cycle n.

a (specific) interval of time

OED records 19th-century evidence for the sense โ€˜a long but indefinite period of time; an ageโ€™; the SF uses generally refer to a definite although usually unspecified interval.

  • 1918 E. R. Burroughs People That Time Forgot in Blue Book Oct. 201/2 Edgar Rice Burroughs bibliography

    โ€˜...His name is Jor, and both he and my mother came up from the beginning; but one of them, probably my mother, had completed the seven cyclesโ€™ (Approximately seven hundred years), โ€˜with the result that their offspring might be cos-ata-lo, or born as are all the children of your race, my Tom, as you tell me is the fact. ...โ€™

  • [1931 E. E. Smith Spacehounds of IPC in Amazing Stories Aug. 411/2 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    Gigantic craters, in whose yawning depths no spark of warmth had been generated for countless cycles of time, were surrounded by vast plains eroded to the dead level of a windless sea.]

  • 1935 D. Wandrei Whisperers in Astounding Stories May 143/2 page image Donald Wandrei bibliography

    The whisper audible to human ears was the combined sound of trillions and trillions of micro-beings who talked and flourished and evolved through an existence that was time-extended to centuries and cycles for them, but which was time-foreshortened to moments and hours in the universe of man.

  • 1937 J. R. Fearn Worlds Within in Astounding Stories Mar. 18/2 page image John Russell Fearn bibliography

    For hundreds of cycles ill health has been unknown amongst us. How can I possibly be unwell?

  • 1944 D. W. Rimel Secret of Atlantis in Centauri (#2) Winter 20 page image Duane W. Rimel

    Now you have comeโ€”you solved the riddle of that seal which sent my remote ancestors here. You are the first for many, many cycles. We have given up hope.

  • 1955 E. B. Cole Millennium in Astounding Science Fiction May 8/1 page image Everett B. Cole bibliography

    An inspection team was supposed to visit once a cycle for about fifty cycles, then once each five cycles after that. They would have taken care of maintenance. This operation was set up quite a while ago, you know.

  • 1964 P. Anderson Three Worlds to Conquer xii. 86 page image Poul Anderson bibliography

    Lorraine might conceivably get together a few men who were willing to die in an attack on the guards, while Fraser used the diversion to get away. But sounding them out, overcoming their suspicions of her, assembling their gear, would take many cycles.

  • 1969 B. A. Weissman Genemaster in Worlds of If Nov. 71/1 page image Barry Alan Weissman bibliography

    Around Tarsus I woke him up and introduced him to the universe. A fine lad he was, aged by biostim to a healthy fifteen cycles and with a good quick intelligence.

  • 1988 N. Kress Alien Light i. 275 page image Nancy Kress bibliography

    I watched you in the Hall of Teaching, the first time Grax brought the small enlarger. Cycles and cycles ago. You took a cell sample from your inner cheek by scraping it with your knife.

  • 2001 E. Brown Ascent of Man in Interzone (#167) May 53/1 page image Eric Brown bibliography

    They copulated frequently, and within a dozen cycles his mate was with child.

  • 2021 C. J. Anders Victories Greater Than Death 67 Charlie Jane Anders bibliography

    Bad news, we canโ€™t outrun it at .57 luminals per cycle, unless we get our engines back online.


Research requirements

antedating 1918

Earliest cite

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Research History
Suggested, and most quotations submitted by, Ben Ostrowsky.

Last modified 2021-07-22 14:35:30
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.