After Hours

75 words every sci-fi fan should know

Textbook barons Houghton Mifflin have of late proclaimed <em>100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know</em>. But if you're going to learn obscure words and concepts, it may as well be terms you're actually likely to use. Thus, we present <u><strong>75 Words Every Science Fiction Fan Should Know</strong></u>!

sfstack.jpgTextbook barons Houghton Mifflin have of late proclaimed 100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know, probably in an attempt to shame and terrify the average student into purchasing an appropriate SAT study guide. For those of us who grew up reading science fiction and/or comic books, the list reads like the margin notes of every classic supervillain's world-domination handbook. For some actual enlightenment, I recommend a different guide, Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, the polished dead-tree version of the OED's Science Fiction Citations Web site (found via SFSignal).

From the latter resource, with the addition of some personal selections from Wikipedia, I have gathered a list of 75 Words Every Science Fiction Fan Should Know. Because if you're going to learn obscure words and concepts, it may as well be terms you're actually likely to use.

  1. Alderson disk (n.)
  2. arcology (n.)
  3. areography (n.)
  4. astrogate (v.)
  5. avatar (n.)
  6. Bernal sphere (n.)
  7. chrononaut (n.)
  8. Clarke ring (n.)
  9. Clarke's First Law (n.)
  10. Clarke's Second Law (n.)
  11. Clarke's Third Law (n.)
  12. computronium (n.)
  13. contraterrene (adj.)
  14. Dyson sphere (n.)
  15. elsewhen (adv.)
  16. esper (n.)
  17. Faraday cage (n.)
  18. FTL (adj.)
  19. geas (n.)
  20. grey goo (n.)
  21. grok (v.)
  22. Jovian (adj.)
  23. kiloyear (n.)
  24. light cone (n.)
  25. light sail (n.)
  26. light-second (n.)
  27. Lofstrom loop (n.)
  28. mass-driver (n.)
  29. Matrioshka brain (n.)
  30. meatspace (n.)
  31. megastructure (n.)
  32. megayear (n.)
  33. mindfood (n.)
  34. nanotech (adj.)
  35. needler (n.)
  36. neutronium (n.)
  37. Niven ring (n.)
  38. O'Neill cylinder (n.)
  39. parking orbit (n.)
  40. precog (n.)
  41. pocket universe (n.)
  42. positronic (adj.)
  43. posthuman (n.)
  44. psi (n.)
  45. psychohistory (n.)
  46. quine (n.)
  47. ramscoop (n.)
  48. replicant (n.)
  49. rimworld (n.)
  50. ringwall (n.)
  51. Santa Claus machine (n.)
  52. sapient (n.)
  53. sentience (n.)
  54. Shkadov thruster (n.)
  55. Singularity (n.)
  56. skyhook (n.)
  57. sophont (n.)
  58. space elevator (n.)
  59. space fountain (n.)
  60. Stanford torus (n.)
  61. starwisp (n.)
  62. stellar engine (n.)
  63. superluminal (adj.)
  64. TANSTAAFL (n.)
  65. Tellurian (n.)
  66. terraform (v.)
  67. topopolis (n.)
  68. transhuman (n.)
  69. universal constructor (n.)
  70. uplift (n.)
  71. Von Neumann probe (n.)
  72. waldo (n.)
  73. wetware (n.)
  74. Whuffie (n.)
  75. xenology (n.)

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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