Ansible FTL Communicator

A faster than light communication device created in science fiction by author Ursula K. Le Guin. It is featured in her novels ROCANNON'S WORLD, THE WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, and THE DISPOSSESSED. Le Guin states that she derived the name from "answerable" (it was not created as an anagram of the word "lesbian"). The name of the device has since been borrowed by authors such as Orson Scott Card, Vernor Vinge, Elizabeth Moon, L.A. Graf, and Dan Simmons.


In science fiction, particularly bad, campy, or tongue-in-cheek science fiction, a BEM is a "Bug-Eyed Monster," i.e., a stereotypical malevolent creature. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Dirac FTL Communicator

A faster than light communication device created in science fiction by author James Blish. It is featured in his CITIES IN FLIGHT novels and the novel THE QUINCUNX OF TIME. In the latter novel the Dirac is revealed to have a rather alarming side effect. It is also used in the novel BEYOND CAPELLA by John Rackham. The name comes from physicist Paul Dirac, who predicted the existence of antimatter.

D.R. blaster

In the movie Forbidden Planet, Dr. Morbius asks Captain Adams "May I borrow that formidable looking sidearm?" "D.R." probably stands for "Disintegrator Ray".

Duck and Cover

In a 1950's civil defense film, Bert the Turtle taught American schoolchildren to "duck and cover" to protect themselves from nuclear attack. That was much less depressing than the more realistic "kiss your derrière good-bye." While it is easy to make fun of Bert, Carl Naaman Brown points out that most schools of the time were far from potential nuclear targets, and hiding under one's school desk would provide plenty of protection from flying glass, debris, and heat flash.

"Good Lord! Choke!"

Common exclamation on the last frame of the old EC horror comic books.


The Gyrojet: an ancient toy or weapon, depending. It was a rocket pistol, made during the 1960s, then discontinued. This one had been stolen from someone's house and later sold to McAllister, secretly, a full twelve years ago.

A rocket pistol. How could any former Buck Rogers fan have turned down a rocket pistol?

From The Alibi Machine by Larry Niven

In the original 1928 Buck Rogers comic strip, the American freedom fighters are armed with rocket pistols, while the sinister Mongol Hordes have deadly disintegrator rays.

Hand Waving

Attempting to get past a moment when a difficult explanation is required. Usually insubstantial words or impressive but bogus explanations are used in an attempt to convince the audience that the matter has been adequately explained. The handwaving metaphor comes from the body language of politicians and side-show barkers. Go to The Tough Guide to the Known Galaxy and read the entry "HANDWAVIUM".


In Norse mythology, Nifflheim is one of the two places where the souls of Norsemen go when they die, the place where the bad Norsemen go (Which they define as those who have died ingloriously of disease or in old age, or dishonorable people who have broken oaths. But I digress). Hell, in other words. The term is used as a synonym for Hell in the classic novel Space Viking by H. Beam Piper.


The old bromide is that one can identify a pioneer by all the arrows in their backs.

Mr. Tyco Bass

Supporting character from the "Mushroom Planet" children's novels by Eleanor Cameron: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet, Mr. Bass' Planetoid, and Time and Mr. Bass. Atomic tri-tetramethylbenzacarbonethylene is Mr. Bass' rocket fuel additive, four drops is enough to lift a rocket into Earth orbit.


Slang for "C.T" or "Contra-terrene." A fancy name for antimatter, coined by Jack Williamson.

Sine qua non

From the Latin, it literally means "without which nothing", and commonly means "the essential, crucial, or indispensable ingredient without which something would be impossible." This phrase was a favorite of E.E."Doc" Smith, and appears in many of his novels.


The common 1950's era science fictional term for "Planet Earth". Human beings are commonly called "Terrans." A noted exception is in the books of E.E."Doc" Smith and C.S. Lewis who uses the term "Tellus" and "Tellurians" from the Roman term. Go to The Tough Guide to the Known Galaxy and read the entry "TERRA"

When Wind Blows

Australian slang for nuclear war.

Whitney Wolverine

The legendary Gharlane of Eddore once said:

Or how about the Whitney "Wolverine," the .22 pistol from about forty years back that looked like it had come from sixty years in the future? I once helped out a friend in dire need of hand-props for a SkiFfy movie by suggesting he use some of those. Saved him a bundle.... the problem was prying them loose from the actors so we could return them to the folks we'd rented them from!

David G. Potter

In reference to picture to the right he said:

Note that the picture is one of the blued/anodized models; the ones you want to use as hand-props in SkiFfy movies are the stainless-steel and passivation-anodized ones, a creamy silvery color with iridescent rainbow highlights. some production runs used a magnesium-aluminum alloy shroud which wouldn't take bluing, but anodized nicely, in some very pretty colors.

David G. Potter

Interestingly enough, the Whitney Wolverine is now back in production from Olympic Arms.

Atomic Rockets notices

This week's featured addition is SPIN POLARIZATION FOR FUSION PROPULSION

This week's featured addition is INsTAR

This week's featured addition is NTR ALTERNATIVES TO LIQUID HYDROGEN

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