179 votes
Accepted

What was the first Sci-Fi work to feature a spaceship?

The answer depends on just how pedantic you want to be. Space Travel Vehicles With Some Basis In Scientific Reality As Terdon has already pointed out, the first vessel used to travel through space in ...
  • 67.9k
151 votes
Accepted

Where does the archetypal image of the 'Grey' alien come from?

Arguably it all started with the Outer Limits episode "The Bellero Shield" from october 1964. According to wikipedia, the grey aliens, also known as "Zeta Reticulans" rose to fame ...
  • 8,782
134 votes
Accepted

What is the first reference to an internet of computers in science fiction?

I've read The Machine Stops a few times, and I don't think it's quite similar enough to the internet. There, the humans live within a giant machine. But the internet is a network of machines. For ...
  • 22.2k
126 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 5,543
104 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 8,782
102 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 24.3k
102 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 38.1k
92 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 816
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 ...
  • 110k
88 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 201k
87 votes
Accepted

What went down at the July 1974 Comic Art Con?

Found at vampilore.co.uk (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 ...
  • 10.8k
85 votes
Accepted

Why do zombies eat our brains?

In regards to why the zombies feed on brains, there is an official explanation is a quote from Return of the Living Dead’s writer and director, Dan O’Bannon, who suggested that the undead felt the ...
  • 7,866
83 votes
Accepted

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 ...
83 votes
Accepted

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-...
  • 19.3k
80 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, ...
80 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 736
74 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.
  • 4,927
71 votes
Accepted

What was the origin of the meme where Batman slaps Robin?

As recorded in knowyourmeme.com: According to the Comics Should Be Good Archive, the panel originated from the 1965 comic book “World’s Finest #153.” The story is based around an alternate reality ...
69 votes
Accepted

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 Project ...
  • 149k
67 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 89.7k
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 ...
  • 11.5k
65 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 1,226
65 votes
Accepted

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 alternate ...
  • 149k
65 votes
Accepted

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, ...
  • 52.8k
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 '...
  • 1,019
62 votes

What is the science-fiction tradition of flying cars having their wheels turned sideways?

The earliest such car that I am aware of is from the 1965 issue of Strange Tales that introduced SHIELD and inducted Nick Fury into their ranks. You can see in the images on this page that the wheels ...
  • 1,663
62 votes
Accepted

Did Tolkien popularize the generic description of a wizard?

Tolkien, by his own account, had traditional images of the norse god Odin in mind when creating Gandalf, as we can see from his letter to Sir Stanley Unwin 7 December 1946 (107 in the collection) [...
  • 2,766
62 votes
Accepted

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),...
  • 15.7k

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