An ansible is a kind of fictional device or technology. Ansibles can communicate faster than light. It can send and receive messages to and from a corresponding device over any distance or obstacle whatsoever with no delay, even between star systems. As a name for such a device, the word "ansible" first appeared in a 1966 novel Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin The word shortened from "answerable." It allowed users to receive answers to their messages quickly, even over interstellar distances.
In Le Guin's works[change | change source]
- The Dispossessed, Le Guin's 1974 novel in the Hainish Cycle, tells about the invention of the ansible.
- In The Word for World Is Forest, Le Guin explains for two ansibles to communicate, at least one "must be on a large-mass body" but the other can be anywhere.
- In The Left Hand of Darkness, Le Guin wrote that the ansible does not use radio but is similar to gravity.
Any ansible may be used to communicate through any other, by setting its coordinates to those of the receiving ansible. They have a limited bandwidth which only allows for at most a few hundred characters of text to be communicated in any transaction of a dialog session, and are attached to a keyboard and small display to perform text messaging.
Other writers[change | change source]
Many other writers have ansibles in their fiction. Examples include:
- Neal Asher, in his Polity series of novels including Gridlinked (2001), in which the runcible, named in homage to the ansible, is an interstellar wormhole generator/teleporter
- Becky Chambers, in the 2014 novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
- L.A. Graf, in the 1996 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Time's Enemy
- Jason Jones, in the 1995 computer game Marathon 2: Durandal
- Joe M. McDermott, in the 2017 novel The Fortress at the End of Time
- Elizabeth Moon, in the 1995 novel Winning Colors
- Remigiusz Mróz, in the 2014 space-opera The Chorus of Forgotten Voices (Chór zapomnianych głosów)
- Philip Pullman, in the 2000 novel The Amber Spyglass, part of the His Dark Materials trilogy.
- Kim Stanley Robinson, in the 2012 novel 2312
- Dan Simmons, in the 2003 novel Ilium
- Vernor Vinge, in the 1988 short story "The Blabber"
References[change | change source]
- Sheidlower, Jesse, ed. (July 6, 2008). "ansible n." Science Fiction Citations for the OED. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
- Bernardo, Susan M.; Murphy, Graham J. (2006). Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion (1st ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-313-33225-8.
- Quinion, Michael. "Ansible". World Wide Words.
- Le Guin, Ursula K. (2001) [June 1974]. The Dispossessed (mass ppb. ed.). New York: Eos/HarperCollins. p. 276. ISBN 0-06-105488-7.
They print Reumere's plans for the ansible. 'What is the ansible?' 'It's what he's calling an instantaneous communication device.'
- Graf, L.A. [Cercone, Karen Rose; Ecklar, Julia] (1996). Time's Enemy. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Vol. Invasion, Book 3. Simon and Schuster. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-6715-4150-7.
The two Dax symbionts can communicate with each other across space, instantaneously, because they're composed of identical quantum particles. I've become a living ansible, Benjamin.
- Jones, Jason; Kirkpatrick, Greg (November 24, 1995). Marathon 2: Durandal. Bungie.
A connection [?ansible] was left; awaiting the next quiet [?peace]; and though destroyed by the threes, it will scream over the void one time.
- McDermott, Joe M. (2017). The Fortress at the End of Time. Tom Doherty Associates. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-7653-9280-0.
We are born as memories and meat. The meat was spontaneously created in the ansible's quantum re-creation mechanism, built up from water vapor, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and various other gases out of storage. The memory is what we carry across from one side of the ansible to the other, into the new flesh.
- Moon, Elizabeth (1995). Winning Colors (mass ppb. ed.). Riverdale, NY: Baen. p. 89. ISBN 0-671-87677-5.
...when I was commissioned, we didn't have FTL communications except from planetary platforms. I was on Boarhound when they mounted the first shipboard ansible, and at first it was only one-way, from the planet to us.
- Robinson, Kim Stanley (2012). 2312. Orbit. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-316-19280-4.
- Simmons, Dan (2003). Ilium (hbk. ed.). New York: Eos/HarperCollins. p. 98. ISBN 0-380-97893-8.
I can see Nightenhelser madly taking notes on his recorder ansible.
- Vinge, Vernor (1988). "The Blabber". Threats & Other Promises. Riverdale, NY: Baen. p. 254. ISBN 0-671-69790-0.
'It's an ansible.' 'Surely they don't call it that!' 'No. But that's what it is.'