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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First use of backwards time travel in fiction?

The First use of time travel in fiction question resulted in forwards time-travel as the accepted answer. So now I'm wondering about backwards time travel. This answer from that question, which I ...
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8 votes
3 answers
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What's the first example of fairies being divided into Summer and Winter Courts?

Modern fiction about fairies often describes them as being divided into Summer and Winter Courts, sometimes Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Courts. A lot of people seem to believe that this is an ...
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3 votes
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First use of 'demonic invasion of Earth' in science fiction or fantasy, as opposed to mythology

Demonic invasions are a popular trope used in video games, comics, manga, anime, etc. This first appeared in mythology of course. So I've been meaning to find out when this trope was first used in ...
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5 votes
2 answers
825 views

What's the oldest "accidental (potion) ingredient as inciting incident" story?

What's the oldest "accidental (potion) ingredient as inciting incident" story? Is it 1886's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the accidental ingredient's a "impurity of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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First vampire story to show them using animal blood and/or blood not directly from human body? [duplicate]

I am pretty sure Anne Rice had this happening in maybe the first book or a sequel. The possibility that blood not taken directly from a living human being (so either from animals or from a blood bank) ...
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2 votes
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Is the tier-based Cultivation system due to modern, possibly LitRPG, influence, or does it come from earlier sources?

How much of the tier-based Cultivation system is a modern creation? As that link says: Ranks / Levels / Layers (级 jí) (层 céng) – a common way to quantify martial power or the progress made in ...
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36 votes
1 answer
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Where does the "aging backwards" trope originate?

Michael Ende's The Neverending Story features the Sassafranians, people who are born old and age backwards until they die as babies. F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button&...
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21 votes
4 answers
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What is the first work of written fiction in which science fiction authors are consulted by the government during a crisis?

Niven and Pournelle’s Footfall has a team of science fiction writers helping deal with alien contact (1985). David Brin’s The River of Time (aka "Coexistence") has SF writers brought in to ...
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7 votes
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Earliest story w/ Earth still divided into nations but space travel regulated by single a non-national body?

Robert Heinlein's book Space Cadet featured a setting where the Earth is still politically divided into different nation-states (one is named as the 'North American Union'), but all space travel is ...
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6 votes
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What was the first science fiction story to consider a Mars landing in a "realistic"/hard sci fi way?

What is the first science fiction story that considers the practicalities of getting to Mars, landing on it, and returning safely? I'm interested in stories that focus on things like consumables (air, ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Which sci-fi work first showed sentient plastic?

The pilot episode of new Doctor Who (2005) showed sentient plastic (ordinary plastic controlled by Nestene Consciousness). But this wasn’t my first encounter with it. Indian TV series Shaktimaan ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What was the earliest reference to turnover maneuvers for constant-boost spaceships?

Turnover maneuver -- it's how you avoid a period of microgravity ("zero-gee" or "weightlessness") near the middle of a constant boost brachistochrone journey in your impossible ...
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Which Sci-Fi work first showed an exoskeleton capable of flying?

Flying exoskeletons are famous tropes in science fiction. Some examples on the top of my mind: Ironman Star Wars (Boba Fett) Centurians Which Sci-Fi work first showed an exoskeleton capable of ...
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8 votes
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Dedication of Clarke's "Imperial Earth"

Arthur C. Clarke's 1976 novel Imperial Earth is dedicated For a lost friend and has this Hemingway quote on the dedication page Remember them as they were; and write them off. Is the backstory ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What was the first science fiction work to show aliens that needed radiation to stay alive?

Watching old Doctor Who stories that I haven't seen in decades, I noticed that the third story with Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor, "The Ambassadors of Death" (1970), includes aliens that need ...
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3 votes
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Which was the first story to feature a 'Fighting spirit'?

A 'fighting spirit' fights instead of the one summoning and controlling it, and may be visible or invisible but have.some connection to the user. In X-Men Apocalypse (2016), before Jean Grey attacks ...
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What was the earliest fiction to use cloning as a magical ability/superpower?

