Full record for continuum n.

Definition sense wanted is that commonly used in SF, a universe
OED requirements antedating 1938
Earliest cite Henry Kuttner, Jack Williamson
Comment Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1999 cite from a reprint of Ian McDonald's 1998 "The Days of Solomon Gursky".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1966 cite from A. Bertram Chandler's "Edge of Night".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1948 cite from editorial material in Planet Stories.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1949 cite from George O. Smith's "Fire in the Heavens".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1949 cite from Robertson Osborne's "Action on Azura".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1964 reprint of L. Sprague de Camp's 1952 story "The Blunderer".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1946 cite from George O. Smith's "Pattern for Conquest"
Mike Christie submited a 1940 cite from Henry Kuttner's "Reverse Atom"
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1949 reprint of Henry Kuttner's 1938 story "Hollywood on the Moon", and later verified the cite from the story's first publication in the Aprl 1938 Thrilling Wonder Stories. From the same issue, Fred also submitted a cite from Jack Williamson's "The Infinite Enemy".

Fred commented that he has the impression that it was quite common in SF for this word's plural to appear as "continuums", rather than the 'correct' form "continua"; we would be interested to see examples of such.

Last modified 9 July, 2009

Citations for continuum n.

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1938 J. Williamson Infinite Enemy in Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr. 49/1 In the end, all the matter in this Universe-continuum had been consumed—all save the body of its brother being. It attacked him, also. But Mock-sun protected himself. He created this silvery shield--walling himself, in fact, into a tiny sub-space manifold of his own.
1938 H. Kuttner Hollywood on Moon in Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr. 28/1 We're looking into fourth dimensional space‥So that's the explanation of the ether eddy. It marks the orbit of a body in another continuum—a fourth dimensional continuum. It's a hole in space, a hole created by a planet in another Universe.
1940 H. Kuttner Reverse Atom in Thrilling Wonder Stories Nov. 49/1 But this reservoir—Is another continuum. Another Universe, one separated from us perhaps by space and time, filled with potential and kinetic energy as our own Universe is so filled.
1946 G. O. Smith Pattern for Conquest in Astounding Sci. Fiction May 148/1 I doubt that the separation between different space continuums is infinitesimally small‥. More like a matter of a sort of quanta-separation. If the separation were not reasonably large, the energy necessary to break through would not be so great. I predict that we are in the space next door to our own.
1948 Planet Stories Fall 1 Down the time-track tumbled Andreson, to land in a continuum of ghastly matter-and-space reversal—and find a love that shattered the very laws of life!
1949 R. Osborne Action on Azura in Planet Stories Fall 78/1 On the thirty-third day out of Earth Central, the Special Agent heterodyned itself out of w-space and re-entered the normal continuum. The little 1400-ton vessel fell free toward the fifth planet of Procyon for half an hour before planetary drive was applied to slow it into an orbit.
1949 H. Kuttner Hollywood on Moon in Startling Stories July 122/1 We're looking into fourth dimensional space‥ So that's the explanation of the ether eddy. It marks the orbit of a body in another continuum—a fourth dimensional continuum. It's a hole in space, a hole created by a planet in another Universe.
1949 G. O. Smith Fire in Heavens in Startling Stories July 43/2 Suppose we postulate two side-by-side continuums. One is increasing in matter and energy as the other converts. This makes one build up while the other is running down. Then—vice versa. This may have happened at that unconceivable time, two thousand millions of years ago, when it is believed that our universe was started.
1964 L. S. de Camp Blunderer in Treasury Great Sci. Fiction Stories No. 1 74/2 He concluded, ‘Where am I then? In another dimension?’ His interlocutor winced. ‘You're a smart lad but don't use “dimension” in that pseudo-scientific sense! Call it another continuum.’‘All right, another continuum. On a planet that occupies the same space as ours, only in this other plane—’‘Not “plane”—that's occultism. Continuum.’‘All right, continuum, that goes around its sun at the same speed as ours.’‘You're mostly right, except there's no exact correspondence between Antichthon and Earth. Antichthon is actually somewhat smaller than the Earth and takes a longer radius. I can't explain it to you now but it's like those formulae for the location of an electron—they only tell you where it's most likely to be. So the connections between Earth and Antichthon are valid even though they don't coincide literally. Actually Antichthon is in the same continuum as Earth but at the other end, where the universe curves back on itself.
1964 L. S. de Camp Blunderer in Treasury Great Sci. Fiction Stories 74/2 He concluded, ‘Where am I then? In another dimension?’ His interlocutor winced. ‘You're a smart lad but don't use “dimension” in that pseudo-scientific sense! Call it another continuum.’ ‘All right, another continuum. On a planet that occupies the same space as ours, only in this other plane—’ ‘Not “plane”—that's occultism. Continuum.’ ‘All right, continuum, that goes around its sun at the same speed as ours.’ ‘You're mostly right, except there's no exact correspondence between Antichthon and Earth. Antichthon is actually somewhat smaller than the Earth and takes a longer radius. I can't explain it to you now but it's like those formulae for the location of an electron—they only tell you where it's most likely to be. So the connections between Earth and Antichthon are valid even though they don't coincide literally. Actually Antichthon is in the same continuum as Earth but at the other end, where the universe curves back on itself.’
1966 A. B. Chandler Edge of Night in Worlds of If Sci. Fiction Oct. 127/1 And that was when this alternative universe, this continuum in which Grimes and his people were invaders, had run off the historical rails.
1970 J. Blish Spock must Die! iii. 17 In a kind of continuum in which a transfinite number and variety of universes are possible.
1981 V. N. McIntyre Entropy Effect Prologue6 Dust swirled down toward the puncture in the continuum.
1990 D. Kramer-Rolls Home is Hunter x. 62, I was a part of a continuum of beings.
1999 I. MacDonald Days of Solomon Gursky 253 PanLife, that amorphous, multi-faceted cosmic infection of human, trans-human, non-human, PanHuman sentiences, had filled the universe long before the continuum reached its elastic limit and began to contract under the weight of dark matter and heavy neutrinos.