In Star Trek TOS episodes, interstellar space was divided into large volumes each containing at least several stars. These volumes were identified as sectors and quadrants.



In the TNG era a quadrant became identified as a vast region, a quarter of the entire galactic disc.

Whether sector and quadrant referred to the same type of division or not in a specific work of fiction, they are definitely different words, so the correct answer for sector may not be the correct answer for quadrant.

In any case, TOS was probably not the first space opera to divide interstellar space into quadrants.

In A Life For the Stars James Blish (part of Cities in Flight) 1962, 1963, chapter 4 "Schoolroom in the Sky" Chris deFord is taught galactic history.

In 2289, Earth colonists made contact with a planet of

The Vegan Tyranny, an interstellar culture which, we now know, had ruled most of this quadrant of the galaxy for eight to ten thousand years and was still in the process of expanding.

In 2413, after devastating Vega II, Admiral Alois Hrunta

Led the Third Navy off into an uncharted quadrant with the intention of founding his own interstellar empire.

So are there any earlier uses of quadrants as regions of interstellar space before A Life For the Stars in 1962 & 1963?


1 Answer 1


If we accept Johannes Kepler's Somnium (The Dream) as being the first--or at least amongst the first--SF tales, then the first use of 'quadrant' in a SF story is in this novel written in 1608 (NOTE: It wasn't published until 1634).

The reference appears in the section of the novel titled 'The Hemisphere of the Subvolvans' : "Since these poles of the moon-dwellers are about a quadrant's distance from the Volva, their regions can be delimited both according to poles and according to the Volva" (Emphasis added: p. 22, Dover Edition, 1967).

Kepler wrote this in Latin, so the term he used would of been quadrantem/quadrāns

Kepler also goes on to explain more about quadrants in his note #131 (p. 97, ibid).

This would make the use of the term as used in SF to be slightly over 400 years old :-)

  • wow, I'm amazed it was that long ago! Great answer too btw Commented May 2, 2019 at 3:20

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