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Episode 51: Reading Vocabulary, Part 2 - Science-Fiction

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Do you enjoy reading science fiction (a.k.a., sci-fi) or dreaming about space travel? Then today's episode is for you!


I'm sorry this post is so late! We had some lovely guests over when I normally would record, and while I tried to create enough podcasts ahead of time....well, let's just say that between juggling the baby, finishing unpacking, and guest preparation, it just didn't happen. :D Hopefully I have included enough awesome information in this episode to make up for my tardiness!

Fiction Vocabulary

As you probably already know, this two-part series on expanding your vocabulary for fiction literature all came about because of an Anne McCaffrey book. I was trying to read one of her sci-fi/fantasy books in Spanish, and to my horror, I had no idea what was going on in the first few pages. What I realized is that a lot of my Spanish vocabulary is conversational and academic, with very little focused on the sci-fi and fantasy realms. I am determined to correct that. As I'm sure I'm not the only one who has run into this problem (nor the only language learner who loves a good sci-fi or fantasy book!), I decided I would do two episodes dedicated to helping others expand their fiction vocabulary. In the first part, (see episode 49) we focused on fantasy-specific terms. In this episode, we'll focus on sci-fi. And for the cultural tips, we'll continue with mythical creatures from Spanish-speaking countries!

Sci-Fi Terms

In the following sections, I will include vocabulary for specific things (actions, people/creatures, places, and things), and then a mini-story to help cement the new vocab in your brain. This format seemed to work for the previous episode on fantasy vocabulary, so I figured I would try it again! (Let me know what your thoughts are: do you love this format, or would you rather I try something else?)


Here is a list of various actions people take during their space adventures.

(Click on the arrows to see all of the slides, including the Spanish translations!)

*If you are going to clone or shoot at someone, don't forget to include that personal a.


Captain Blair sat at the console, silently contemplating the screen. His spacecraft, The Barmaid, currently volaba to the planet terraformado of Lucrenia. He estaba transportando much-needed supplies for the colony there, as well as several important passengers who were currently en criosueño. Blair había pilotado The Barmaid for several years now, and the two of them had had many adventures while exploraban the outskirts of known space. He had watched a planet explotar, se había comunicado con an alien race that se clonó themselves for propagation, and even discovered a marvelous tropical creature with limited abilities para viajar en el tiempo. Yes, he had seen many strange things. And it was his ability to quickly analizar a situation and react accordingly that had kept him alive. The woman on the screen cleared her throat, bringing him back to the present moment. "Captain Blair, I ask again. Are you willing a negociar the terms of your surrender?" She already le había comunicado her expectations, such as teletransportar the entirety of his cargo to her hold. He knew her ship's guns were aimed on his, and there would be limited time before his shields gave way once they began disparar. Negociar for leniency would be futile; he knew too much.

Making his decision, he abruptly turned off the screen, transmitió an SOS, and configuró phasers to kill.

People and Creatures

Here is a list of important words regarding different types of people and creatures you might see in a sci-fi book.

(Click on the arrows to see all of the slides, including the Spanish translations!)

*Insectil, as far as I can tell, is the correct word to use (according to the RAE), but it doesn't seem to be the more common way of expressing it. Instead, you might see something like con aspecto parecido a insectos.


So you want to go on a space adventure, do ya? Well, first you will need a spaceship, stocked with un capitán and crew. Every explorador should travel with una doctora (in case of emergencies, which will be frequent) and un científico (to analyze all of your strange, new findings). Some like to travel with una émpata, as it helps to have someone who understands alien emotions during difficult diplomatic talks. They can prove more useful than los telépatas, as alien minds can be hard to read. La inteligencia artificial (IA) has become quite the powerful tool, and can help navigate through hyperspace while also making a delicious cup of hot cocoa. As you travel, you might run into various astronautas, perhaps clash with los piratas espaciales, or meet legendary, lightsaber-wielding jedi. There are also a variety of los extraterrestres, with races ranging from los con aspectos parecidos a insectos with six appendages to scaly, cold-blooded types reptilianos. You might meet a human clon or robotic androides, or perhaps through some mishap become robotic yourself, gaining a robotic arm or leg and turning into un cíborg.


Here is a list of important places that you might visit while traveling through space.

(Click on the arrows to see all of the slides, including the Spanish translations!)

*Somehow, I forgot to include planet. The Spanish word is un planeta.

