The many uses of HOLOGRAMS in science-fiction

Rimmer Red Dwarf

Rimmer Red Dwarf

If you know who that is up there, you’re geekaliciously awesome and I love you! *fist-bump*

So — holograms. In the sci-fi sense, not the scientifically correct holographic sense.

Star Trek made holograms commonplace. By far the most famous hologram out there is the Voyager’s EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram), or simply: our good old Doctor. But apart from torturing fellow crewmen with incessant opera singing, or playing cowboy and detective on the holodeck, holograms can serve multiple and very diverse purposes in science-fiction.

Here be a very brief roundup and categorization. Nothing scientific, nothing too fancy. Heck, probably nothing actually useful either. What do you expect? I’m writing this during breaks at the office, stealing time away from my edits, dammit!


The small

star-wars-hologramFrom table-sized projectors that spit up glowing three-dimensional, moving holograms of anything (scanned objects, models of ships and planets, and even body-scans), to thumb-sized projectors carried on our wrist, that can render the face of our interlocutor during a phone-call (or Facebook chat, or whatever demonic spawn that platform will have in another century or so).

Small holograms are perhaps the closest fictional holograms ever come to actual holographic projections (as are developed today). They are bound to their projection unit, i.e. they can’t take off on their own. They also don’t have any mind of their own. They’re basically just 3D representations of various objects. And that’s pretty cool! I’d replace my smartphone with a handheld holo-projector anytime. But it’d have to have good internet access and an embedded camera. 😉

The grand

holographicOn the other hand, we have large-scale holograms, from real-sized simulations of humans and immediate environments (the ones we know from Star Trek), to huge optical illusions like life-sized ships, cities, and even planets. And at the extreme, we can have a hologram of reality itself, similar to the virtual reality in the Matrix movies. Who knows, maybe we live on a galactic holodeck right now.

Holograms have been used in fiction on the grand scale, as well as the small. The best I’ve seen so far, were used for military purposes. The presence of ships could be simulated to distract the enemies in mid-fight; holograms could cover up the actual state of a space-station (to conceal damage, or readied weapons, for example); projections of additional forces could be used to intimidate an opponent and prevent an open fight. The uses are many, if you’re able to project a 3D image of arbitrary size.

Beside the military advantages, large scale holograms could also be used for entertainment. Of course. But my sick little mind only imagines sinister applications at this time. Inhabitable planets that seem to mysteriously elude visitors (can really fuck up a desperate crew trying to land). Space stations and satellites in orbit around a moon, simulating the presence of intelligent life, when in fact the place is infested with deadly fluoroantimonic acid-based organisms that eat through anything. Makes for a great decoy to alien invaders. And if your holographic projectors are really kickass, you can even simulate the end of the world and really piss off people.

Have any of you used holograms in your fiction? What kind and what for? 

* * *

          This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, April 2014.          

 In 2012, my H post was — Halftimes in Fiction

Published by Veronica Sicoe

Science Fiction Author — I deliver the aliens.

19 thoughts on “The many uses of HOLOGRAMS in science-fiction

  1. You mean there are people out there who don’t know Arnold J. Rimmer??!

    Pssst – I went to the filming of one of the new episodes, had a private tour of Starbug, and hung out with the cast in the green room afterwards 😀


  2. A few years ago, I came across an article online where Japanese scientists had figured out how tweak certain properties of light (photons?) to make “soft light” holograms that had weight and were somewhat tangible. I’d always wanted to incorporate that into a story, but lost the bookmark for the article on another computer.

    Since then, I’ve used holo-vids in a story as a way for someone to leave a message – video version of a voicemail. Boring and functional, but it was a good way to help narrate a recent story of mine. Now you’ve got me thinking of sinister uses for holos.


  3. I’m so glad to see Red Dwarf shown! When I saw your title, my first thought was something like, “I bet she’s not going to say anything about hard-light holograms. It’s good to see that I was wrong.
    My kids were singing the theme song to that just a couple of mornings ago and talking about how we need to re-watch it this summer.


  4. The idea of holograms in fiction has always been way ahead of what they’re like in real life. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever get there. Also, where are our jetpacks we were promised?



  5. Yes, I have used holograms in my writing. However not an reincarnated Rimmer – just Voyager like.

    However regarding Voyager, there was an episode where an Alien wanted seven-of-nine to join his team. He projected himself to the Captains quarter – and was able to sip the captains coffee there, without actually being present. He called the holograms technology on Voyager ‘crude’ (if my memory serve me right). I don’t remember what episode.

    We might have some nice ‘hologram’-like visual appliance soon. A few generations of 3D TV and other emerging technologies (from film and army labs) will get us closer. However the force fields that allow us to interact – hm – I don’t see that anytime soon.

    Would like to have my own ‘Holoroom’ at home 🙂


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