10. Gadgetry

Antigravity Ships

Designed, built, and used by the tendrilless slans. Considered to be their greatest invention, they are powered by their unique antigravity screen technology to make them weightless, although rockets are still used to propel the vehicle. The tendrilless slans have the means of detecting their antigravity screen technology when it's present in other ships; they can therefore track any ship when this technology is in use (109, 121).

The tendrilless ships patrol space within the solar system. As well as a complete dominance over most of the space within the solar system, they have explored the surfaces of the Moon, Mars, and Venus and gone as far out as Jupiter's moon, all without encountering any indication of true slans or extraterrestrial life (100).

The Air Central is the hub of their ship operations on Earth, where they are launched nightly at 10 o'clock, with others coming in at 2:30 in the dead of night (56). These particular ships go to and fro between Earth and Mars. Only twice in the space of six years was there an interruption, when there was a month-long period of inactivity when the red planet was on the far side of the sun (57).

The tendrilless ships come in the form of transports (93), destroyers (126), battle cruisers (109), troop transports (149), atomic cyclotrons (149-150), and gunboats (161) among many others. Their ships possessed weapons capable of quickly reducing spaceships to dust (117). The battleships were formidable, over a thousand feet in length and weighing 100,000 tons (109, 125). The cyclotron was the largest, roughly half a mile wide. Its wheel-shaped bulk carried a weapon in the form of a massive atomic accelerator capable of leveling mountains (149-51). Some of their ships also lay space mines (126).

The ships of both the true and tendrilless slans are most often described as torpedo-shaped (50, 60, 119). The true slan ships were in fact decoys of a sort, merely winged rockets far less advanced than the tendrilless vessels (113). Their main purpose was to make the tendrilless uneasy by forcing them to suspect that the slans couldn't possibly rely on such primitive technology (183).

Atomic Revolver

This functions like a regular electric-energy gun until its atomic function is engaged. Like many of Jommy's other inventions, it was designed to self-destruct if it fell into the wrong hands (160-1).

Atomic Vibration Decoy

A device invented by Jommy. It broadcasts radio waves designed to mimic the vibration put out by atomic engines, so the tendrilless slans tracking him would home in on the motor, thus allowing him to maneuver his spaceship unnoticed. After use, it was rigged to self-destruct (158-9).

Atomic Wedding Ring

The smallest of Jommy's weapons, this was capable of unleashing atomic destruction within a two-foot range. Like many of his other inventions, it was designed to self-destruct if it fell into the wrong hands. This was the only device Jommy took with him into the palace (160-1, 176).

Brain Reconstruction

A complex surgical technique used by slans (both tendrilled and tendrilless) to rebuild a brain that has been severely damaged. Injuries as grave as bullet wounds and crushed skulls can be repaired, given sufficient time. The body is put on artificial life support while "tissue-building rays" are used to heal the damage. Porgrave machines are used by the tendrilless in this operation to ensure the brain is being rebuilt correctly; a spouse, close friend, or relative is brought into the operation room to observe the patient's thoughts and give feedback to the surgeons. Jommy's hypnotism abilities could have done this task in a far shorter time than was required through Porgrave machines (167-9).


A device made possible by Peter Cross' discovery of the First Law of Atomic Energy. The Weapon built by Peter was the first functioning model employing this technique. Its principle was adapted and duplicated by Jommy to create a variety of larger weapons, attached to vehicles or as immobile emplacements, as well as devices to render craft invisible by incinerating photons that came into contact with his ship's hull (152-3).

Electric Energy Gun

Standard weapons used by the tendrilless slans. They come in various practical sizes (99), and hopefully in a variety of stylish designs.

Electric Filing Cabinet

Standard electronic information storage and retrieval machines. Similar to ordinary filing cabinets, the desired information could be called up onto a display screen through keyboard entry. This seems to be a tried and true technology — the Statistics Machines date from the mid-21st century, yet similar devices are still used 1500 years later (171, 173-4). This technology may have been preserved by the slans through the Nameless Period of the early 3rd millennium (see Timeline).

