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Entry updated 1 March 2013. Tagged: Theme.

An item of sf Terminology originated by Robert A Heinlein in his short novel "Waldo" (August 1942 Astounding; with 1 other story as Waldo & Magic, Inc., coll 1950; vt Waldo: Genius in Orbit, coll 1958). The eponymous hero suffers from a crippling wasting of the muscles, and invents a number of remote-control grasping and manipulating devices, also called waldoes, to amplify the power of his feeble muscular movements. The term has since come into general use in Technology to describe a whole range of such remote-control devices or prosthetics, now commonplace; it is used without any need for explanation in William Gibson's "Burning Chrome" (July 1982 Omni). It has expanded in meaning to include devices for handling radioactive or other dangerous materials in isolation from the handler, and those concerned with fine and precise rather than powerful movements. The EVA pods of the Spaceship in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) are equipped with recognizable waldoes. [PN/DRL]

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