Questions tagged [history-of]

For questions about the history of the genre: the origin and evolution of ideas in speculative fiction. Example topics include the first work of speculative fiction with a particular property, or the origin of a term or trope.

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What was the first "Earth all along" story in Science Fiction?

In a similar vein to this other question and this other question, what is the first story where people explore a mysterious planet that turns out to be a post-apocalyptic Earth? Youtuber Liminal ...
Spencer's user avatar
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9 votes
9 answers
3k views

First instance of a light shooting up into the sky

In the early-to-mid 2010s, a popular trope in sci-fi blockbusters was to have the third act begin with a (usually blue) beam of light shoot into the sky or from the sky, either to open a portal to ...
Donatello Swansino's user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
3k views

First fictional lab-created plague

I'm doing my regular reread of Stephen King's The Stand and I got to wondering about the first example of a fictional manmade plague. I know in the book Day of the Triffids there was a lab created ...
Danny Mc G's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
207 views

What is the earliest example of a deal with the devil that hinges on a trick of wording?

The deal with the Devil is a common trope. Also common is the notion that you had better check the terms extremely carefully, because the Devil is prone to slipping in tricks of wording to his ...
causative's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
272 views

What is the earliest mention of fae being able to literally steal a human's name?

There is a trope circulating on the internet that if a fae (or fairy, elf, etc.) asks for your name, and you give it to them, they can literally take your name from you, leaving you nameless. How far ...
causative's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
201 views

Does the idea of a human being tricking demons (a bit like Constantine) come from folklore or some particular story predating Hellblazer?

A few years ago, I started reading the Hellblazer comic-book series, and while I enjoyed it a lot, I felt that the concept of a human being tricking demons (something the character Constantine is ...
J-J-J's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
193 views

What was the first time that a life clock was used in sci-fi?

The concept of a life-clock has been used numerous times in sci-fi. A recent example is the 2011 film In Time, where everyone has a clock built into their arm that starts to countdown to zero once ...
A.Steer's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
4k views

What was the first work that used an earworm as a defense against a mental attack or probe?

In The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, which was published over the course of 1952–1953, the existence of a professional caste of psychics is central to the plot. Much of what happens in the novel ...
Buzz's user avatar
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8 votes
0 answers
171 views

What was the first work to consider the issue of Teleportation = Death?

It's common joke that the Star Trek teleporters actually kill the person they dematerialize and recreate a copy. (Last week, SMBC joked that by 2026, all the strip's jokes will be about this question....
Buzz's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
312 views

First Isekai with 'video-game-like' skills?

It seems the only Isekai I hear about these days (at least from friends and on this site) are ones where the characters have "video game skills", but reading up on the genre that's not the ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Earliest 'space locust'/'devouring swarm' type of alien in science fiction?

Modern examples include the Zerg from StarCraft, Tyranids from Warhammer 40,000; the aliens from Alien (1979) are also central examples and seem like the immediate antecedent for most modern takes. ...
RegorOld's user avatar
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10 votes
6 answers
3k views

What is the first story to contain toys that are alive?

Stephen King wrote the short story Battleground in 1972. The story involves an assassin who kills a toy maker. The assassin then receives a package containing toys which then kill him. The short story ...
A.Steer's user avatar
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18 votes
4 answers
5k views

First instance of a universe being "close enough"

My favorite Simpsons episode is the 1994 Halloween episode in which Homer Simpson repeatedly travels back in time and makes changes in the past, resulting in bizarre alterations to the present. ...
Sean's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
264 views

Gypsy association with both vampires and werewolves: folkloric or from one particular story?

I think Stoker has gypsy minions to Dracula. My question is whether folklore predates this or it was Stoker's invention which gave rise also to werewolves (as in Siodmak's flicks)?
releseabe's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
216 views

What is the earliest work to have a species deliberately falsify its level of technology?

I am looking for the earliest example of a work where a species pretends to be at a much lower or higher level of technology than the one it has achieved. An example of this would be the Organians in ...
Kevonni's user avatar
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-3 votes
1 answer
161 views

First occurrence of the hero's counter-plan needing the villain's plan to succeed fully

When was the first occurrence of the hero's plan to save the day require the villain's plan to succeed (at first)? The villains plan needs to succeed fully (so no "actually you thought you did it&...
Parrotmaster's user avatar
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19 votes
1 answer
6k views

When did Dracula first say Blah Blah Blah?

