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"If you don't care about science enough to be interested in it on its own, you shouldn't try to write hard science fiction."
- Frederik Pohl

Chalf (Quick-Scribe Powder)  
  A special powder that forms itself into words and symbols.  

Chalf is a truly unique idea. If you think about it, laser printer toner (the fine carbon material) is a similar powder, that is fixed onto the paper to form words and symbols. But, do you really need the paper?

McKie brought a white vial from his copious jacket, scattered metallic powder on the desktop.

Watt pushed himself back from his desk, eyeing the powder with suspicion. He took a cautious sniff, smelled chalf, the quick-scribe powder. Still...

"It's just chalf," McKie said. And he thought: If he buys that, I may get away with this.

"So scribe it," Watt said.

Concealing his elation, McKie held a chalf-memory stick over the dusted surface. A broken circle with arrows pointing to a right-hand flow appeared in the chalf.

From The Tactful Saboteur, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Galaxy in 1964
Additional resources -

Chalf also offered the devious Jorj X. McKie, saboteur extraordinary, with an opportunity to do what he did best. His boss, Clinton Watt, was right to be suspicious.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Tactful Saboteur
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to The Tactful Saboteur
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

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