spindizzy n.

in James Blish’s City in Flight series: a faster-than-light antigravity drive powered by a field that alters the magnetic rotation of atoms

The spindizzy was formally known as the Dillon-Wagoner gravitron polarity generator. It grew more efficient as the mass being lifted increased, and was thus used to propel entire cites or planets at faster-than-light speeds.

SF Encyclopedia



  • 1950 J. Blish Okie in Astounding Science Fiction Apr. 71/2 page image James Blish bibliography

    The waste inherent in using the spindizzy only in a ship could not be disguised. Once antigravity was an engineering reality, it was no longer necessary to design ships specifically for space travel, for neither weight nor aerodynamic lines meant anything any more.

  • 1950 J. Blish Bindlestiff in Astounding Science Fiction Dec. 9/1 page image James Blish bibliography

    There was no longer any reason why a man-carrying vehicle to cross space needed to be small, cramped, organized fore-and-aft, penurious of weight. The spindizzy could lift anything, and protect it, too.

  • 1952 J. Blish Bridge in Astounding Science Fiction Feb. 80/2 page image James Blish bibliography

    I won’t bother to trace the succeeding steps, because I think you can work them out for yourself. It’s enough to say that there’s a drive-generator on board this ship which is the complete and final justification of all the hell you people on the Bridge gang have been put through. The gadget has a long technical name, but the technies who tend it have already nicknamed it the spindizzy, because of what it does to the magnetic moment of any atom—any atom—within its field. While it’s in operation, it absolutely refuses to notice any atom outside its own influence. Furthermore, it will notice no other strain or influence which holds good beyond the borders of that field. It’s so snooty that it has to be stopped down to almost nothing when it’s brought close to a planet, or it won't let you land. But in deep space….well, it’s impervious to meteors and such trash, of course; it’s impervious to gravity; and—”it hasn’t the faintest interest in any legislation about top speed limits.

  • 1962 J. F. Bone Lani People (2019) xiii. 130 J. F. Bone bibliography

    Kennon’s thoughts about Alexander’s spindizzy design. A hyperspace converter like that couldn’t be less than four millennia old.

  • 1966 J. Blish Hero’s Life in Impulse Mar. 79/3 page image James Blish bibliography

    And then she made a noise like a spindizzy going sour.

  • 1972 ‘L. del Rey’ Hand at Issue in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Apr. 73 page image Lester del Rey bibliography

    He’d still used his ‘spindizzy’ field as a mere means, of course, though to a greater end. But the readers were happy. Not he. He had to go back and write a story of the great engineering study of Jupiter’s gravity that led to the spindizzy.

  • 2007 K. MacLeod Execution Channel 107 Ken MacLeod bibliography

    There are rumors about secret work on the Heim drive, HTS, the spindizzy as some call it—after a science fiction story—all over the net.

Research requirements

antedating 1950

Earliest cite

James Blish, "Okie"

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1952 cite from James Blish's "The Bridge".

Originally retired from SF page 2/5/03; reinstated by Jesse Sheidlower January 2021.

Last modified 2021-03-18 13:28:50
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.