False Scalp

A method of disguising tendrils used by true slans. A liquid is applied over the scalp, which then hardens and resembles skin; the tendrils are laid flat and covered while the hairs still up through the material. This will stand up under the "toupée test" administered by the tendrilless slans (167).

The First Law of Atomic Energy

Jommy's father Peter Cross was a great scientist who made a single but vastly important discovery: the first law of atomic energy. Unlike earlier attempts to harness atomic energy, this employed concentrating the forces rather than dispersing them. (This is explained in far greater detail on pages 137-8 and 189- 90.) Apart from building a hand weapon employing this technique, Peter also made extensive notes on his research. Both were hidden away in the catacombs beneath Centropolis for his son to find. Jommy elaborated on his father's discoveries and found a wide variety of applications, creating new devices and weapons, such as Ten-Point Steel and Disintegrators.

Heated Clothing

Self-explanatory. Useful for cold environments such as the surface of Mars (157).

Hypnotism Crystals

These small crystals irresistibly fascinate anyone who looks at them, and they burrow a "tunnel" into their mind that allows true slans to totally circumvent any mental defenses the viewer may possess (155-6). They allowed for quick domination of an individual, though Jommy later gained such skill that he was able to reach the same effect, but at a slower speed, without the crystals (127, 176- 7). To dominate a slan mind in this manner required the target to be already weakened; Mrs. Corliss, whose brain was being reconstructed, offered few obstacles to this crystal-less method of control (168-9).

Artificially manufactured using his father's scientific discoveries, they are described as being "atomically unstable" and had to be stored in metal containers (154-5).

Hypnotic Education

A method of education used by Peter Cross to impart knowledge to his son (46). Apparently, great masses of knowledge could be implanted in a short period of time. In some cases the knowledge would only be "activated" by certain prearranged conditions. For instance, Peter was able to determine the exact day and time (2:00 in the afternoon on his 15th birthday) when the weapon's secret location would be released into Jommy's conscious mind (57). One's immediate surroundings could also trigger specific knowledge (61). Sometimes the instructions can be so specific and insistent that they override what one would do otherwise (46, 62).

Jommy's Car

Described as a "battleship on wheels" (124) it was a modified 7500 model automobile (146), completely refitted using his father's scientific discoveries. Larger than most cars, it was built out of the special ten-point steel to be virtually indestructible and had a powerful arsenal of weaponry at its disposal (134). The weapon in its nose could drill holes through solid matter, allowing it to flee any situation (136, 145). It was also capable of flight (140).

Jommy's Ship

An antigravity ship stolen from the tendrilless slans. It seemed to be a transport having at least four rooms, most of them used for storage of equipment and supplies (93-4).

The ship was improved by Jommy, adding a tougher exterior made of ten-point steel (125) and refitted with his father's atomic drive that was very powerful and required very little fuel (152, 154). It also carried a larger version of the disintegrator gun allowing it to traverse through solid matter (150), and "wall disintegrators" on the exterior of his ship that destroyed anything that came in contact with the hull. This served to destroy space mines on contact as well as rendering the ship invisible by eradicating light waves after they bounced off (152- 3). He was therefore able to see outside the ship while remaining undetectable as long as his atomic drives were offline.

Although it lay hidden in the mountain fortress near Granny's ranch, its ten- point steel exterior ensured its survival from the tendrilless attack, and its automated systems piloted it through the ground to the laboratory where Jommy could board it out of harm's way (150).


A device on Jommy's ship that could immobilize and pull along other ships (158-9).

Multipneumatic Chairs

Undoubtedly very comfortable indeed. Probably yet another vastly superior slan invention (171).

Mutation Machine

A device supposedly used by Samuel Lann on his wife, allowing her to bear the first slan children (84). In fact, no such device existed (175).

