planet-buster n.

a bomb or other weapon capable of destroying a planet


  • 1950 B. Vanier Planet Buster! in Amazing Stories Feb. 162/2 page image Bob Vanier bibliography

    What will the future be like? No physicists have testified to a limit to bomb size. Does this mean that maybe in ten or twenty years actual ‘planet-busters’ will be made?

  • 1952 D. Knight Beachcomber in Imagination Dec. 84/1 page image Damon Knight

    Not like the planet busters; there is a defense against those, you just haven’t found it yet. But there actually was no defense whatever against their weapon.

  • 1959 F. Herbert Missing Link in Astounding Science Fiction Feb. 105/2 page image Frank Herbert bibliography

    We're going to take up a tight orbit. Out beyond us will be five transports full of I-A marines and a class IX Monitor with one planet-buster. You're calling the shots, God help you!

  • 1962 M. Z. Bradley Planet Savers in Planet Savers/Sword of Aldones (1982) iii. 27 Marion Zimmer Bradley bibliography

    A simple heatgun, to the Darkovan ethical code, is as reprehensible as a super-cobalt planetbuster.

  • 1962 H. B. Piper in Analog Science Fact–Science Fiction Nov. 38/2, H. Beam Piper

    I don’t see anything to shoot. Five hundred miles; one planetbuster, or four or five thermonuclears.

  • 1974 A. D. Foster Dark Star (1978) 11 Alan Dean Foster

    But they couldn’t chance letting one of those planet-busters back into Old Sol’s backyard.

  • 1986 ‘J. Tiptree, Jr.’ in Asimov’s Science Fiction May 157 James Tiptree, Jr.

    We don’t have to worry about being shot at; those planet-buster missiles are too big and slow to hit a small mobile target.

  • 1989 N. Pollotta & P. Foglio Illegal Aliens x. 95

    If this weren’t enough to scare any would-be criminals witless, secreted in dark asteroids throughout the galaxy were the Great Golden Ones' Planetbuster Bombs and Nova-grade lasers. These were never used, but perfectly capable of annihilating an entire solar system faster than you could say, ‘Just kidding!’

  • 1996 P. F. Hamilton Reality Dysfunction 12 Peter F. Hamilton

    They would have seen a brief surge in the apparent magnitude as Omuta’s mercenary ships dropped fifteen antimatter planet-buster bombs on their home world.

  • 1996 P. F. Hamilton Reality Dysfunction 12 Peter F. Hamilton

    But unlike an asteroid impact, where the energy release was purely thermal, the planet-busters each emitted the same amount of radiation as a small solar flare.

  • 1997 Interzone Dec. 12/1

    You could see it, across a quarter of a million miles, the surface of the Mare Imbrium billowing up into space, as the demonstration planet-buster went off beneath it, a quarter of the Moon’s old grey face convulsing in an instant.

  • 2007 N. Asher Alien Archaeology in Asimov’s Science Fiction 125 page image Neal Asher bibliography

    Penny Royal doesn’t look likely to be escaping, so maybe it can hold off on the planet busters.

Research requirements

antedating 1950

Earliest cite

B. Vanier 'Planet-Buster!'

Research History
Stuart Young submitted a cite from a reprint of Frank Herbert's "The Godmakers". James A. Landau submitted a cite from a reprint of H. Beam Piper's "Space Viking"; Mike Christie verified it in the original 1962 magazine appearance. Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1959 cite from Frank Herbert's "Missing Link"; this story was later made into part of Herbert's "The Godmakers". Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1993 reprint of Vernor Vinge's 1992 "A Fire Upon the Deep". Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1978 reprint of Alan Dean Foster's 1974 "Dark Star". Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1996 cite from Peter Hamilton's "The Reality Dysfunction". Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of Damon Knight's "The Beachcomber"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1952 original magazine appearance. Fred Galvin found a reference in the ISFDB to an article by Bob Vanier, "Planet-Buster!" published in Amazing Stories, February, 1950; Derek Hepburn verified this, and suppplied a cite from the article - in fact, the entire text of the two-line filler article.

The above cites are for weapons: Fred Galvin submitted a 1969 cite for "planetbuster" from James Blish and Norman L. Knight's "The Piper of Dis" in which the planetbuster is a natural force (a one mile diameter meteor)

We would like to see cites for planet-buster in the (n.) or (adj.) forms.

Last modified 2020-12-19 13:05:07
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.