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127 votes

When and why did orcs go green?

Okay, I really didn't intend to end up answering my own question, but this really piqued my curiosity so I dug into it. The answer - weirdly - may actually be Spider-Man. There does not seem to be ...
Bob Tway's user avatar
  • 5,717
107 votes

Are all instances of trolls turning to stone ultimately references back to Tolkien?

Trolls have turned into stone for a very, very long time One example is the myth about "the seven sisters", which tells the story of how seven trolls in Nordland, Norway, was turned into mountains ...
Abulafia's user avatar
  • 8,942
105 votes

Which Sci-Fi work first showed Nuclear Weapons?

H. G. Wells predicted the atom bomb in his 1914 book, The World Set Free. His story not only mentioned nuclear weapons, but showed them in use with a fore-knowledge that seems scarily accurate. (Kind ...
RichS's user avatar
  • 38.7k
102 votes

Were there science fiction stories written during the Middle Ages?

I would say a good case can be made to answer 'yes' on this. Per Wikipedia, "During the Middle Ages in the Middle East, foundations for the scientific method were laid by Alhazen in his Book of ...
beichst's user avatar
  • 26k
93 votes

Were the Smurfs the first to smurf their smurfs?

It is hard to say for certain, as the search terms to apply for "smurfing" aren't very clear. However: Although there's likely to be many stories for children where a character replaces a ...
Nox's user avatar
  • 826
91 votes

First appearance of the "wake up from a coma, discover the world has ended" trope?

The Sleeper Awakes (1898) by H.G. Wells This H.G. Wells novel was released as a serial in 1898 before being rewritten as a single book in 1910. In either version, a man by the name of Graham takes ...
Praxis's user avatar
  • 111k
88 votes

Where did the concept of a (fantasy-style) "dungeon" originate?

As per this RPG SE question, the first adventure was in a dungeon under a keep, and the name stuck. According to Gary Gygax (in an interview with Dungeon #112), the first dungeon crawl was part of a ...
FuzzyBoots's user avatar
  • 230k
85 votes

What went down at the July 1974 Comic Art Con?

Found at (emphasis mine): Emanuel Maris speaks out … "Well, suppose I set the story straight(er), as to my reasons for writing the Heidi poem in the Creation '74 (Jan) program I ...
DCOPTimDowd's user avatar
  • 10.9k
83 votes

Why is the name "Rigel", and especially "Rigel VII", used in multiple universes?

Because it's a bright "star" (it's actually a group of stars, and the 7th brightest in the night sky) and its name is familiar with budding star gazers. It's also enormous and placed in the obvious ...
Binary Worrier's user avatar
83 votes

What was the first work set in a post nuclear war earth?

A good candidate is the 1913 (Published 1914) novel by H.G. Wells, The World Set Free. Synopsis of the novel: The novel tells the prophetic story of man’s harnessing of the (at that time) newly-...
JohnP's user avatar
  • 19.6k
82 votes

Sol Ⅲ = Earth: What is the origin of this planetary naming scheme?

The naming convention has been in common usage forever in science fiction. E.E. Smith from the first Galactic Patrol serial in 1937 referred to planets such as Velantia III, Rigel IV, and Palain VII, ...
Keith Morrison's user avatar
79 votes

Where does the "aging backwards" trope originate?

Theopompus (c.380-315 BC) wrote a history of the reign of Philip II of Macedon, including a digression concerning the fabulous island of Meropis. We don't have the full text of this work, but the ...
Asa K's user avatar
  • 726
75 votes

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

What about A True Story written in the second century AD? It features a 200-mile-long (320 km) whale in whose belly a variety of fish people live.
Ivo's user avatar
  • 5,284
70 votes

Which Sci-Fi work first showed hostile Artificial Intelligence?

1899: "Moxon's Master", a short story by Ambrose Bierce; first published in the San Francisco Examiner, April 16, 1899; reprinted in the collection Can Such Things Be?, which is available at ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k
67 votes

What's the origin of the trope that dragons used to be common but aren't any more?

