dropshaft n.

a liftshaft with no lift-cages, using controlled gravity to move people up and down at high speed

  • 1949 R. A. Heinlein Gulf in Astounding Science Fiction Nov. 74/2 page image Robert A. Heinlein bibliography

    The corridor ahead and a turn to the left should bring him to the quick-drop shaft.

  • 1954 C.E. Maine Troubleshooter in Nebula Science Fiction Feb. 31

    Funny thing—but that was the last and only memory that seemed to be present in his mind —the background of the college, the intensive training, the simulated free-fall flights in the drop-shaft, the tests and examinations.

  • 1955 P. Anderson Long Way Home in Astounding Science Fiction May 119/1 Poul Anderson bibliography

    Down a drop-shaft, falling like autumn leaves, Chanthavar testing each exit as he passed it.

  • 1957 H. Ellison Deeper Than Darkness in Infinity Science Fiction Apr. 21/1 Harlan Ellison

    The Pyrotic let the dropshaft lower him, and he found the lifescoot some time later.

  • 1957 R. Garrett Devil's World in Imaginative Tales July 84/2

    He caught the dropshaft and spun downward to the ground level. There, he entered the lock and donned a breathingsuit.

  • 1957 R. Garrett Devil's World in Imaginative Tales July 86/2

    The man quivered and collapsed. Courtney dumped him out of the dropshaft and set the dial for the twenty-third level.

  • 1958 R. Silverberg in Original Science Fiction Stories Jan. 6/1 Robert Silverberg

    Even had the strangers come that night, if they had left their ship in a parking orbit and landed on World by dropshaft, it might not have happened.

  • 1962 P. Anderson Day After Doomsday in Galaxy Mag. Feb. viii. 132/1 Poul Anderson bibliography

    They went down a dropshaft to a tunnel.

  • 1976 P. Anderson Star Plunderer in B. W. Aldiss Galactic Empires Volume One 60 Poul Anderson bibliography

    Beyond the desk, a Gorzuni played a hose on us, washing off blood and grime, and then we were herded down the long corridors and by way of wooden ladders (the drop-shafts and elevators weren’t working it seemed) to the cells.

  • 1986 C. Sheffield Nimrod Hunt iv. 45 Charles Sheffield

    It was a race along confused networks of high-speed slideways, a plunge along the vertiginous corkscrews of spiral staircases, and finally a series of long dives through the black depths of vertical drop-shafts.

  • 1987 C. Claremont FirstFlight iv. 54 Chris Claremont

    She looked up the DropShaft at the CM hatch twenty-five meters away, then down between her feet at the Stores Modules, slightly closer; the Carousels spun around her but in the core all was still and she stretched lazily, as if she was already on her bed.

  • 1988 K. Tyers Fusion Fire xx. 217

    He broke into a run again, leading up the passway toward the drop shaft.

  • 1989 G. W. Proctor Stellar Fist x. 71

    Containing her mounting rage, Arianne Pillan stepped into a dropshaft and gently descended to the lobby of the Diplomatic Services headquarters.

  • 1997 S. Zettel Fool’s War ii. 48

    The ship read her fingerprints and sent its signal down to the engine compartment. ‘Torch lit,’ she reported, just before a low rumble that echoed all the way up the drop shaft confirmed her call.

  • 2010 I. M. Banks Surface Detail 32 Iain M. Banks bibliography

    They were struggling to comprehend what was happening to their world. Its end, Yime Nsokyi thought as she’d careened down a drop shaft from the traveltube interchange she’d been in as the attack began.


Research requirements

antedating 1949

Earliest cite

Robert Heinlein, in Astounding

Research History
Ralf Brown located and Mike Christie submitted a 1958 cite from Robert Silverberg's "Prime Commandment".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1989 cite from Geo. W. Proctor's "Stellar Fist".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1986 cite for the form "drop-shaft" from Charles Shefield's "The Nimrod Hunt".
Douglas Winston submited a cite from a 1970 reprint of Poul Anderson's "After Doomsday"; Malcolm Farmer verified it in the 1962 magazine publication.
Douglas Winston submitted a 1998 cite for the form "drop shaft" from Kathy Tyers' "Fusion Fire".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1987 cite from Chris Claremont's "First Flight"
Douglas Winston submitted a 1997 cite from Sarah Zettel's "Fool's War".
Fred Galvin submitted a July 1957 cite from Randall Garrett's "Devil's World"
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1976 reprint of Poul Anderson's "The Star Plunderer": we would like to verify this in its original publication (Planet Stories, September 1952)
Fred Galvin submitted an April 1957 cite from Harlan Ellison's "Deeper Than the Darkness"
Bill Mullins submitted a 1949 cite from Robert Heinlein's "Gulf", in Astounding, and several other early-1950s examples.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2010 cite from Iain M. Banks.

Last modified 2021-02-03 01:32:14
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.