In Hotel Transylvania Dracula is offended whenever anyone who is impersonating him says Blah Blah Blah. In the Dracula mythos, when did Dracula first say Blah Blah ...
A.Steer's user avatar
  • 5,421
1 vote
1 answer
244 views

What is the earliest example of LLMs used for AI in hard-sci-fiction before 2018?

All the AI in fiction, and none that I came across thought it could be helped by brute-forcing language in statistical models. What is the earliest example of large language models or something ...
Jaysen Naidoo's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
196 views

Is there an SF story on the theme of language that does NOT use the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? [closed]

There are numerous SF stories based on language but I have never heard of one that doesn't focus on the idea that language shapes thought. For example, here is a previous question that lists a few ...
Qwokker's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
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When was the first time a human spoke an alien language in Star Trek, without the use of the Universal Translator?

The Universal Translator in Star Trek translates languages to allow species to communicate with each other. This obviously leads to a need not to know an alien language, as the computer will translate ...
A.Steer's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
118 views

What was the first story to depict a modern objective-based approach to artificial intelligence?

A great deal of older science fiction has a rules-based approach to artificial intelligence. Think Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics: the robot has a set rule, and it follows it. In many such ...
Adamant's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
254 views

Where did the idea of "surrogates for astronauts" appear for the first time?

I have watched the latest season 6 of Netflix's Black Mirror and I have a question about its third episode, Beyond the Sea. This episode is about two astronauts, David and Cliff, who are on a six-year ...
polfosol ఠ_ఠ's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is the origin of the "suddenly you have no mouth" trope?

A fairly common trope in the fantasy/science fiction/horror genre is the sudden absence of one's mouth and the inability to breathe and/or scream. Off the top of my head: Neo in The Matrix and Black ...
ThePopMachine's user avatar
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

What was the literary origin of the idea that in the far future the moon would get closer to the Earth?

Something that comes up a lot in science fiction novels that take place on Earth in the distant future is the idea that the moon will get closer to the Earth (sometimes close enough to share a common ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 96.5k
22 votes
7 answers
4k views

Which was the first fictional work to bring up the concept of giant bugs?

I was playing some video games, and eventually came face to face against giant bugs. When I realised it's a very common trope which I keep seeing in many games, I jokingly told myself: "Giant ...
Clockwork's user avatar
  • 6,910
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Which was the first isekai tensei "reincarnated into another world" story?

There is a very popular Japanese animation genre now called "Isekai Tensei", where a person is reincarnated into another world. There are probably over a hundred of these animes now, each ...
Pablo's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
234 views

When and where did 'hench' become a verb? [closed]

Inspired by this question, when did people start to use "hench" as a verb? Was there a popular fictional origin, or did this usage originally come from non-fiction discussions of villains' ...
Andrew's user avatar
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7 votes
4 answers
3k views

First story to suggest some successor to steam power?

I would mention that during the 19th century, people spoke of steam (despite it not being very new, perhaps few people had direct contact with it until steam trains, etc. started to expose people) ...
releseabe's user avatar
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7 votes
0 answers
126 views

What was the first work where the main characters became the 'aliens' who crashed at Roswell?

In some science fiction works, such as Futurama's Roswell that Ends Well and DS9's Little Green Men, established characters somehow go back in time and crash-land near Roswell New Mexico, and ...
Nu'Daq's user avatar
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11 votes
4 answers
3k views

What's the oldest story where someone teleports into a solid or liquid?

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 ...
andrewthestackexchanger's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
4k views

What's the first time travel story which acknowledges trouble with tenses in time travel?

It's often said that travelling through time screws up the tense system. Sometimes the fact is lampshaded with something like this: "Then I will have seen my future self in the past... uh... what ...
andrewthestackexchanger's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
607 views

What was the first work set in the future where someone thinks something mistaken about the past?

The most common version of this trope is an archeologist, explorer or other researcher (or group thereof) misidentifying what an ancient object was for. The broadest scope versions are about ...
andrewthestackexchanger's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

What was the first work that showed someone (or something) inverted by passing through higher dimensions

Prompted by this question, I found myself wondering what the first work of science fiction was in which a character (or object) was inverted by passing through higher dimensions. Martin Gardner ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 96.5k
5 votes
2 answers
249 views

What was the first work of science fiction that accurately depicted stellar evolution?

