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

"Beyond a thousand years from now humans are not quite recognizably human, and I have trouble finding characters."
- Larry Niven

Fontema  
  A strange two 'wheeled' animal.  

"There's something moving closer than that, and it's really funny." Jack laughed deeply. "Its like the paddle-wheels, shaft and all, of an old-fashioned river steamboat, rolling along as unconcernedly as you please. He won't miss me by over four feet, but he isn't swerving a hair. I think I'll block him off, just to see what he does."

The traveler paid no attention, did not alter its steady pace of a couple of miles per hour. It measured about twelve inches long over all; its paddle-wheel-like extremities were perhaps two inches wide and three inches in diameter.

"Do you think it's actually alive, sir? In a place like this?"

"I'm sure of it. Watch carefully."

It struck the barrier and stopped. That is, its forward motion stopped, but its rolling did not. Its rate of revolution did not change; it either did not know or did not care that its drivers were slipping on the smooth, hard sand; that it could not climb the vertical metal plate; that it was not getting anywhere.

"What a brain!" Northrop chortled, squatting down closer. "Why doesn't it back up or turn around? It may be alive, but it certainly isn't very bright."

The creature, now in the shadow of the 'Troncist's helmet, slowed down abruptly - - went limp -- collapsed.

"Get out of his light!" Jack snapped, and pushed his friend violently away; and as the vicious sunlight struck it, the native revived and began to revolve as vigorously as before. "I've got a hunch. Sounds screwy -- never heard of such a thing -- but it acts like an energy-converter. Eats energy, raw and straight. No storage capacity -- on this world he wouldn't need it -- a few more seconds in the shade would probably have killed him, but there's no shade here. Therefore, he can't be dangerous."

He reached out and touched the middle of the revolving shaft. Nothing happened. He turned it at right angles to the plate. The thing rolled away in a straight line, perfectly contented with the new direction. He recaptured it and stuck a test-prod lightly into the sand, just ahead of its shaft and just inside one paddle wheel. Around and around that slim wire the creature went: unable, it seemed, to escape from even such a simple trap; perfectly willing, it seemed, to spend all the rest of its life traversing that tiny circle.

From First Lensman, by E.E. 'Doc' Smith.
Published by Fantasy Press in 1950
Additional resources -

I don't usually put non-engineered animals in the index, but I couldn't resist. The fontema is a dead ringer for NASA's latest lunar robotic explorer - the Axel rover.

Compare to the spider tripod biot from Rendezvous With Rama (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke.

Thanks to Alvaro for suggesting this item.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 1 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from First Lensman
  More Ideas and Technology by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
  Tech news articles related to First Lensman
  Tech news articles related to works by E.E. 'Doc' Smith

Fontema-related news articles:
  - Axel Rover Robotic Crater Explorer Yo-Yo-Bot
  - Pothole Detection Technology Expands

Articles related to Biology
DNA May Contain Malware
GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis

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 Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '

Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'

Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'

Fabric Automatically Cools Or Insulates Based On Environment
'...a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system.'

Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.