ansible n.

an instantaneous communication device, not limited by the speed of light; cf. earlier ultraphone n.

SF Encyclopedia




  • 1966 U. K. Le Guin Rocannon’s World 113 Ursula K. Le Guin

    Noting the coordinates at which the ansible sender was set, he changed them to the coordinates of the League HILF Survey Base for Galactic Area 8, at Kerguelen, on the planet New South Georgia—the only coordinates he knew without reference to a handbook.

  • 1974 U. K. Le Guin Dispossessed (1975) ix. 222 Ursula K. Le Guin

    They print Reumere’s plans for the ansible.

  • 1977 O. S. Card Ender’s Game in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Aug. 118/1 Orson Scott Card bibliography

    On his first day Ender Wiggin was taught about the ansible and what it meant to warfare. It meant that even though the starships of today’s battles were launched a hundred years ago, the commanders of the starships were men of today, who used the ansible to send messages to the computers and the few men on each ship. The ansible sent words as they were spoken, orders as they were made. Battleplans as they were fought. Light was a pedestrian.

  • 1977 O. S. Card Ender’s Game in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Aug. 126/2 Orson Scott Card bibliography

    They left a hundred years ago. And they carried on them the ansible, and only a few men. So that someday a commander could sit on a planet somewhere far from the battle and command the fleet. So that our best minds would not be destroyed by the enemy.

  • 1985 O. S. Card Ender’s Game xiii. 346 Orson Scott Card

    Val had finished the first volume of her history of the bugger wars and transmitted it by ansible, under Demosthene’s name, back to Earth.

  • 1988 V. Vinge Threats & Other Promises 254 Vernor Vinge

    Ham’s eyes were drawn to the stone carving (now bluish green) that sat on Larry’s desk. The old man nodded. ‘It’s an ansible.’ ‘Surely they don’t call it that!’ ‘No. But that’s what it is.’

  • 1995 E. Moon Winning Colors 89 Elizabeth Moon

    ‘Communications… You know, when I was commissioned, we didn’t have FTL communications except from planetary platforms. I was on Boarhound when they mounted the first shipboard ansible, and at first it was only one-way, from the planet to us. That was still pretty exciting. Then they worked out how to get enough power for transmission.

  • 1996 ‘L. A. Graf’ Time’s Enemy 102

    ‘You're familiar with the theory of ansible technology, Heather?’ Petersen looked mildly surprised. ‘The idea that two twinned quantum particles will resonate in eternal synchronicity with each other, no matter how far you separate them in space? Of course.’

  • 2000 E. Moon Against Odds 159 Elizabeth Moon

    Captain! Ansible flash!… Local origin—this ansible—and it’s… omigod!

  • 2000 E. Moon Against Odds 158 Elizabeth Moon

    Despite Heris’s sense of urgency, she took her flotilla through the intermediate jump points with all due caution, checking ansible activity along the way. Nothing more from the ansible at CX-42-h and the only word from HQ was ‘Proceed with caution.’

  • 2001 Interzone May 12/2

    ‘Is this conversation being transmitted?’ I asked mostly to test my vocal cords. ‘For the Senators, of course,’ replied Belam, ‘by ansible. You can speak directly to them’.

  • 2015 D. Bara Impulse 313 page image Dave Bara bibliography

    Five days later the Feilberg family, negotiating for the emperor, concluded a cease-fire agreement via ansible.

  • 2021 B. Chambers Galaxy & the Ground Within 16 Becky Chambers bibliography

    She gestured to the panel, and looked at the incoming call data. A local transmission, not an ansible call.

Research requirements

antedating 1966

Earliest cite

LeGuin, Rocannon's World

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a cite from LeGuin, Rocannon's World (1966); this is probably the coinage.
We requested cites from authors other than Le Guin or Card; Cheryl Yuhas submitted a 2000 cite from Elizabeth Moon's "Against the Odds" and Jennifer Broekman submitted a 1995 cite from Elizabeth Moon's "Winning Colors".
Alexx Kay submitted a cite from a 2001 reprint of Vernor Vinge's 1988 story "The Blabber"; Malcolm Farmer verified this cite in the first edition.
Enoch Forrester submitted a 1996 cite from L.A. Graf's "Time's Enemy".
Melody Friedenthal submitted a 2021 cite from Becky Chambers's "The Galaxy, and the Ground Within"

Last modified 2021-08-20 14:12:43
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.