spy ray n.

a ray capable of penetrating walls etc. which permits the transmitter to see what is occurring at the target location

  • 1934 E. E. Smith Triplanetary in Amazing Stories Jan. 21/1 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    But even Roger had no inkling of the possibility of Costigan’s ‘Service Special’ phones, detectors and spy-ray—instruments of minute size and of infinitesimal power, but yet instruments which, working as they were, below the level of the ether, were effective at great distances and caused no vibrations in the ether by which their use could be detected.

  • 1938 E. E. Smith Galactic Patrol in Astounding Stories Jan. 131/1 Edward E. Smith

    His spy ray would be useless, since all patrol bases were screened thoroughly and continuously.

  • 1941 T. Sturgeon Artnan Process in Astounding Science Fiction June 64/1 Theodore Sturgeon bibliography

    We have taken relays on the spy ray; one of us has been watching the ship constantly.

  • 1943 A. E. van Vogt Weapon Makers in Astounding Science Fiction Feb. 26/1 A. E. van Vogt

    You can’t fool me with that talk about an all-purpose spy ray.

  • 1944 M. Jameson Leech in Astounding Science Fiction Jan. 53/1 Malcolm Jameson

    We should have tackled telepathics. What better spy ray would you want than the ability to look into another man’s mind?

  • 1949 J. H. Schmitz Agent of Vega in Astounding Science Fiction July 29/2 James H. Schmitz

    The speeding vehicle was shielded for privacy from all but official spy-rays, and for several more minutes he would have no reason to fear those.

  • 1958 R. Silverberg Stepsons of Terra 29 Robert Silverberg

    I want to know who planted that spy ray in my room, and why I should be warned against dealing with Myreck.

  • 1964 ‘W. Atheling’ Things Still to Come: Gadgetry and Prediction in More Issues at Hand 49 James Blish

    A frightening thought as Asimov handled it, because he took an adult view of it; but a Heinlein would have used the same brilliant insight to bring out the Peeping Tom in us (what did happen to the spy rays of yesteryear, by the way?).

  • 1999 P. D. Filippo Plumage From Pegasus in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct.—Nov. 196/2

    Every word the Pope uttered was picked up by Eddorian spy rays from light-years away.

Research requirements

antedating 1934

Earliest cite

E. E. Smith 'Triplanetary'

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1938 cite from E.E. Smith's "Galactic Patrol".
Mike Christie submitted a 1941 cite from Theodore Sturgeon's "Artnan Process".
Mike Christie submitted a 1943 cite from A.E. van Vogt's "The Weapon Makers".
Mike Christie submitted a 1944 cite from Malcolm Jameson's "The Leech".
Mike Christie submitted a 1949 cite from James Schmitz's "Agent of Vega". Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Robert Silverberg's "Stepsons of Terra"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1958 first edition.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1972 cite from E.E. Smith's "Triplanetary"; and Alistair Durie verified the cite in the 1934 first publication.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1974 reprint of a 1964 article by "William Atheling Jr." (James Blish).
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1999 cite from Paul Di Filippo's "Plumage from Pegasus".

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.