Paralyzing Ray

A hand-held weapon, one of Jommy's inventions. When fired it knocks the person unconscious and causes total paralysis of voluntary actions (155-6).

Porgrave Thought Broadcasters & Receivers

Recording machines invented by slans to record and broadcast thoughts.

These devices were used by the slans to notify fellow slans of the locations of refuges (131, 134) and safe passageways (178). In some instances the recorded message continuously broadcasts, looped to repeat at regular intervals (134). Although unable to "hear" the messages themselves, the human government deduced the existence of these machines in certain areas, based on the number of slans able to find hidden refuges (131).

Such was the fear of the tendrilless for the true slans that thought receivers were used extensively in their cities as a means of detecting the presence of a true slan; when certain thoughts were registered, the alarms rigged to these machines would go off (157). A person of sufficient mental discipline could avoid detection by these machines by limiting the emotional nature of their thoughts to whatever would be natural in the current situation (165, 168).

Both varieties of Porgrave machines could be used in tandem to transmit thoughts and emotions between individuals who have no telepathic ability. Such communication, however, was far from perfect, marred by distinct lapses in what could be conveyed. They were used in this capacity during Brain Reconstruction surgery (168-9).

Radio Telephones

Long-range communication devices. Known to be used for official state business, so secure lines might be one of their features (75).

Robot-Propelled Ships

Ships piloted by automated mechanisms on board. This control can be subverted through using radio signals to scramble the automated guidance. Such ships were used to drop messages purportedly from the slan ruling council (82).

Space Mines

Potent nuclear devices (138) laid in orbit around Earth by the tendrilless slans. They are spherical, roughly three feet wide. They are designed to follow and collide with ships that come nearby (126) and are powerful enough to destroy even a battlecruiser (138).

Statistics Machines (aka 'Stics)

Electronic information machines. These ancient electric filing cabinets were created in the 21st century and contain a vast repository of knowledge, and would eventually include Samuel Lann's diaries (which revealed the truth about the slans' origin) and the locations of several secret passages leading into the palace. After an indeterminate period of time on Earth, these machines were taken to Mars and used by the tendrilless slans (173-4).

Ten-Point Steel

Jommy uses a point system for measuring the maximum strength of a metal, with 1-point being the strongest possible. In the story, human civilization has reached the level of producing 750- point steel, and the tendrilless can produce 500-point steel. The latter seems to be the highest level that can be achieved through ordinary refinement techniques. Using his father's First Law of Atomic Energy, he has been able to create 10-point steel. Less than an inch of this material can withstand a point-blank nuclear explosion, though it will be a little battered and radioactive afterwards (126, 138). Using one of his inventions, Jommy was able to convert the foot-thick hull of his captured tendrilless spaceship from 500- to 10-point steel (125). Likewise, his automobile's exterior is also made of 10-point steel (134). Much of the structures on Granny's ranch were given a similar treatment (149).


see Places: Mars

The Weapon

A rod-like metal device that gives off a faint glow and is small enough to fit in one hand (63). Invented by Peter Cross, Jommy's father, it was hidden in the catacombs for Jommy to later obtain (5, 63). Based on Peter's discovery of the First Law of Atomic Energy, upon the activation of a simple button it spouts incredible raw energy resembling white flame and is capable of completely incinerating anything in its line of fire (63-4). It may also possess additional unknown abilities, such as creating "blind spots" in security systems (115).

When rigged inside the nose of the ship stolen from the tendrilless slans, it was able to drill a tunnel through solid matter to allow the ship to pass through the ground as though flying through open air (121).

This weapon was based on Peter Cross' discoveries which he explained in detail in his notes. The process required very little fuel and could be used to generate power and vibrations as well as destructive force (123). Jommy was able to put these discoveries to a wide variety of uses (123), including an unusual type of invisibility shield (153).

Wrist Radio

Portable device used by the tendrilless slans for easy communication (164)