I read a story in a science fiction anthology wherein the major scientific discovery was a perfect battery, which led to numerous advances in communications, transportation, and even social issues, etc.

I feel like it was a Poul Anderson story from the 50s or 60s, and the anthology was maybe from the 1970s.

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    Do you have any more details you could give us to help you find it? When did you read this story? Is there a particular twist to it beyond the simple technological breakthrough? Was there a plot around this technology? May 23, 2014 at 6:14
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  • The word "battery" has many meanings. Are you talking about an apparatus for producing electricity? In what sense is the battery in the story "perfect"?
    – user14111
    May 23, 2014 at 6:41
  • It sounds a bit like The Entity, an Anderson short story which has them initially mistake the power source for a power drain, but I don’t think it has the technological advances you described.
    – alexwlchan
    May 23, 2014 at 7:08
  • @alexwichan According to the ISFDB the title of that story is just "Entity", no "The". I think the ISFDB is right this time: I'm missing that June 1949 ASF, but a "Brass Tacks" writer in the October issue mentions the story as "Entity". Anyway, ISFDB doesn't know of any anthologies containing that story, so it's probably not the one we're looking for.
    – user14111
    May 23, 2014 at 9:54

3 Answers 3


I think you are referring to the Poul Anderson story "Snowball." It wasn't a battery, it was "capacitite" used to make supercapacitors for energy storage.

According to isfdb, it was anthologized in 1991, in "Power," edited by S. M. Stirling. Originally published in "If" in 1955.


It’s Snowball all right – and you weren’t wrong about the battery. See the following from the central character’s wife.

"The first thing you do, my boy, is make a replacement for that so-called battery in our car. I’m tired of having the clunk die in the middle of traffic".

And from the younger generation

Colquhoun’s eldest son Robert dropped over to find Arch tinkering with his rickety ’48 Chevrolet. “Dad says you’ve got a new kind of battery” - - I’d like to buy a big piece of the stuff from you - - To run my hot rod off it” said Rob from the lofty eminence of sixteen years.- - [Rob] also discovered, more or less clandestinely, that such a car would go up to 200mph on the straightaway.

That was until his father confiscated it.


Not a battery per se, but a short story about efficient energy generation was "Let There Be Light" as part of the Heinlein collection "The Man Who Sold the Moon" from the 1940s. I believe it has been anthologized a number of times since.

Let There be Light (1940) – a quick story on the research and development of the Light Panels, which can store and use solar energy in a highly efficient manner. The story opens with scientist Archibald Douglas learning the famous scientist Dr. Martin will be visiting him to speak with him about his Cold Light technology. The next day, the only person waiting for Dr. Douglas is a beautiful woman. It takes a bit, but she finally does convince him that she is indeed the famed Dr. Martin. Douglas quickly comes to respect and appreciate her intelligence and wit, and they work tirelessly to improve his Cold Light technology into a highly efficient power source. Unfortunately, this frustrates the electricity based power companies to no end, and Douglas comes up with the perfect solution.

Novella Description

  • If you are looking at Heinlein, then the battery would be the "Shipstone" (which was immediately paired with the Douglas-Martin technology). Don't recall what story to look in for the introduction though. May 23, 2014 at 15:30
  • That was my second thought as a possibility for this one
    – beichst
    May 23, 2014 at 20:45
  • I thought Heinlein introduced Shipstones later, possibly in "Friday". Did they appear in "Let There Be Light"? May 23, 2014 at 21:04
  • I don't believe so. Too, as Friday was published later (1982) that was why I put it as a second choice. I.e was published later than what the questioner had iindicated
    – beichst
    May 23, 2014 at 23:05
  • Let There Be Light is supposedly in the public domain now; at any rate, it's here in ePub form. Jun 12, 2014 at 5:46

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