Three By Three: Sci-Fi Gadgets

Sci-Fi GadgetsThe Category

We here at Pop Modern, as you may have noticed, are big fans of science fiction. Whether it’s a big budget summer blockbuster or two guys in their backyard with rubber masks and half-faded glowsticks, something about the genre is infectious. Science fiction dares us to dream, to think beyond the confines of our reality, and to see our world in a whole new light. That, and there are so many flashy gizmos. So, in honor of this beloved genre and all of its assorted baubles and whats-its, this week we’ve decided to bring you our favorite sci-fi gadgets.

The Choices


The Tricorder from Star Trek: Some of my favorite fictional gadgets are the ones based in concrete reality. The Star Trek series is known for a fairly serious tone and deep fiction, and the tricorder is an essential part of any starship team’s equipment. It’s essentially an all-in-one device, capable of foreign atmosphere analysis, cross-species communication, and even basic teleportation. Like The Force, tricorders are cooler when they aren’t explained in the universe, and are just this magical, cell phone-esque piece of technology that comes in handy at all the right times. 

The Neuralizer from Men in Black: We’ve all wanted to forget certain parts of our lives, or erase our actions from the minds of others. With the neuralizer from Men in Black, nothing is permanent. Tired of holding a grudge against someone? Tell them how you feel, and then wipe their memories! There’s something inherently nefarious about messing with the minds of others, but isn’t the breaking of the laws of physics part of what makes sci-fi so much fun?

The Holographic Touch Screen from Minority Report: Yet another gadget that we’re mere years away from, the computers in Minority Report function only to make Tom Cruise look cool while he researches criminals, but it’s actually a fascinating piece of tech. Slip on some gloves, enter a password, and you’re interfacing with a high-tech computer. The practical implications are mind-blowing, but I mostly want a touch-based hologram computer so that I can finally live out my dream of lazily browsing the Internet with just my fingertips.


Darth Maul’s Double-Bladed Lightsaber from Star Wars: On every sci-fi gadget list, there needs to be an obligatory lightsaber. The thinking man’s weapon, the lightsaber requires years of training, and a keen reliance upon the Force. While this is fine, like most good things it’s even better if you double it. The double-bladed lightsaber is probably extremely impractical, and leads to self-mutilation more than it leads to enemy injury. With that being said, the double-bladed lightsaber is every kid’s dream come true, a combination of staff and sword. If not for me, this choice would still be important so that my 8-year-old self did not preemptively kill me.

The Heart of Gold from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The ship from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was as improbable as the books themselves. The power source for the ship ran on infinite improbability, and as such, anything could happen while using it. Knowing exactly how improbable any event is allows it to happen, usually without too many permanent side effects. The ship really holds its own when it comes to technology and style, a combination of raw power with the smug, opulent feel to let you know that the ship will never need to use any of its power. Note: Hangs in the sky in much the same way as a brick doesn’t.

The Web-Shooters from Spider-Man: This is another invention that my 8-year-old self would require. Though it would probably wrench my arm out of its socket, I would need to try to swing around the Cleveland skyline, fighting crimes with the aide of my web-shooters. Versatile and fun, the webs can be used in place of typical adhesives saving hundreds of dollars on crazy glue. Then again the cost of web-shooters would probably offset the savings, but you need to spend some money to keep happy.


The Portal Gun from PortalThe perfect blend of rad and utilitarian, Chell’s Portal Gun from the acclaimed puzzle-shooter is a must-have addition to any arsenal of science-fiction gadgets. After all, not only are there endless uses for such a weapon in battle, espionage, and other strategic applications, it’s also a drastic improvement to one’s quality of life. The sky’s the limit when it comes to portals, and any quotidian task would be rendered either significantly easier or just plain obsolete with a Portal Gun.

The Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future: I figured it would raise a few too many eyebrows if I put a time-travelling DeLorean into the “gadget” category, so I settled for another tribute to the classic science fiction series that would ultimately be far more useful in everyday life: The Mr. Fusion. Think about it, a thermos-sized reactor that can turn trash into green energy. That’s monumental, that little gadget would change our lives as we know it. Sure, it’s no time machine, maybe it’s about time we focus on wacky gadget that would solve our problems, rather than lump physics-bending paradoxes on top of them.

The Thermal Detonator from Star WarsFor my last choice, I thought I’d cool off on the practicality spiel and go for something a bit more deadly. Unfortunately, James already went and grabbed the lightsaber, so I had to poke around the Star Wars universe for something just as deadly, though much less dignified. I’m talking about the thermal detonator, the hand grenade to end all hand grenades, the explosive that can make Boba Fett quiver in his boots and Jabba the Hutt quiver in his…well, he’ll be quivering.

The Conclusion

Questioning why we chose what we did? Quibbles, queries, or any other issues with our selections? Quell your frustration by heading down to the comments and making yourself heard. Quaking, we’re practically quaking in anticipation.


Frames of Preference: Beneath A Steel Sky

Beneath A Steel SkyEven though I’ve played plenty of adventure games, few have stuck with me more than Beneath A Steel Sky. Set in a dystopian future, the story follows Robert, a man taken from his home and brought to a strange floating city. It’s your typical point-and-click adventure fare, but the environments, characters, and plot revelations set it apart from its contemporaries. It was surprisingly dark for the time, and the Remastered version features interstitial art from Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. The unique color palette and use of backgrounds to tell stories comes through in this frame.