Ansible

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An ansible is a hypothetical machine capable of instantaneous or superluminal communication. Ansibles are used as plot devices in science fiction literature.

Contents

Origin

The word ansible was coined by Ursula K. Le Guin in her 1966 novel, Rocannon's World.[1] Le Guin states that she derived the name from "answerable," as the device would allow its users to receive answers to their messages in a reasonable amount of time, even over interstellar distances.[citation needed] Her award-winning 1974 novel The Dispossessed[2] tells of the invention of the ansible within her Hainish Cycle.

Usage

The name of the device has since been borrowed by authors such as Orson Scott Card,[3] Vernor Vinge,[4] Elizabeth Moon,[5] Jason Jones,[6] L.A. Graf,[7] and Dan Simmons.[8] Similarly functioning devices are present in the works of numerous others, such as Frank Herbert[9] and Philip Pullman, who called it a lodestone resonator.[10]

Anne McCaffery's Crystal Singer series posited an instantaneous communication device powered by rare 'Black Crystal' from the planet Ballybran. Black Crystals cut from the same mineral deposit could be "tuned" to sympathetically vibrate with each other instantly, even when separated by interstellar distances, allowing instantaneous telephone-like voice and data communication.

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