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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Where did skeletons come from?

I've seen many a movie or read a book with a zombie in it. The first instance of a zombie I can remember is Night of the Living Dead from the 60's. It got me thinking about they decay and such, and I ...
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1answer
76 views

Jay Garrick and Barry Allen

According to ComicVine, Barry Allen named himself after Jay Garrick's Flash. Since they existed in the same universe, what happened to Jay Garrick?
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75 views

First instance of genre protagonists with psychic/connected pet?

I'm reading one book where the protagonist has a psychic bond with her pet, one that helps with hunting and scouting, and some fighting. (Snowdenaelikk and Briel). So I started remembering older ...
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1answer
115 views

Where did the sixteen Colossi come from in the game Shadow of the Colossus?

In the video game Shadow of the Colossus (created by sony in 2005) the main character "wanderer" takes his lover to a distant land and asks a demon to help revive his lover. The demon says that he ...
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1answer
553 views

Whats the origin of “X-mancer” to denote different types of magicians (or similar)

I'm currently reading Erfworld and different kinds of magic users are denoted by names like "Dirtamancer", "Thinkamancer", "Turnamancer" etc. and their fields "Dirtamancy", "Thinkamancy", "Turnamancy" ...
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What's the first appearance of Becoming the Costume on Halloween in literature?

What's the first appearance of Becoming the Costume on Halloween in literature? Something turns people into whatever costume they are wearing.
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1answer
126 views

What Are the Origins of Chocobos From the Final Fantasy Universe?

As any players / fans of the famous video game franchise Final Fantasy can tell you. Chocobos are a big part of the Final Fantasy universe, well maybe not such a big part as they are just a necessity ...
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121 views

Origin of “giveaway eyes for shapeshifters” trope

This use of giveaway eye flashes, changes in colour or iris seems to be a common trope in several series as a way of informing the viewer when a nearby shapeshifter is listening/watching/involved. ...
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9answers
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First appearance of the “wake up from a coma, discover the world has ended” trope?

In The Walking Dead, Rick is shot, goes into a coma, and wakes up to find that the world has ended: In 28 Days Later, Jim is in an accident, goes into a coma, and ...
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0answers
72 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
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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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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
334 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
124 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
203 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
97 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
96 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
143 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
101 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
429 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
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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
910 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
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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
201 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
180 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
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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
191 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
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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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2answers
161 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
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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
254 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
370 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
405 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
126 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
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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 technology,...
3
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1answer
131 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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4answers
188 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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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
2k views

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
112 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
543 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
194 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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2k views

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 ...