The idea that dragons were once numerous, but are no longer, is just one of many manifestations of what TV Tropes calls the "The Magic Goes Away" (named for the Larry Niven story). It is ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 98.5k
66 votes

What's the 'earliest future' mentioned in a work of science fiction?

The Partisan Leader: A Tale of the Future by "Edward William Sidney", pseudonym of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker; available at the Internet Archive. Published in 1836, set in 1849. A work of ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k
66 votes

Is there an identifiable origin for the association of minotaurs with battle axes?

Looking this up, I found this helpful website which lists and excerpts a variety of accounts of the Minotaur, and has a gallery of classical artwork about it. In the sources there, the Minotaur is not ...
Cadence's user avatar
  • 12.9k
66 votes

Which Sci-Fi work introduced the concept of speed-based time travel?

Would a science-fictional limerick count? According to the article "Humour on Einstein as expressed in limericks", this one was first published in the Dec. 19 1923 issue of Punch magazine, ...
Hypnosifl's user avatar
  • 57k
65 votes

First appearance of the "wake up from a coma, discover the world has ended" trope?

The Day of The Triffids, 1951. I know it's a lot later than The Sleeper Awakes, but it's also much closer to an end of the world scenario. In fact, now I think about it, it's almost exactly the same ...
Spike's user avatar
  • 1,226
64 votes

Where did using "Luna" as the future name for the moon come from?

Primarily, 'moon' is too general. Luna refers to Earth's moon, not other moons, of other planets. People outside SF&F have no reason to think about any other moons, for the most part, so saying '...
Seeds's user avatar
  • 1,019
62 votes

What was the first 3D CGI used in Star Trek?

According to the CGI article on Memory Alpha: The very first CGI used was in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Lucasfilm Graphics Group, then a subsidiary of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM),...
Mwr247's user avatar
  • 15.8k
61 votes

What was the first fantasy world/universe without real-world ties?

1884: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, a novel by Edwin Abbott Abbott writing as "A Square", available at Project Gutenberg. Wikipedia plot summary: The story describes a two-...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k
61 votes

What popularized the idea of "green" radioactive materials in media?

This Quora question cites three possible sources: The rumor is that reporters seeing the first nuclear reactors at criticality did so through lead-doped glass; when you dope glass with lead, it ...
FuzzyBoots's user avatar
  • 230k
61 votes

First work where a traveler from afar arrives to a backward society and he tries to help its scientific progress

How about Prometheus, a Celestial being who came to Earth and transformed humanity by introducing fire? Stories of Prometheus in written form are known from 2800 years ago, and there must be older ...
Ethan's user avatar
  • 6,117
60 votes

What is the earliest instance of "Dark Elves" in modern Fantasy?

The origin of the dark elf / light elf trope can be traced back as far as the 13th century, where Dökkálfar (dark elves)and Ljósálfar (light elves) are mentioned in the Prose (or Young) Edda by Snorri ...
Klaus Æ. Mogensen's user avatar
57 votes

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

1726: In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, we encounter Laputa, which is described as a fully navigable, flying maglev city about 4.5 miles in diameter: The flying or floating island is exactly ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
56 votes

What's the 'earliest future' mentioned in a work of science fiction?

"Solution Unsatisfactory" by Robert A Heinlein was published in 1941 and set between 1944 and 1951, as the US tries to develop a nuclear weapon to end WWII.
Mike Scott's user avatar
  • 62.3k
55 votes

What is the origin of the “clerics can create water” trope?

A lot of cleric spells in early D&D were explicit Bible references; the one that comes immediately to mind is Sticks to Snakes, which is based on Exodus 7:12 (thanks to @RossThompson for this ...
enkryptor's user avatar
  • 1,049
54 votes

Where did using "Luna" as the future name for the moon come from?

The reason why people in a science-fiction future would call the moon Luna is explained in Seeds' answer. If, like most people today, you only know about one moon, you can just call it the moon. If ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k

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