solar system n.

a system of one or more stars, often with accompanying planets

A generalization of the usual meaning, referring to our own planetary system, which OED records from 1704 (in an unrevised entry).

SF Encyclopedia


  • 1882 ‘N. Green’ Thousand Years Hence xxi. 386 page image Nunsowe Green bibliography

    A very grand scheme was in contemplation, under White’s redoubtable leadership—no less than a public excursion to the nebula in Argo, in order to survey, from some near but sufficiently safe position, the marvellously stupendous movements that are of late developing there, in the gradual process of evolving a huge solar system.

  • 1886 M. Corelli Romance of Two Worlds 192

    Granting human electricity to exist, why should not a communication be established, like a sort of spiritual Atlantic cable, between man and the beings of other spheres and other solar systems?

  • 1935 ‘M. Leinster’ Proxima Centauri in Astounding Stories Mar. 21/2 Murray Leinster bibliography

    He had piloted the Adastra to its first contact with the civilization of another solar system.

  • 1941 R. Z. Gallun Meteor Legacy in Astounding Science-Fiction Aug. 39/2 Raymond Z. Gallun

    Must be a piece of some unknown planet, that maybe belonged to some unknown solar system, way out among the stars.

  • 1944 ‘H. Clement’ Trojan Fall in Astounding Science-Fiction June 57/2 Hal Clement

    Admittedly, he was used to interplanetary rather than interstellar flight; but it is almost as easy to get lost inside solar systems as between them.

  • 1946 ‘M. Leinster’ Plants in Astounding Science-Fiction Jan. 142/1 Murray Leinster

    Slade left the Copernicus with fuel for at most seven light-years. It’s fifty to the nearest inhabited solar system.

  • 1977 G. Zebrowski Ashes & Stars 109 George Zebrowski

    Gorgias touched the map retrieval plate and the screen lit up, revealing a solar system of twelve planets.

  • 1991 G. Zebrowski Stranger Suns 38 George Zebrowski

    ‘We’re the first human beings to reach another solar system,’ Lena said with awe.

  • 1995 U. K. Le Guin Four Ways to Forgiveness 211 Ursula K. Le Guin

    The Werel-Yeowe solar system consists of 16 planets orbiting a yellow-white star (RK-tamo-5544-34).

  • 2009 J. P. Kelly Going Deep in Asimov’s Science Fiction June 26 page image James Patrick Kelly bibliography

    Their ships cruised at sublight speeds through distant solar systems.

  • 2020 H. Green A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor235 Hank Green bibliography

    I do not exist to save humans, I exist to save humanity. Your cruelties and mistakes may look damning to you, but that is not what I see. Every human conversation is more elegant and complex than the entire solar system that contains it.


Research requirements

antedating 1882

Earliest cite

"Nunsowe Green", A Thousand Years Hence

Research History
Ralf Brown located and Steven Silver submitted a 1991 cite from George Zebrowski's "Stranger Suns".
Ralf Brown located and Douglas Winston submitted a 1977 cite from George Zebrowski's "Ashes and Stars".
Mike Christie submitted a 1944 cite from Hal Clement's "Trojan Fall".
Mike Christie submitted a 1946 cite from Murray Leinster's "The Plants".
Mike Christie submitted a 1941 cite from Raymond Z. Galllun's "Meteor Legacy".
Ralf Brown identified and Lawrence Watt-Evans located a cite from the 1887 second edition of Marie Corelli's 1886 "A Romance of Two Worlds".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2020 cite from Hank Green.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted an 1882 cite from "Nunsowe Green".

(The OED definition refers only to our own solar system.)

Last modified 2022-01-22 14:46:35
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.