ether ship n.

a spaceship

Chiefly hist.


  • 1883 W. S. Lach-Szyrma Aleriel iii. iii. 111 page image W. S. Lach-Szyrma bibliography

    We, Aleriel, Arauniel, and Ezariel, come in the ether ship from the beautiful planet near the sun.

  • 1891 S. H. King Journal of Scientist During Voyage to Planet Mars in Twentieth Century 22 Oct. 9/1 page image bibliography

    The reason I do not give a more minute description of my ether ship is that there is pending in several countries of the earth international patent laws; and in common with all scientists I wish to reap the fruits of my genius.

  • 1900 J. E. Watkins, Jr. Space Penetrators in Evening Star (Washington, D. C.) 25 Aug. 14/6 (heading) page image

    A Proposed Ether Ship Booked for the Unknown. For Travel Between the Planets[.] Possibility of Having Friends Living at Mars.

  • 1903 ‘G. Sweven’ Limanora: Island of Progress ii. vii. 473 page image Godfrey Sweven bibliography

    And in a flash there swept within our sight the fleet of prismatic ether-ships, like rainbows in the light of another sun. They stopped and hovered above the atmosphere.

  • 1905 A. J. Waterhouse Mars Will Not Communicate in San Francisco Call 7 July 8/2 page image bibliography

    The ether-ship that had made the journey to and from the earth drew nearer and nearer to Mars and at last it alighted.

  • 1926 E. Worrell Bird of Space in Weird Tales Sept. 304/1 page image Everil Worrell bibliography

    Perhaps the men of Furos had learned to traverse space in some such way as he mentioned, such as our scientists have speculated on; and that perhaps, to protect their discovery in their traffic with other worlds, they fashioned an ether-ship to resemble a great bird.

  • 1928 C. W. Harris Miracle of Lily in Amazing Stories Apr. 55/2 page image Clare Winger Harris bibliography

    Stentor would not appear, so disturbed was he by the sight of the Venusians, but in the morning, he talked to them by radio and explained the very natural antipathy we experienced in seeing them or in having them see us. Now they no longer urge us to construct ether[-]ships and go to help then dispose of their ‘insects.’ I think they are afraid of us, and their very fear has aroused in mankind an unholy desire to conquer them.

  • 1930 O. Stapeldon Last & First Men (1937) 214 Olaf Stapledon bibliography

    It did not take the Fifth Men many centuries to devise a tolerable means of voyaging in interplanetary space…. The task of rendering the ‘ether ship’ properly manageable and decently habitable proved difficult, but not insurmountable.

  • 1933 ‘H. Vincent’ When Comet Returned in Amazing Stories Apr. 8/1 page image Harl Vincent bibliography

    The stowaway knew that the ethership was many millions of miles from its starting point, and his mind pictured the vast distance as a bottomless abyss into which we must inevitably be plunged headlong.

  • 1941 P. S. Miller Trouble on Tantalus in Astounding Science-Fiction Feb. 48/1 page image P. Schuyler Miller bibliography

    There, somewhere, was the mysterious Black Hole that had sucked a score of ether ships into oblivion since men first found this God-forsaken planet.

  • 1956 G. Barker They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers 180

    Saucerians, according to these informants, are not interplanetary visitors, as we would ordinarily consider that principle, but rather superior entities who exist in other dimensions of matter—a fourth dimension, if you choose to call it that. The BSRA prefers to call these entities ‘etherians’€™ and their saucers ‘ether ships’€™.

  • 1990 G. Zebrowski Lenin in Odessa in Alternate Heroes i. 329 page image George Zebrowski bibliography

    He was fascinated, for example, by the Michelson-Morley experiment to detect the aether wind, which was predicted on the basis of the idea of the earth’s motion through a stationary medium. When this detection failed, Reilly wrote a letter to a scientific journal (supplied to me by one of my intellectual operatives in London) insisting that the aether was too subtle a substance to register on current instruments. One day, he claimed, aether ships would move between the worlds.

  • 2006 B. Stableford Plurality of Worlds in Asimov’s Science Fiction 100 page image Brian Stableford bibliography

    Then affinity took hold of him—or, more accurately, the rising ether-ship slammed into his back, while the affinity that bound him to the Earth fought against the force of the rocket’s explosive levitation, trying with all its might to hold him down.

Research requirements

antedating 1883

Earliest cite

W. S. Lach-Szyrma, "Aleriel"

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1931 reprint of W. Olaf Stapledon's 1930 "Last and First Men". (This cite was subsequently misplaced, and we now have a cite from a 1937 reprint.)
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1951 reprint of P. Schuyler Miller's "Trouble on Tantalus"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1941 first appearance.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1933 cite from Harl Vincent's "When the Comet Returned".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a number of cites.
Jesse Sheidlower found a cite in the 1886 second edition of W. S. Lach-Szyrma's 1883 "Aleriel, or a Voyage to Other Worlds"; a reference librarian at LSU confirmed that it is found in the same form and pagination in the original edition. (It is not used in Lach-Szyrma's earlier (1874) "A Voice from Another World".)

Last modified 2022-02-18 17:30:41
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.