Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"[Science fiction is ] That branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings."
- Isaac Asimov

Biological Warfare  
  The use of microorganisms to defeat an enemy; this is the first reference in science fiction that I can find to this concept.  

As far as I know, this is the first direct reference in science fiction to the idea of fighting an enemy or defeating an enemy using biological agents. (Note: I've been informed that T. Mullett Ellis wrote on this topic earlier in ZALMA in 1895; aerial anarchists plot to attack capital cities with anthrax dropped from balloons).

In another moment I had scrambled up the earthen rampart and stood upon its crest, and the interior of the redoubt was below me. A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange shelter places. And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians--dead!--slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things--taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many--those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance--our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

From The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells.
Published by Unknown in 1898
Additional resources -

Biological warfare has been around for at least 2500 years. In the sixth century B.C., the Assyrians used rye ergot to poison enemy wells. In the fifth century B.C., Scythian archers dipped their arrows into animal dung to cause wounds to fester.

The Romans were known to use dead animals to foul the water supplies of their enemies. The Tartars of Russia reputedly had the idea of catapulting bodies infected with bubonic plague over the walls of the city of Kaffa; this may have aided the spread of the Black Death in Europe.

During the Indian wars in North America, the British distributed blankets that were taken from known smallpox sufferers. It is true that the Native American population was devastated by diseases introduced by the new settlers; whether or not the British strategy actually spread the disease is not known.

(Thanks to Simon for this one!)

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The War of the Worlds
  More Ideas and Technology by H.G. Wells
  Tech news articles related to The War of the Worlds
  Tech news articles related to works by H.G. Wells

Articles related to Weapon
LANIUS Loitering Drone Munition Scouts And Maps
Israel Deploys Sharp Shooter AI-powered Robot Guns
Drone Loiter Munitions Now Available
Anduril Lattice Anvil Counter Drone System

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

Megachurches Catch Up To Heinlein
'Mars,' the kid repeated, threw Boone a Scout salute and made a sixty-foot leap over the crowd.

Olympus 3D Printing Using Lunar And Martian Materials
The system may be used to create critical infrastructure on the Moon, including landing pads, blast shields, and roads.

Robot Builds Robots From Voxel Subunits
'I was patiently building the most dangerous thing in creation...'

Meltz Neurorehabilitation Robotic Hand
A new type of rehabilitation called "neuro-rehabilitation.

San Francisco Wants ED-209, Or Maybe Robocop
'The Enforcement Droid series 209 is a self-sufficient law enforcement robot...'

Seoul Self-Driving 42dot Bus Unveiled
'Buses without drivers moved close to the curb and stopped at intervals.'

T. Gondii And The Leaders Of The Pack
'... infected males were more than 46 times more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected males.'

'Parastronaut' First Astronaut With Disability From ESA (Updated!)
'He had left Earth to get away from its gravitational field...'

MIT Self-Assembling Reprogrammable Materials
'Faster the cubes moved; faster the circle revolved; the pyramids raised themselves, stood bolt upright on their square bases...'

Mem, The All-Your-Memories, Super Note-Taking App
'Life experience is linearly additive, but the correlation of memory impressions is an unlimited expansion.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.