Video games coined the term for this — "telefragging." Sometimes two people teleport in the same place instead of one person teleporting into a solid, but it's usually grisly for the telefrag victim.

The question is, what was the first story to feature a telefrag? Non-narrative discussion about telefragging is also welcome, but prefer narratives where this happens (and narratives are the only answers I will accept).

Posting an answer that says, "Any teleportation story because they teleport into air," or adding deliberate avoidance of telefragging is also not an answer I'll give the checkmark; I want to see the consequences. You can still post the avoidances (e.g. Perry Rhodan which explicitly acknowledges the shifting of air), but don't even think of posting an answer if it relies on your own, "Well, the teleportation doesn't explicitly move air"-esque guessing.

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    tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TeleFrag might be handy, but they don't happen to have an easy "this is the first example" that I can see.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 16:38
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    How realistic is "realistically"? The German Perry Rhodan pulp series introduced teleporters in their fourth issue (Sept. 1961), and teleportation was accompanied by air movements (air filling a vacuum where the teleporters left, air being pushed aside where they appeared). Would that already be "realistic[ally]"? Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 16:49
  • I'll allow it as a top level answer, though since it doesn't show telefragging and instead shows an evasion I'm not ticking it. Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 16:52
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    For some reason I'm reminded of the old saw: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 17:22
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    H. G. Wells' time traveller (1895) does worry about the danger of materializing in the space occupied by a solid body, but (a) this doesn't happen in the story, and (b) time travel isn't the same as teleportation, so this is not what you're looking for.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 21:49

4 Answers 4


The earliest occurrence I've found where someone is killed in the story by teleportation is "Anachronism," by Charles Cloukey, Amazing Stories December 1930.

"I was taking dictation from Mr. Wentworth. He has always seemed to be in the best of health, but today he suddenly stopped in the middle of a letter and complained of an intolerable fever. I glanced up at his face. It was terribly red, and I saw sweat suddenly burst out on his forehead. Then he groaned and fell forward with a gasp. It all happened in a minute. I was terrified, but I didn't think to call for help.

"Then something warned me instinctively. I jumped up out of my chair. Just as I did I saw a tiny bright light flickering just where my head had been. It grew larger and larger. It was too bright to keep looking at, but it sort of hypnotized me. I couldn't look away. There seemed to be a little ball the size of a marble in the center of the light. Then the light went out and the ball, red-hot, fell down on the chair, rolled off and down to the floor, and started burning into the carpet. Then I rushed to the outer office and called for help. None of the office force entered the private office until the police came."

The coroner spoke. "Luckily I arrived in a few minutes and heard Miss Sherman's story before any reporters got there. I got that ball. It had cooled off a little. There is a doctor across the street with X-ray apparatus. I got rid of the newspaper men by telling them it was nothing but heart failure, and then had the doctor X-ray the skull. He had the film developed immediately. There is a metal ball one inch in diameter inside his brain. If Miss Sherman hadn't changed her position, the other ball would have materialized inside of her brain too."

"You have the ball?" inquired Blake. The coroner took from his pocket a ball that looked like a large ball-bearing that had lost its luster, and gave it to Blake, who rose abruptly and left us, entering the room I knew was his chemical laboratory. He returned eventually.

"What is it?" asked Sherman.

"Pure iron. Not any form of commercial iron or steel. They contain carbon and other impurities. This is pure iron, very slightly tarnished. Our Martian has mastered the process of sending solids through space, at least elements such as iron. Sending even a simple compound like table salt through space would be a more difficult matter. He has some system of taking this iron apart into its component protons and electrons, and putting it together again wherever he wants to. By materializing the ball in Wentworth's brain, he caused rapid death as the iron displaced the grey matter."


The short story "The Machine Man of Ardathia" Amazing Stories, November 1927 by Francis Flagg mentions this in passing, though it doesn't directly happen to any of the characters in the story:

"Barring accident, that is the length of time an Ardathian lives. But to us fifteen hundred years is no longer than a hundred would be to you. Remember, please, that time is relative. Twelve hours of your time is a second of ours, and a year.... But suffice it to say that very few Ardathians live out their allotted span. Since we are constantly engaged in hazardous experiments and dangerous expeditions, accidents are many. Thousands of our brave explorers have plunged into the past and never returned. They probably materialized inside solids and were annihilated. But I believe I have finally overcome this danger with my disintegrating ray."


Arthur C. Clarke's first published science fiction story, "Travel by Wire!" (1937) was about an electrical form of teleportation. People and objects could be sent by electrical cable or (in principle) by radio waves. Much of the story is about the kinds of accidents that occurred, including instances where a cable carrying a passenger shorted to ground (or in British English "earth"), dissipating the body into the ground.

One common complaint was earthing along the line. When that happened, our unfortunate passenger was just dissipated into nothingness. I suppose his or her molecules would be distributed more or less evenly over the entire earth.


A specific mention of telefragging, in the form of teleporting objects into another person's body, was in The Witling by Vernor Vinge (1976). Here, an entire species of teleporters have various related abilities -- to "reng" is to go yourself; to "seng" is to teleport an object or person other than yourself, and to "keng" is to scramble an enemy's organs by teleportation. Long distance senging into the pools involved swapping whatever was at the destination with what was traveling.

There was also a sense to go with this (I don't recall what it was called, it's been a long time since I read the book), allowing professional sengers to land in artificial ponds built to soak up conserved momentum, but they had beasts that locally damped renging, senging, and kenging, as well as animals that used one or more of these to migrate, feed themselves, protect their young, and hunt.

  • Note, though, that unless your abilities were impaired you could protect yourself from being telefragged. Only the witlings were vulnerable (as well as the exploration crew that found the world.) Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 21:03

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