The most common usage for Sundog is a mock sun or parhelion.

I also find ongoing references to a Sundog as "A nomad, without strong group affiliation and the permanent residency it affords" in Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix and Brian Ball's Sundog.

It's not unheard of for authors to make up or re purpose words but I find it odd to see two or more identical usages.

Is there another source for this synonym that I have not found or is this just chance?

1 Answer 1


You are correct that the meaning of Sundog is

a bright spot on the parhelic circle; caused by diffraction by ice crystals

with synonyms as mock sun and parhelion.

The meaning and synonyms that you referred to in the Science Fiction works is probably a one-off thing. Possibly Ball brought it in first with his 1965 work SunBall and Bruce Sterling picked it up for his work Schismatrix.

However in the early 80s there was a science fiction video game on a similar theme Sun Dog: Frozen Legacy. Interestingly this came out before Sterling's novel.

But in all likelihood this was a term that Ball used in his pretty famous novel, and which just went on.

In fact Stephen King also brought in a novel with the title Four Past Midnight: The Sun Dog wherein the "Sun Dog" is simply a monster dog. :-)

  • This does not answer the question other than to say 'probably not'. Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 21:46

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