Many stories from the golden age of science fiction depicted a far-future Earth in which the sun was reddening and dying. This appeared in both humorous (for example, The Dying Earth series by Jack ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 96.5k
2 votes
0 answers
97 views

First matter-transmitter story where the philosophical aspects of it are discussed? [closed]

Characters discuss (there may be more than one answer, like first destructive copy, etc.) : If a known destructive copy, how anyone would voluntarily use it? They question whether it is a ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
3 votes
2 answers
116 views

First story with a portal to a distant location?

I believe the idea of teleportation or extremely fast movement is very old. "Seven League Boots" and probably inexplicable movement to a distant place effected by a geni or demon. I am ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
17 votes
5 answers
3k views

What is the first science fiction work to use the determination of sapience as a plot point?

To clarify, the sapience of the being or species must be undetermined and uncertain to the reader and the characters in the story at first. Accusing a clearly sapient being of not being sapient does ...
Kevonni's user avatar
  • 443
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

First story of aliens pretending to be humans especially a "human" family (like Coneheads) that is trying to fit in, maybe for a long time?

My sense is that this is a fairly new (like post 1940s) idea because aliens (on Earth -- Lunarians is very old) themselves are fairly new, but I am not sure. I think while The Invasion of the ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
4 votes
1 answer
319 views

What is the earliest example of a friendly Western dragon?

I note that the friendly Western dragon trope becomes common in the 20th century. My question is whether there are any earlier examples than Kenneth Grahame's "The Reluctant Dragon" (1898).
Kevonni's user avatar
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7 votes
0 answers
140 views

What was the first work to portray the guardian of the Golden Fleece as a many-headed hydra?

At the climax of the mythical tale of Jason and the Argonauts' voyage to Colchis, Jason (with the help of the local priestess-princess Medea) steals the Golden Fleece from a sacred grove, where it ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 96.5k
4 votes
0 answers
104 views

First story having both the bad guys and the good guys avoiding using weapons in a space craft or space station that would puncture hull?

It seems like this comes up a lot: despite the bad guys having murderous intent, there is at least a tacit agreement not to use projectile weapons or anything else that would make a hole in the ship's ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
12 votes
8 answers
2k views

What is the first instance of human-sized, bipedal intelligent rat-people?

Following a (now deleted) question on another site about Skaven in the Warhammer Fantasy setting and the issue of plagiarism, I've tried to work out when Games Workshop invented the Skaven, or if they ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

First story about parasitic egg-laying aliens?

I distinctly recall discussing Alien right after I had seen it in a movie theatre when it first came out. Someone said something like, "Nature is just as cruel..." and of course anyone who ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
13 votes
5 answers
3k views

First "space walk" described in fiction?

When I search for this, I am only getting hits about the real 1965 space walk. As mentioned in the question about the vacuum of space, it seems to me that the early works about journeys to Luna ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

First story in which the vacuum of space and its consequences were discussed?

I am not sure Verne had a clear understanding of the nature of the space between Luna and Earth -- at his time, since balloons were the only method of reaching high altitudes, no one had ever reached ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
5 votes
1 answer
195 views

First movie in which the past prevents significant change?

In the Guy Pearce version of The Time Machine, he can frustratingly appear to have managed to change the past, but since he built the machine because his fiancé died, no matter what he does, she dies ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
20 votes
3 answers
3k views

Earliest use of a prosthetic-integrated gun in speculative fiction?

We see this trope in comics and manga, and also in cyberpunk fiction, where characters have weapons integrated onto prosthetics, like arm cannons. It can sometimes even be a bit absurd, where guns are ...
StarDustLad's user avatar
23 votes
2 answers
3k views

Which was the first Sci-Fi story to predict obnoxious "robo calls"?

I saw a post on the internet today that said, "None of the sci-fi stories I read as a kid predicted a future where everyone was afraid to answer their phone due to constant calls from robots.&...
T Hummus's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
132 views

Was Mad Max the first post-apocalyptic film where biker gangs are among the survivors?

I would say that it was in the second movie where it is really clear that the producers envisaged people who were already outlaws (or borderline) as becoming the de facto leaders of future society ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 14.6k
1 vote
1 answer
155 views

What inspired the creation of Cyrus Smith?

What inspired the character of Cyrus Smith in the novel The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne? Did Verne ever explain the concept behind the character?
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