I've seen media where a character is able to clone/replicate themselves in an instant. These clones help fight off enemies either directly, or serve as a distraction. So I've wanted to know, what the ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Chronologically first "hardboiled" SF or F

First, a bit of definitions. "Hardboiled" was codified by Chandler, so we don't have to look earlier than that (even if I wouldn't be surprised to find proto-hardboiled before that, just as ...
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2 votes
1 answer
314 views

When did a Transformer first rely on radio to talk?

I distinctly remember a robot, or series of robots, relying on radio to talk in Transformers: The Movie, which I watched on VHS as a kid. Is that the first instance of a Transformer relying on radio ...
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25 votes
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What was the earliest depiction of the angel/devil on your shoulder trope?

What is the oldest depiction someone has seen of an angel on a person's shoulder advising him to do the right thing, and a devil on the same person's other shoulder tempting him toward an immoral act?
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Which was the first science fiction story to feature a railgun? [duplicate]

In The Expanse (2015) one of the secondary characters' head is chopped off clean by another spaceship's railgun. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), a destroyer(?) fires a railgun to take ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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First example of mind control changing eyes?

I've noticed a common trope in SciFi/Fantasy: mind control changes the subject's eye color or, usually in more cartoonish works, gives the subject "spinning eyes". What is the original ...
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16 votes
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Earliest example of self-reproducing automata

This question Who said, "The only way to model an infinitely complex system is with the system, itself"? prodded my memory about the work of von Neumann, particularly his concept of self-...
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3 votes
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Where did "Dungeon Breaks", a.k.a monsters flooding out of a dungeon, come from?

Where did "Dungeon Breaks", a.k.a monsters flooding out of a dungeon, come from? We know where the term for monster-zone "dungeons" came from, since that was my question... But &...
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When did the term "space opera" first refer to the SF subgenre, rather than just formulaic, schlocky SF?

In 1941, Wilson Tucker coined the term "space opera", in parallel with "horse opera" and "soap opera", to refer to schlocky, formulaic writing, the kind of stuff that ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Which SFF work first showed a galactic empire?

We see tyrant galactic empires in SFF works all the time. Some examples off the top of my head: Star Wars - original trilogy (1977) Foundation series (1942) Which SFF work first showed an empire ...
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9 votes
0 answers
84 views

What is the earliest instance of magic smelling like ozone?

Aside from being set in pretty cynical universes, both Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher saga and Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain stories don't have a lot in common, aside from one thing that's nearly ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What is the origin of the trope of enslaved wizards/witches?

I have been reading The Wheel of Time books, and found the Seanchan Damanes to be very similar to The Tethered Mage books, where magic is rare and strictly controlled (even with minders that use ...
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33 votes
3 answers
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First use of the term "belter" in sci-fi as the demonym for asteroid belt inhabitants?

Obviously the series The Expanse has brought the term "Belter" into relatively common use. However, I have seen the expression used in Larry Niven's great novel Protector (strongly ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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First to portray computer-controlled plane or other vehicle?

I read that This Island Earth had a computer-controlled plane, and this sounds extremely sophisticated for 1955, not just because computers were huge things in those days but also because it seems to ...
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14 votes
3 answers
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What is the earliest story to deal with clones?

I’m looking for the earliest story with clones (genetic duplicates of people created via technology and grown from cells/embryos) in it. Just how old is the trope?
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3 votes
1 answer
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Who were the first heroes to go on an adventure because their hometown was destroyed during a festival?

In Wheel of Time (2021) S1E1 the heroes embark on their adventure because their hometown is destroyed during a festival. I assume the same happens in The Eye of the World but I don't know for certain. ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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Where did the idea of the ornithopter originate?

This question stems from a commonly depicted mode of transportation, the ornithopter. It is the primary flight tool in the latest Dune movie as well as seen in Black Panther and in several books I've ...
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30 votes
4 answers
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Was War of the Worlds the first science fiction to discuss bacteria/viruses?

