Friday, April 29, 2011

Science Fiction Dictionary

Cover art by Ric Binkley

"Special thirteen-page feature published in Travelers of Space: An Anthology of Life on Other Worlds (Gnome Press, 1951), edited by Martin Greenberg."

A short but handy sf lexicon from the 1950's by Martin Greenberg, David A. Kyle and Samuel A. Peeples. Here are some sample entries.

Blaster — SF term for hand weapon. Also descriptive of tools for mining operations on alien worlds employing atomic energy or disintegration. The variety of hand weapons is endless, mostly described as "ray guns" ranging from deadly "rays" (usually hard radiation) to sonic disturbance. A sonic-blaster destroys the molecular balance, adjustable to kill or maim; a heat-blaster employs direct or sympathetic radiation; a disintegrator totally destroys matter by molecular dissemination. Particulary [sic] vivid use of ray guns is found in Maza of the Moon by Otis Adelbert Kline (Chicago 1930) and in the "Lensmen" series by Dr. E. E. Smith. (See: DISINTEGRATOR; WEAPONS)

Space-Warp — An SF theory of space divided into strata or vectors. With such overlapping divisions artificial fields of force in opposition are created. By draining the energy of one while in the other, a vehicle might theoretically achieve stupendous propulsion, and by shifting from one field to another gigantic leap-frog maneuvering might be feasible, thus exceeding the speed of light by reducing the normal light distances. Details of space-warps in free flight are dealt with by Dr. E. E. Smith in his "Skylark" series. (See: FORCE-FIELD)

Time Travel — In SF, the transportation of any person or thing into the past or future. An extremely popular SF theme, filled with paradoxes. The methods of travel involve everything from machines and chemicals to incantations. A unique study of various time theories in SF form is offered in The Omnibus of Time by Ralph Milne Farley (Los Angeles 1950). Examples of time travel stories are collected in Travelers in Time edited by Philip van Doren Stem (N.Y. 1947). Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan (N.Y. 1940) is a poetic time travel story without explanations— yet explainable by "overlap ping time phases." (See: DIMENSIONS; DOPPLER EFFECT; LORENTZ-FITZGERALD CONTRACTION; PREHISTORIC; TIME MACHINE)

[via the Internet Archive]

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