Latest By

Artificial Intelligence
Data Storage
Input Devices
Living Space
Space Tech
Virtual Person

"This category [science fiction] excludes rocket ships that make U-turns, serpent men of Neptune that lust after human maidens, and stories by authors who flunked their Boy Scout merit badge tests in descriptive astronomy."
- Robert Heinlein

  A special glove made of impact-sensitive plastic.  

This glove is made of a material that is described in the book as "trigger-rigid."

...a Karatand... It was in effect a palmless glove made of impact-sensitive plastic about a quarter-inch thick. Pressed, pinched, drawn on or off the hand, it remained flexible and nearly as soft as good leather. Struck against a resistant surface, its behavior changed magically, and while the interior stayed soft to act as a cushion against bruising, its outer layers became as rigid as metal.

He thrust his fingers into it and spun around, slamming his fist at the wall. There was a solid thud, and the muscles of his upper arm and shoulder complained, but the Karatand reacted as designed. It was several seconds before he could straighten his fingers against the resistance of the relaxing plastic.

From Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner.
Published by Del Rey in 1968
Additional resources -

Brunner suggests that more could be done with the concept:

You could have real polyform furniture that changed not only its shape but its texture, like Karatands do, over a range from fur to stainless-steel slickness...


He pointed at a pile of baggage stacked in the corner. "Some of that is gear reclaimed from your own apt. Some of it's new. All the new stuff is trigger-rigid, like a Karatand. Make sure you're wearing some of the new clothing all the time over your vital organs. It's almost bullet-proof and an excellent insulator.

Karatands are available now - they're made of substances like d3o. Here's a picture of a modern-day Karatand:

See the article on d3o-based RibCap: Flexible-Rigid Beanie-Helmet For Snowsports to learn about modern-day shear-thickening fluids used in clothing and sportswear.

Compare this item to the flexible armor suit from Larry Niven's 1967 work Neutron Star.

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

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Stand on Zanzibar
  More Ideas and Technology by John Brunner
  Tech news articles related to Stand on Zanzibar
  Tech news articles related to works by John Brunner

Articles related to Material
New Glass Tough As Steel
Blackest Black? New Disordered Nanostructured Material
Boeing Creates Lightest Metal Ever
Light Molecules (And Maybe Light Sabers, Someday)

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.





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 Invention Timeline, or see what's New.





More News

Solowheel Xtreme Heinlein Tumblebug Video
'The cadets 'stood to horse' alongside their poised tumblebugs...'

Algorithm Predicts Marriage Success (HAL 9000 Will See You Now)
'I can tell from your voice harmonics, Dave, that you're badly upset....'

Denmark Island Earth (Verdenskortet ala Ringworld)
'They wanted to keep something of what they were losing...'

Humai Startup To Implant Your Brain In Robot Body
'The astounded onlookers saw a human brain snugly encased in a transparent skull-shaped receptacle.'

Blue Origin Reusable Rocket's Vertical Landing
We're getting there, one launch at a time.

X125 Snake-Arm Inspection Robot Video
'... long, flexible, glittering tentacles...'

Super-Thin Smart Glazing Displays
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'

Have Scientists Found A Parallel Universe Leaking Into Ours
'Ellis had found a weak point, a shimmer, at which another continuum completely had been visible.'

Active Wellness Smart Car Seat
'Maybe the car was right...'

Tech Tats Prototype Sfnal Devices
'...Permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.