Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Mimsy Were the Technocrats: As long as we keep talking about it, it’s technology.

The Fisher Space Pen

Jerry Stratton, November 10, 2015

Fisher Space Pen

The Fisher Space Pen: looks nice, writes great.

About a year ago, after running out of ink one too many times in bed1, I wondered if anyone had ever made a pen that worked upside down. A quick Internet search later, and I discovered the Fisher Space Pen. It immediately went on my Christmas list, and come Christmas morning I happily found the original Astronaut model under the tree.

This is the first quality pen I’ve owned, so I’m undoubtedly biased by that. Up to now, the best pen I’ve owned was a PaperMate that cost about three dollars and change. I generally enjoyed the feel of that PaperMate, and looked for it whenever I was in a store that carried pens, but it sports the same problems that all cheap pens seem to have: it runs out of ink long before it runs out of ink, making it an unreliable partner in writing.

The Space Pen doesn’t run out of ink until there’s no more ink to use. At least, I’m assuming that’s the case—the cartridges aren’t transparent. But the ink lasts for a long time. But because the ink lasts until it’s gone, it’s important to have a spare handy. Unlike most pens where the pen not working just means it’s clogged or blocked, allowing you to coax a few more days out of it, when no more ink comes out of the Space Pen, it’s because there is no more ink. The ink cartridges for the Space Pen are under pressure, ensuring that all of the ink is used.

Mind you, that experience comes from all of one time having to refill since Christmas. And I’ve been using the Space Pen exclusively for writing since then.

That feature also means that the Space Pen writes upside down as well as it writes normally. Lying down in bed and writing on a notepad held above my head no longer runs the risk of the ink draining the wrong direction and writing grinding to a halt. Holding a notebook against a convenient wall and writing also becomes reliable for more than a few words.

PaperMate pen, exploded

This cheap pen has a nice feel, but like most ballpoints its ink has an extremely variable lifespan. This one, believe it or not, has already failed. It writes in spurts for a few lines, and then goes dead.

And the combination of the ink and the pressure the ink is under means that the ink also works in subfreezing temperatures. I keep track of my car’s gas mileage by writing down the mileage on every gas receipt. Here in Texas that’s not usually a problem, but when I drive to Michigan or Chicago, it can be very difficult to write on a receipt that itself is held against a soft wallet, without tearing the receipt. The Space Pen doesn’t have that problem.

And in fact the Space Pen can write on just about any soft surface, not just paper held against wallets. It writes easily on balloons without popping them. It writes easily on paper held against my leather folio, something that usually ran the risk of popping through the paper and writing on the folio with other pens.

Since most of the benefits of the Space Pen come from the ink cartridges, you can get the ink without the pen. I keep a travel pen in my bag because I’m forgetful; the Space Pen’s refill fits fine in that pen. It should fit in any “Parker Style” pens. Fisher also makes a universal refill, which should fit in any pen that uses relatively standard cartridges

However, the pen itself is very nice; I’d recommend considering it. It’s a good solid weight, thin, and with a great feel as I write. I did have one problem with it; about two months ago, it stopped retracting. So I could still write with it, but I couldn’t retract the point to make it safe for my pocket. I sent the pen back, and in two weeks received a repaired pen along with an extra ink cartridge to make up for the trouble.

I am very grateful for this gift, and have been very happy with this pen. It’s great to have a reliable writing tool.

  1. This is not a euphemism. We often read and write before going to sleep.

  1. <- Scientific state evils
  2. Memespreading ->