7 Questionable, Yet Widely Accepted Devices in SciFi

7 Questionable, Yet Widely Accepted Devices in SciFi

The great thing about science fiction is that you can come up with a cool device, and it can work without any explanation what so ever.  The bad thing about these tools is that sometimes additional uses are seen or talked about, only to rarely or never be used that way again.  Or, on the other side, there are things which are given very little explanation, and thus, leave the viewer or reader scratching their heads.  Here are seven that are not only accepted in their respected franchises, but that we may just be able to wield ourselves one day.


The handheld weapon of choice for any Starfleet member.  A watered down version of the ships’ main guns, you should never beam down without one.  Any Trekkie (Trekker?  Trekkest?  What do they call themselves nowadays?) can tell you it can be set from “Stun” to “Kill”.  However, what a lot of people don’t know is the weapon actually has sixteen settings.  What are the other fourteen?  I have no idea.  They never get used.  I’m thinking one setting can light cigarettes, and another probably can taze you, bro, but that’s just speculation.

Speaking of onboard Phazers, the Navy is developing its own laser cannon, which it used to take down four drone planes in a test run.  If we ever get our space program back, maybe we can build a Death Star.

Storm Trooper’s E-11 Blaster Rifles


These standard issue weapons can pack quite a punch.  Also, they can be used to blast away boring conversations and ventilation ducts.  But what about when it was used against Princess Leia?  We saw a blue ring shoot out and knock her unconscious.  What was that all about?  That setting seems way more accurate and reliable than just lining twenty Troopers and letting them just shoot at stuff.  Why not use that one more often?

The Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver

The Doctor’s totally not a screwdriver tool, can seemingly do whatever he needs it to do.  According to the Dr. Who Wiki, it can be used in ways such as scanning for life forms, open almost anything, and deactivate machinery.  It can probably also take pictures and cook a Hot Pocket.  On occasion, it can be used as a weapon by shooting laser beams, which seems like something you’d want to use every single day.

There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason for what it can and cannot do, probably because even the writers know that this is a ridiculous plot point wrapped inside a show that already doesn’t care about covering its tracks.

Don’t pretend like it does.  The explanation for him looking different in every season is basically “just ‘cause”.


Remember how awesome it was when Ridely owned that Queen Alien with the exoskeleton?  That was pretty cool.

We may very well be preparing ourselves for this exact situation.  The U.S. Army has been toying with exoskeletons, and it seems like we are getting closer to being a little more alien proof.

Mouse Droids from Star Wars

These creepy little blocky Roomba things roam the halls of the Death Star.  And beyond that…we know nothing about them other than that they can be scared.  Do they vacuum?  Do they run messages?  Take lunch orders?

The Wookiepedia says it’s used for “delivery and maintenance”.  So…like a Roomba that brings you food, and then cleans up after.

Cloaking devices

From teen wizards, to killer aliens, to bounty hunters and short hairy people with evil rings, cloaking is really popular.  You can’t kill what you can’t see, and it certainly is on a list of things every boy in high school would want.  The biggest hurdle that never receives an explanation is how the devices trick the eye into not seeing what is there.

To bring fiction closer to fact, Berkeley is in the process of designing one such cloak.  Awesome.

Warp Drives

It seems that every franchise has a hyper drive of some sort. And while it’s cool when Han Solo does it, and it’s impressive that the Enterprise crew accidentally went back in time with theirs, the one franchise that had a relatively believable warp drive was in Cowboy Bebop.

Hyper space in Bebop was done by flying through a toll road-esque ring, which launched your ship through warp speed to the other end.  And while it did accidentally shift Earth’s axis into an asteroid field, it is certainly convenient.  And some scientists don’t think it’s completely impossible.  They say that it happened during the Big Bang, and maybe one day for ships.

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