Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

Order by: alphabetical | chronological

Word Definition
spindizzy n. (1950) in James Blish’s City in Flight series: a faster-than-light antigravity drive powered by a field that alters the magnetic rotation of atoms
splatterpunk n. 1 (1987) a subgenre of horror fiction characterized by the frequent and graphic description of grisly violence, bloody deaths, and extreme sexual situations; (in later use also) a similar genre of movies, video games, etc.
splatterpunk n. 2 (1987) an author of splatterpunk writing
spy ray n. (1934) a ray that allows a user to detect sound, images, or thoughts at a distant location or through a barrier
Standard n. (1952) (the name of) a language spoken on multiple worlds or by multiple species; the common language of a group or place; cf. Galactic n. 2
starbase n. (1944) an outpost in space, or on a planet remote from the homeworld, used to facilitate military, governmental, or commercial activities
star drive n. (1948) a propulsion device for a spaceship capable of interstellar travel, esp. one that permits the ship to travel faster than light; cf. earlier space drive n.
starfarer n. (1961) an interstellar traveller
starfaring n. (1973) interstellar traveling
starfaring adj. (1960) pertaining to interstellar travel
starfleet n. (1939) an organized group of starships, esp. one under military control; a division of a military responsible for interstellar activities
stargate n. (1958) a portal or device that transports something to another point in the universe (usually another such location or device) in a manner that bypasses the intervening space; cf. gate n., jump gate n.
star lane n. (1939) = space lane n.
star liner n. (1932) = space liner n.
starport n. (1950) a place where (interstellar) spacecraft can take off and land; = spaceport n.
starship n. (1926) a spaceship capable of interstellar travel
star system n. (1929) a planetary system; = solar system n.
starway n. (1932) an established route between stars; usu. pl. starways the realm of space travel in general; cf. spaceway n.
stasis field n. (1942) an enclosed area within which time is stopped
steampunk n. 1 (1987) a writer of steampunk n. 2
steampunk n. 2 (1987) a subgenre of science fiction which has a historical setting (esp. based on industrialized, nineteenth-century society) and characteristically features steam-powered, mechanized machinery rather than electronic technology
steampunkish adj. (1993) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of steampunk n. 2
stellar cartography n. (1883) a branch of cartography concerned with astronomical objects; (occas. cap.) an organizational unit or work area devoted to this; cf. astrogation n.
stf n. (1931) = science fiction n. 2
stfcon n. (1942) a science fiction fan convention
stfdom n. (1944) the realm of science fiction
stfnal adj. (1937) = science fictional adj.
stun gun n. (1946) a weapon that renders a victim unconscious or incapacitated without causing serious injury; cf. earlier stunner n.
stunner n. (1941) = stun gun n.
Sturgeon’s Law n. (1960) a humorous aphorism which maintains that most of any body of published material, knowledge, etc., or (more generally) of everything is worthless: based on a statement by Theodore Sturgeon, usually later cited as ‘90 per cent of everything is crap’
sub-creation n. (1947) J. R. R. Tolkien’s word for: the action or process of creating a fully realized and internally consistent imaginary or secondary world n.
sub-creator n. (1947) J. R. R. Tolkien's word for: a person who creates a secondary world (see sub-creation n.); (later also more generally) an author regarded as occupying the position of God in relation to his or her own fictional creation
sub-ether n. (1930) the medium through which faster-than-light signals propagate, sometimes conceived as being on a smaller scale than "ether"
subetheric adj. (1938) of, relating to, or involving a sub-ether n. (esp. with allusion to a supposed means of faster-than-light communication)