**Wormhole can also be agujero espacio-temporal.


Space travel is both rewarding and life-threatening. On one hand, you get to explore el universo, discovering the intricate and strange beauty of various planetas and the intense glow of las estrellas. There is so much more to el espacio than our own galaxia, including our own sol and luna. While la tierra will always hold a special place in mankind's heart, no matter what exotic colonias man may settle in or strange puertos he might travel to. Truthfully, las habitaciones on la estación espacial can't compare to the blue skies and solid ground of Earth. On the other hand, there are exploding supernovas and deadly agujeros negros, from which no light can escape. Un agujero de gusano might help you quickly travel across the universe, but more often than not it is just a means of getting hopelessly lost. Or worse, of getting trapped in una dimensión alternativa. It is probably safer to just take the longer route and travel through el hiperespacio.


Lastly, here are some important items you'll need to know for your sci-fi journey!

(Click on the arrows to see all of the slides, including the Spanish translations!)

*You can also call a space ship una nave espacial **Hyperdrive can also be called un hiperpropulsor or hipermotor. Warp speed is also known as el desplazamiento por curvatura, empuje por curvatura, or curvatura, or even impulso de deformación or impulso de distorsión.

***Inter- is used in Intergalactic, Interstellar, and Interplanetary. Translations: Intergaláctico, Interestelar, and Interplanetario/a


Space, that exciting frontier! More wild than the Wild West, space is full of explorers searching for a place to create a society utópica, but often creating one distópica. It is now a time full of exciting advancements, such as blásters and phasers that never run out of bullets, or los sables de luz that can slice through almost anything. Los satélites, in their never-ending orbit around the Earth, are almost a thing of the past! If you have the right astronave, you can travel a una velocidad endiablada - a speed so fast, it makes your head spin! El hiperimpuslor is another means of traveling fast, using hyperspace. These technologies make travel interestelares, interplanetarios, and even intergalácticos a cinch! Be careful, though - the technology is still a little wonky, and there have been rumors of situations involving las paradojas del tiempo, with the past, present, and future all mixed up! Always perform a careful análisis of new and uncertain situations.

If you should prefer to travel at normal velocity, however, watch out for los cometas and asteroids. Perhaps you remember seeing un meteoro in the form of a shooting star; strange to think that it really is just parts of un cometa vaporizing in earth's atmosphere! All that aside, it may be prudent to leave your ship's campos de fuerza up for protection. You don't want to end up looking like the moon, after all, full of cráteres from space debris!

Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.

¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!


Quick Update!

This section includes an affiliate link to Amazon. What does that mean? I only recommend products this way that I have bought and used myself and that I found useful.

My English Resource Library is now ready for early viewing for all Spanish Answers readers and listeners! Here are a few examples of what is available:

  • Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing Grammar Girl is a fantastic resource whenever you have tricky English grammar questions! She is fantastic at breaking down these difficult questions and giving easy-to-understand (and remember) answers. This is the link to her blog, which will get you to her podcast as well.

  • The History of English Podcast by Kevin Stroud Ever wondered why English spelling and pronunciation is so weird? Look no further than this awesome podcast that delves into the language's history! It is a great podcast for language nerds (I love it!).

  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White [Affiliate Link] This book is my go-to reference in English writing! It is a bit academic, but it has a lot of good tips, explanations and clarifications regarding writing, grammar and composition. When I was writing proposals, this was always on my desk as a reference tool.


Cultural Tip: Mythical Creatures

Once again drawing from Brian Cohen's "The Most Famous Mythical Creature of Every Country in the World — Illustrated", here are 3 more mythical creatures from Spanish-speaking countries!


La Madre de Aguas - This is a giant, colorful snake that inhabits water. Wherever it lives, the lake or river never runs dry and is full of fish. While I have heard of one instance where it was claimed the Madre de Aguas could turn into a beautiful woman, in Cuba the creature is pretty much just a mythical snake. Generally speaking, this creature can live for hundreds of years and doesn't seem to be keen on attacking, although its enormous size, horns, and powerful scales make it a formidable enemy (apparently, it can swallow a calf whole).


El Picudo - A weird, blood-sucking creature, el Picudo has the body of a dog and the face of a pig, with a somewhat tapered snout. This animal sprays a sedative on its victims (both animal and human) in order to drain their blood without waking them while they sleep.

El Salvador

La Cuyancúa - also called Cuyancua or Cuyancuat, is a snakelike creature that has a head and torso similar to a pig. It also has two bear-like paws, with enormous claws. According to legend, its appearance represents the coming of floods or storms. The locals of Izalco lock their doors and stay inside until morning if they hear the animal's chilling cry. Should you meet the creature, you will faint and be unable to talk (temporarily). Supposedly, you can also drink pure, newly created water from sources created from the places where La Cuyancúa sleeps.



Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr

Cultural Tip Transition Music edited from song by JuliusH from Pixabay

Resource Links

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