12 September 2002
It was titled "The Lady Vanishes," and Charles Sheffield wasn't kidding. In this short story (which first appeared in Science Fiction Age, November 1996), one Dr Lois Doberman devises a computer-assisted bodysuit that took the input from light receptors on one side of her and fed it to an LCD array on the other side. If you happened to be looking at her, what you were actually seeing was whatever was behind her; so long as the computer didn't crash and the fiber optics weren't twisted into ineffectual shapes, Dr Doberman was effectively invisible.
This of course isn't the first example of a cloaking device in SF or fantasy, but it might be the first example of one that could conceivably exist, and Ray Alden, an inventor from North Carolina, has not only conceived of it but applied for a design patent. For those of us with a heftier-than-normal interest in the unseen, it's a sure-fire wish-list item.