Science Fiction Put Words In Our Mouths

Science fiction doesn't just glimpse the future - it invents the scientific vocabulary of the present, according to an editor from the Oxford English Dictionary, who's listed nine scientific terms that came from science fiction.

The list comes from Jeff Prucher, a freelance writer and editor of the OED's science fiction project. He put out a Hugo-winning book Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary Of Science Fiction, which just came out in paperback.

The list includes the sciences of "robotics," named by Asimov in 1941, and "genetic engineering," coined by Jack Williamson in the same year. Williamson also gave us ion drive, in 1947's "The Equalizer." Meanwhile, E.E. "Doc" Smith gave us "deep space" and "pressure suit." David Gerrold invented the term "computer virus" in his novel When Harlie Was One, while John Brunner came up with the idea of a worm in Shockwave Rider. Then there are "gas giant," from James Blish, and "zero gravity/zero-G" from Arthur C. Clarke.

[Oxford University Press via Abe Books]