A holographic android is, as I understand it, a robot in humanoid shape, capable of disguising itself as a real human/humanoid being via built-in holographic projectors.

I assume the concept of holographic android first appeared in the books, as it's always been in sci-fi.

So far I've encountered only two depictions of the subject, both from other media:

  1. Anime - Combat android from anime short 'Deprive' from the anthology 'Robot Carnival' (1987)

  2. Videogames - PROXY holodroid from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008)

My question is, what was the first sci-fi work (most likely, in the form of literature) that featured holographic android? Who was the author and how was that android depicted?

  • There was also the chief bad guy in the 1995 movie Tank Girl, who ended up as a robot body with a holographic head.
    – Joe L.
    Apr 1 '16 at 5:23
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    I never thought about it before, but in a way the holographic disguise thing is a modern take on the old witchcraft idea of glamour.
    – Joe L.
    Apr 1 '16 at 12:30
  • I also learned that Winter Soldier from Marvel comics has a holographic projector intergrated in his bionic left arm, so that he could project human skin as a disguise. Still, far from full-body holographic android.
    – daishi424
    May 12 '16 at 6:43
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    Surprisingly, while TVTropes has pages for both Robotic Reveal and Holographic Disguise, it doesn't have a page for the combination of the two. Feb 13 '19 at 21:09

If you are looking for something where the Android's disguise is specifically described as "holographic," that means it would have to be a work from after the invention of optical holograms in 1962. (Electron microscopy holograms are older, dating to the Nobel-winning work of Dennis Gabor in the 1940s, but the results cannot be viewed with the naked eye.) However, the idea of a humanoid entity creating a life-like human face disguise is incredibly old in folklore. For example, Japanese mujina badgers were sometimes believed to be able to project illusionary human faces when they walked upright in two legs.

In science fiction dealing with robot though, there is one very influential early example of an adroid/gynoid using an three-dimensional illusion of a human face to cover its mechanical one. That example is Metropolis, both the legendary 1927 film directed by Fritz Lang and probably also the original 1925 novel by Lang's wife Thea von Harbou.

In the film (at least the version I saw decades ago; the film was edited down several times, and only relatively recently has the vast majority of the excisions been restored), the gynoid robot ("Maschinenmensch," or "machine person") played by Brigitte Helm can project a convincing illusion of the appearance of the woman Maria, as she riles up the crowds of oppressed workers from the city's lower levels.

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