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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22 votes
7 answers
6k views

What was the first Really Big Thing to appear in Science Fiction?

That's no moon. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars (1977) Perhaps the Death Star wasn't your introduction to the really big, ridiculously enormous thing, big for the sake of being big, but it was mine. It ...
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40 votes
7 answers
6k views

What is the origin of the "self-destruct sequence"

As far as I'm aware, we don't have anything like a self-destruct or auto-destruct sequence in real life ships at sea or in space, so where did the idea originate? I'm thinking of a specific function ...
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13 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the first fantasy work to feature both dwarves and dwarfs?

A staple trope in fantasy and indeed European folklore is a race of short humans, usually fond of mining; these mythical creatures are usually spelt dwarves after Tolkien. They do not exist in real ...
1 vote
0 answers
127 views

Was Star Trek's "Shore Leave" explicitly inspired by Disneyland?

Shore Leave was broadcast in 1966, about 11 years after Disneyland opened in California. Is there any documentation mentioning a connection between the immersive resort with robotic devices ...
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11 votes
1 answer
163 views

Missing / lost final Lensmen book?

The tumblr feed Vintage Geek Culture claims that there's one more Lensmen novel out there, which was too...much to be published back in the day. Somewhere, in the hands of the Jeannie and Clarissa ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What’s a plausible explanation for the inconsistent progression of the Galactic Republic? [closed]

I know this is a bit silly to treat the Star Wars galaxy so seriously but I look at the universe from a Watsonian point of view as opposed to Doylist. So. I was reading the Timeline of Galactic ...
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5 votes
1 answer
220 views

Is Stargate the first example of a one-way wormhole in fiction?

Wormholes are a common element in science fiction, but I think most wormholes shown in fiction are bidirectional, that is, matter can move both ways through the wormhole. Stargate really dialed the ...
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2 votes
0 answers
57 views

When was the first superpowered girl in comics? [duplicate]

Is there a superpowered girl older than the Magician from Mars (1939), that is, if I have my information right? The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book ...
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2 votes
3 answers
176 views

first science fiction story that deals realistically with population genetics?

Many, many science fiction stories involve growth of a population from a small initial population (e.g. TV tropes' Adam and Eve plot). I just read H. Beam Piper's Genesis (1951), in which Homo sapiens ...
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6 votes
2 answers
282 views

What is the earliest story with a matter duplicator in SF

What is the earliest SF story in which a matter duplicator plays a significant or central role. By a "matter duplicator" I mean a machine or device which can be used to easily and quickly ...
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4 votes
2 answers
196 views

What is the earliest work of fiction with a dystopian future?

Taking the following definition of dystopia: an imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives It would seem there’s a certain aspect to it that is very much ...
13 votes
2 answers
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What’s the first Indian alien story?

India doesn’t have a strong Sci-Fi history. Here are some examples of Indian works which featured aliens: Koi Mil Gaya (2003) movie featured aliens Aaryaman (2002) TV series was full of aliens as it ...
23 votes
6 answers
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Which Sci-Fi work introduced the concept of speed-based time travel?

We see speed-based time travel all the time in science fiction. It’s possibly a result of crude interpretation of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity which makes time a speed-dependent quantity. ...
9 votes
1 answer
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Is Forbidden Planet the only movie that indicates something unusual occurs when dropping below speed of light prior to Star Trek?

I had not remembered, but early in the film, the crew gets into chambers prior to deceleration. The chief hurries up the men, asking them rhetorically, "Ya wanna bounce through this one?" I ...
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7 votes
3 answers
641 views

Is Tomboy of Sterling Comics, from 1954, the first independent superheroine in comics?

Is Tomboy of Sterling Comics, from 1954, the first independent superheroine in comics? "Superheroine" because she's a 10-year-old girl that can cling to the outside of a plane and jump into ...
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-5 votes
2 answers
113 views

Which SFF work first used Pyramids?

We see Pyramids in the SFF works all the time. Few examples in my head right now: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) The Mummy (1999) Which SFF work first used Pyramid? Note: Here, I am not talking about the ...
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

When was the first mention of a female chief engineer on a Starfleet vessel in Star Trek?

Note that I'm not asking about when a female chief engineer was a main character, just when it was first mentioned that a female was a chief engineer of any Starfleet vessel. Also note that I'm ...
6 votes
0 answers
192 views

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
308 views

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
3 answers
181 views

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 ...
7 votes
2 answers
896 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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3 votes
0 answers
160 views

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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22 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
3 answers
177 views

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
3 answers
3k views

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, ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
163 views

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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0 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
8 votes
0 answers
153 views

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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
86 views

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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4 votes
3 answers
289 views

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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9 votes
5 answers
3k views

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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
328 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 ...
25 votes
2 answers
4k views

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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2 votes
0 answers
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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
324 views

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
2 answers
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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-...
3 votes
0 answers
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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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6 votes
0 answers
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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
995 views

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 ...
9 votes
0 answers
133 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 ...
6 votes
4 answers
171 views

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
2k views

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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