or at least possibly the most influential, occurrence of zombies targeting humans for our delicious brains? And do we know why they go for that organ specifically?
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3answers
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Who was the earliest female science fiction writer?

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818. I wonder if most readers would consider the book within the science fiction genre. It certainly has claim to the Gothic and horror genres as well. If you do ...
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4answers
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What was the first story describing realistic zero-g during space flight?

Newton's law of universal gravitation has been known since 1686 and it states that gravity is proportional to inverse square of the distance, but never fades to 0. This led to stories where various ...
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1answer
108 views

What's the earliest story where magic precludes technology and vice versa?

Electricity doesn't work well around Hogwarts. In The Anubis Gates, written in 1983 by Tim Powers, there are some areas in space (and time) where magic is stronger and technologic equipment tends to ...
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1answer
532 views

When Odo was sent out as part of the 100 from the Great Link, what gave him amnesia?

We know that Odo was one of the 100 changelings sent out by the Founders to explore the galaxy. We know Odo was found adrift in his natural gelatinous state in the Denorios belt in the Bajoran ...
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4answers
192 views

Who was the first alien “person” or “man”?

It is fairly common nowadays, for example in Star Trek, to refer to aliens collectively as people when they are to some degree similar to humans and fairly relatable. What was the first instance of ...
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What was the first sci-fi themed hit song?

Over the years, there have been many sci-fi themed hit songs, such as Mr. Roboto and The Final Countdown. Which was the first? I would define "hit" as appearing on the Billboard Hot 100, or other ...
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1answer
83 views

What is the first appearance of humanoid robots in science fiction?

What is the first science fiction work to feature a humanoid robot, that is at least partly an artificial intelligence? I don't mean exactly like R. Daniel Olivaw in Isaac Asimov's books, but also ...
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2answers
205 views

First character to speak only one word? [closed]

Hodor from Game of Thrones is the main character that comes to mind. He is only able to say a single word, which happens to be his name. There are many other characters like these in the cinematic ...
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4answers
7k views

What was the first story to be set in the future?

Lots of science fiction stories today are set in the future. Sometimes they give a specific date, like they'll say "AD 2532". Sometimes it's not spelled out but it's obvious, like I'm not sure if Star ...
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0answers
104 views

What do fairies do with human children? [closed]

This question might be too broad but, let me first generalise a bit: No matter the background/story/world vampires drink blood and sparkle, because this sort of diet is necessary for their existence ...
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0answers
170 views

Why was Riverworld so well received when it was published?

I recently finished reading the first two books of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series. It sounds like the book made a major splash when it was published — it won a Hugo award, had several ...
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3answers
584 views

What is the origin of the word “terrans” when referring to humanoids and other earth-related things?

Quite often in science fiction we read an Alien character say: "They're going to the Terran system". "That's a Terran ship." "They're from the planet Terra". I get that Terra is the ...
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0answers
110 views

Is there a precedent for the use of “sol” or other terms for solar day?

In these two questions in Space Exploration Stackexchange the origin and use of the word "sol" to describe a solar day on astronomical bodies besides the Earth are being discussed. Like so many things ...
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4answers
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Who was the first robot to refer to organic lifeforms as “meatbags”?

The term "meatbag" is used by robots (including Bender, from Futurama, and HK-47 from the Knights of the Old Republic games) as a pejorative term for a human or other creature. Where did this term ...