Yoyodyne

V

Yoyodyne is a fictitious defense contractor introduced in Thomas Pynchon’s ‘V.’ (1963) and featured prominently in his novel ‘The Crying of Lot 49’ (1966). Described in the latter book as ‘a giant of the aerospace industry,’ Yoyodyne was founded by World War II veteran Clayton ‘Bloody’ Chiclitz. The company has a large manufacturing plant in the fictional town of San Narciso, California.

The name is reminiscent of several real high-tech companies, including Teledyne, Teradyne, which was founded a few years before Pynchon wrote ‘The Crying of Lot 49,’ and Rocketdyne, an aerospace company that manufactured, among other things, propulsion systems. The ‘dyne’ is the standard unit of force in the centimeter-gram-second system of units (largely obsolete but still widely recognized), derived from the Greek word dynamis meaning ‘power’ or ‘force.’

The 1984 film ‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’ used the name, as Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems, for a defense contractor whose corporate offices feature the sign, ‘Where the future begins tomorrow.’ Yoyodyne is a front for a group of red Lectroid aliens, all with the first name John, that landed in New Jersey in 1938, using the panic created by Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ radio play as cover. Numerous references in the ‘Star Trek series,’ such as control panels and dedication plaques, indicate that parts of Federation starships were manufactured by Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems or YPS. Often, these notices are too small to be visible on a television screen, or can only be observed by freeze-framing. The creators of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ were noted fans of Buckaroo Banzai and featured many references to the film in the series.

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