This is a (mildly humorous) short "story" I probably read in the 1980s; I recall it being more of a report than an actual story with a plot.

Some scientist is intrigued by the fact that people so often have their eyes closed in flash pictures, and discovers that eyelashes can detect a flash before the light from it actually reaches the eye. From this somehow a FTL device is constructed. (I don't recall if it was a space drive or an ansible.)

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    I know I read this one many years ago. Probably in Analog or Asimov's. I think the resulting tech was called something like the Maybelline Drive. I'd be surprised if it was more than a page or two in length. Mar 7, 2023 at 17:53
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    Or maybe it was the Revlon drive. Mar 7, 2023 at 18:35
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    Then again, maybe it's Maybelline
    – Craig
    Mar 8, 2023 at 2:30

1 Answer 1


This is "QTL" by Arlan Andrews, published as Analog's "Probability Zero" column for February 1987.

"It was the term, faster than C, that finally revealed to me, in a flash," the physiologist said, "that there were phenomena quicker than light."

"Quicker than light?" the question sputtered incoherently out of the physicist's mouth. "What do you mean quicker?"

Eyes shut in photographs:

"Simple-we've all photographed our family and friends, and invariably the subject will have his or her eyes shut. How can this be?"

Eyelashes can pre-detect the flash:

We believe eyelashes act as antennae that discriminate among the ethereal vibrations, reacting to previously unsuspected precursors of light waves that travel ahead of the light wavefront

From which comes a space drive:

"And so, children," the Historian said, "we have the story of the development of the QTL drive that powers our so-called 'shadow ships' as they wink across the Galaxies

I can't quote any more, the article is scarcely more than a page all told. Hat tip to Dosco Jones for his clue (it is "Revlon Drive") from which I was able to find this.

  • Fun side note: that implies that eyelids can achieve a speed of at least 0.005c.
    – Klaws
    Mar 8, 2023 at 12:41

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