Handwavium Crystals on Mars, from the author's collection.
Handwavium is one of a myriad of miraculous substances, both naturally occurring and man-made, which inhabit the many realms of Victorian Science Fiction. And those scientific wonders are what make the weird science of the anachronistic setting possible. A partial listing of them, with sources:
- Liftwood (Space: 1889)
- Hydrium (Kenneth Opel's Airborn)
- Ghost rock (Deadlands / Great Rail Wars)
- Unobtainite / Unobtainium (misc. - I have my own version)
- Cavorite (H.G. Wells' First Men on the Moon)
- Bongolesian Oxyweed (mine)
In my VSF universe, handwavium is a green translucent crystal, and quite rare. It can be found in very small quantities on Earth, mainly in remote areas of Africa and South America, though a supply is rumored to be somewhere in Siberia as well. It is much more common - though still very rare - on Mars and Venus. When bathed in an acidic solution, it generates a great deal of heat without combustion, and therefore, no oxygen is used up in the reaction. It is used primarily to generate steam, in much the same manner as a modern nuclear reactor, without the nasty radioactive side effects. I call it 'handwavium' because that's what it does to the laws of physics as we understand them: "Physics? Pfffft!"