I was reading Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey and was surprised to come across this passage:

Call it the Star Gate.
For three million years, it had circled Saturn, wating for a moment of destiny that might never come. In its making, a moon had been shattered, and the debris of its creation orbited still.
Now the long wait was ending. On yet another world, intelligence had been born and was escaping from its planetary cradle. An ancient experiment was about to reach its climax.

I say surprised because I'd thought that term originated with the 1994 film.

Was Clarke the first to use that term?

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    I would like to clarify that you are referring to a transportation device of some sort that is called a star gate (or stargate) correct? Otherwise I would expect other non-related works to be cited for simply using the term star gate - for example there are planes called stargate... However, a quick scan of wikipedia tells of a novel published in 1958 called Star Gate that incorporates a "mechanism that enables people to travel between alternate versions of the same world and even meet alternate versions of themselves."
    – Odin1806
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 18:49
  • Also a 1982 novel by Pauline Gedge. It's a fairly obvious construction, after all. Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 19:42
  • In the 1980s Superfriends show, Darkseid and his minions warped through space using "star gates" instead of the more canonical boom tubes.
    – Buzz
    Commented Nov 19, 2017 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


Andre Norton's book Star Gate, predates Clarke, as per Odin1806's comment. What is at issue is whether or not you think the technology in that book is describing the same idea. I think it basically is. Further the idea itself predates Norton, her innovation is to make the Gate capable of reaching different multiverse versions of the world on which it exists. For previous usage though not the term Star Gate, see Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky (1955).


It was very likely - oh the irony - in the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.

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This is an excerpt from the only complete copy ever found, the Papyrus of Ani, from the section "Hymn to Osiris 1":

The stars in the celestial heights are obedient unto thee, and the great doors of the sky open themselves before thee.

In addition, there's Daniel saying about Babylon it literally means "Gate of the Gods", something Wikipedia confirms.

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