subspace n.

a physical space subject to different physical laws from our own, typically allowing motion or communication at speeds greater than the speed of light




  • 1937 J. Williamson Released Entropy in Astounding Stories Aug. 17/2 page image Jack Williamson bibliography

    Yet, swift as was the Silver Bird, plunging through millions of miles in a second, drawn into a tiny subspace of her own by the field warp of the kappa coils, seven years had passed before she approached her destination.

  • 1937 N. Schachner Crystallized Thought in Astounding Stories Aug. 103/2 page image Nat Schachner bibliography

    The repulsor elements tapped subspace, and hence were unimpeded by any waves in normal space time.

  • 1940 A. E. van Vogt Vault of the Beast in Astounding Science-Fiction Aug. 56/2 page image A. E. van Vogt bibliography

    Most Martian histories refer to it as the beast that fell from the sky when Mars was young—some terrible warning connected with it—the beast was unconscious when found—said to be the result of its falling out of sub-space.

  • 1941 H. Walton in Astounding Science-Fiction May 111/1 page image Harry Walton bibliography

    Plastoid ports showed only the dead, tangible blackness of subspace; Sun, stars and planets were snuffed into nothingness.

  • 1946 G. O. Smith Pattern for Conquest in Astounding Science Fiction May 155/1 page image George O. Smith bibliography

    We have the following observations regarding subspace: One is that the matter is unlike Terrene matter. The other is that there is a differential in time passage.

  • 1968 D. C. Fontana Tomorrow is Yesterday in J. Blish Star Trek 2 26 D. C. Fontana

    Technically, the bubble of subspace in which the Enterprise was enclosed, which would have been moving at 64C had the bubble impossibility been in normal space at all.

  • 1981 V. N. McIntyre Entropy Effect Prologue 6 Vonda N. McIntyre

    We're receiving a subspace transmission.

  • 1985 M. W. Bonanno Dwellers in Crucible v. 90 Margaret Wander Bonanno

    Meanwhile, you do a chatter blitz on the subspace channels, the gossip wavelength.

  • 1989 D. Dvorkin & D. Dvorkin Star Trek: Next Generation: Captains' Honor Prologue 11 David Dvorkin Daniel Dvorkin bibliography

    They just sent a tight-beam subspace transmission…a call for assistance.

  • 1999 C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek Next Generation: Dyson Sphere i. 3 George Zebrowski Charles Pellegrino bibliography

    The Federation had restricted their exploration of the Sphere entirely to surface mapping and long-range subspace scans.

  • 2021 J. C. Albury Stars of Star Trek Oct. (unpaged shooting script)

    You just can’t get that last little bit to [the speed of light], without totally violating the relativistic equations of spacetime. Therefore, the writers of Star Trek found a way around that, with an FTL (faster than light) propulsion system. In Star Trek, it’s called ‘Warp Drive’. Simply put, the warp ‘engines’ or ‘nacelles’ produce a subspace field around the vehicle, distorting spacetime. This distortion (or warp) allows the vehicle to travel hundreds or even thousands of times the speed of light, without all the aggravating relativistic effects of length contraction, time dilation and mass increase. So, instead of taking 4 years to get from Earth to Alpha Centauri, at Warp 3 it would take a little over a month. At warp 5 it would take a week, and at Warp 9, it would take a day.

Research requirements

antedating 1937

Earliest cite

Nat Schachner/Jack Williamson

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1941 cite.
Mike Christie submitted a 1940 cite from A.E. van Vogt's "The Vault of the Beast".
Fred Galvin submitted two cites from the August 1937 issue of Astounding : one from Nat Schachner's "Crystallized Thought", and one from Jack Williamson's "Released Entropy". The use by two different authors in the same issue of a magazine suggests that earlier cites remain to be found.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2021 cite from James Albury.

(Earliest in OED: 1955 in SF sense, 1931 in math sense.)

Last modified 2021-10-27 15:07:46
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.