Today in cool internet passion projects: the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.
If you’re on the hunt for new literary rabbit holes, today is your lucky day. The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction, created by lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower (a former editor of both the OED and Random House Dictionaries) is “a comprehensive quotation-based dictionary of the language of science fiction,” and an excellent resource for word nerds and sci-fi fans alike.
The entry for each word or phrase includes a brief definition followed by a timeline of its occurrences in literature, film, and criticism, with quotations. For instance, if you’re a US Senator who wants to crow about how the cancellation of his book contract is “Orwellian,” you might be interested to note that the word appeared in a 1949 edition of the St. Alban’s Daily Messenger: “Almost all the Orwellian techniques of a future totalitarianism are found here.” Or if you want to give your endless Zoom meetings some historical context, you can note that in the 1944 book Television, R.E. Lee predicted your current misery in his writing about the “videophone”: “We shall undoubtedly see videophones replacing telephones in common usage.”
Still not convinced? Take a look at the entry for “meat puppet” and tell me you don’t want more.