Eight Fictional Inventions I Wish Were Real, But Only Because I Am Lazy

Posted by Blair Thornburgh

(image via MiraiSadame)

You know what’s the actual worst? Doing things. Making effort. Seeing an action through from beginning to…whatever.

But people in books have it so easy! They have all kinds of magical, mechanical, or otherwise fantastical gadgets to save them time and precious, precious seconds of exertion. They never get suckered into ponying up for Slap-Chops and E-Z-T-V trays because they have stuff that's actually useful. Here are eight things I wish I could use in my daily, lazy life.

A Quick Quotes Quill from Harry Potter

Say what you will about magical muckracker Rita Skeeter—girl can write a humdinger of news story. And she barely has to lift a finger! If I had one of these enchanted pens I’d easily triple my wordcount output. Sure, my editorial letters would probably come out nasty and passive-aggressive, but that’s what we in the business call “tough love.”

(Also, for those of you who would’ve picked the Time Turner: what is wrong with you?! You want a magical doodad that’ll allow you to do more work? We’re here to indulge indolence, not increase effort. Look at your life, look at your choices.)


(image via Bryton Taylor)

The Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Don’t get me wrong: gluttony is my favorite deadly sin (right after sloth, obviously) but sometimes actually getting up and preparing a foodstuff is a fridge too far. Being able to pop a stick of gum while I loll about on the couch type vigorously at my desk would shave whole minutes off of my busy professional lifestyle.


Self-drying clothes, from Back to the Future, Part II

Not that I plan to fall into a pond like Marty McFly does, but it’d be pretty convenient to just slap on a fresh-from-the-washing-machine jacket and stroll out the door drip-free. Bonus points if it looks like a life preserver! 


A Babel Fish, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Not to brag, but I can order a hamburger in two and a half languages (the half is for Old English, because there isn’t technically a word for hamburger but I could probably get my point across regardless). Still, having this helpful polyglot ichthyoid in my inner ear would make it significantly easier to do lots of lazy-day “activities:” I could watch my favorite K-dramas without subtitles! I could…watch my favorite anime, without subtitles!


An Aletheiometer, from Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights series

Hear that, girls from my seventh-grade class? Your sleepover parties might have Ouija boards, but mine have a genuine, functional truth-telling watch-a-ma-bob.

Yes, I know this Golden Compass is supposed to be for saving all of creation, but I could’ve saved myself eons of pruning and primping and posturing at the popular kids if I’d been able to provide honest, Dust-powered answers to burning questions like “OMG does Ben F. like me like me?” And if not, I guess I could use the subtle knife to escape to a different dimension or something.


A Neuralyzer, from the Men in Black series

If I had one of these memory-blotting flashbulbs-on-a-stick, I would never have to do things right on the first try ever again. A procrastinator’s dream.


Dreamy Sleepy Nighty Snoozy Snooze, from “Father Ted”

Kids: drugs are bad. Just because you see your favorite trio of cantankerously wacky Irish priests do something on TV does not mean you should do it, too. However, as a champion insomniac, I would make a pilgrimage all the way to the misty shores of Craggy Island just for a quaff of this “alcoholic chocolate sleeping aid,” which is, according to the fifth episode in the sitcom’s fifth season, “banned in most European countries, so you know it’s good.”


A cryptex, from the extended Dan Browniverse

Internet security sure is a pain in the behind, which is probably why up until recently, I've been using the same password for everything that I've had since age 12 ("mrslegolasgreenleaf1234," in case you're curious). Keeping all my secure data in one of these un-un-lockable puzzle tubes would mean that one false spin of the letter wheels and my would-be identity thieves would have nothing but an empty, vinegar-soaked piece of paper. And no pesky cancellation calls for me to make to my credit card companies! Bless you, Dan Brown, you irascible genius, you.

Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh

BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.