While the way the Earth is saved by microorganisms seems naïve perhaps today, I suspect that the idea of microorganisms affecting aliens was very new since it was not even completely accepted that ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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First SF work (written) where the protagonist or antagonist take the name of the fallen angel, Abaddon

There have been examples throughout SFF literature of using the names of the Fallen Angels for either characters or places. In particular, John Bunyan utilised the name Abaddon in his The Pilgrim's ...
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1 vote
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Do Museos exist in anything other than T. A. Barron's Merlin series? What originated the idea?

In T. A. Barron's Merlin series, a creature mentioned a few times by Barron is the Museo. A Museo is a creature that can produce a single note that carries the weight and meaning of an entire song. ...
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8 votes
1 answer
530 views

Why do vampires hiss?

It is a bit of a trope that vampires hiss, typically when exposed to a cross, sunlight, or other weakness. So, my train of thought went a bit like this: Werewolves and Vampires have a "rivalry&...
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14 votes
3 answers
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What was the first official film adaptation made of J.R.R. Tolkien's work?

Peter Jackson has made six large budget films adapting The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and before that there were the animated Rankin Bass and Ralph Bakshi films. However those films began in ...
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What is the first work to base Hogwarts uniforms on modern school uniforms?

The text of the first Harry Potter book describe the school uniform as a black robe with a black cloak, a hat, and dragon hide gloves when hand protection is needed, and I think that's pretty cool. ...
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12 votes
2 answers
257 views

What was the first example in film and television of lights inside a space helmet, illuminating the actor's face?

We've all seen this -- Battlestar Galactica space helmets have lights inside the helmet, illuminating the actor's face, so the audience can identify characters. So do the suits used on the surface of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is the first film in which a woman is created as a mate for the creator?

The plot of Island of Lost Souls has as an important element in the Doctor's desire to create a real human and even a scene in which the "artificial" woman proves herself to be human by ...
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8 votes
4 answers
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What science fiction story first portrayed the use of a skinsuit instead of a pressurized space suit?

In a recent discussion on another forum someone pointed to Niven's 1967 "Flatlander" as depicting a space suit that was a single skin-tight garment (except for a neck seal and a helmet) ...
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21 votes
5 answers
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First Sci-fi or Fantasy Story to Break the Fourth Wall to Make the Reader a Protagonist in Its Story

I was recently re-reading Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity series, and it dawned on me that one of his books was an almost page-by-page ripoff of something I had read years earlier, like when I was ...
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14 votes
5 answers
3k views

What was the first example of a heavy worlder having fast reaction times?

In Gordon R. Dickson's Hour of the Horde, an individual from a heavy world is presented as molded by its home to be faster due to the reaction time required from falling faster. While many science ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Which Author Should Receive Earliest Credit for Cyberpunk Literary Genre? [duplicate]

Author William Gibson is often credited with creating the cyberpunk genre characterized by a dystopian future and a technology heavy society. He receives this distinction primarily due to popularity ...
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3 votes
3 answers
629 views

Which was the first fantasy story to feature human-dragon hybrids?

I was watching Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (2013) and a character in there is said to be a Dragonoid, the offspring of a human and a dragon. Then I remembered Dragon Quest (2020) also features a ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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What is the earliest example of an explicit subtractive retcon in speculative fiction literature?

What is the earliest example of a speculative fiction text (comic books included), where previous work by an author was overwritten to advance the narrative needs of a future work by that author? I am ...
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9 votes
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What’s the earliest work of science fiction to start out of order?

Thinking about how Star Wars saga starts at Episode IV, that is a very smart way of making room for yourself to create a set of prequels if it sells well and make it look like you had it all planned ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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When did stories featuring Martian civilization / life become implausible? [closed]

So much of classic SF, from Burroughs and Wells onwards, features Mars, Martians, Martian invasions, Martian cities, Martians in the desert, etc. Obviously, today, this looks like absurd fantasy and ...
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5 votes
1 answer
319 views

When was the idea of three bites to become a vampire codified?

In vampire fiction, depending on the author, one common method of creating another vampire is that the vampire maker must bite the victim on three different nights before the victim becomes a vampire. ...
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