dropshaft n.

a vertical shaft that uses artificial gravity to move free-floating passengers or freight

  • [1937 E. E. Smith Galactic Patrol in Astounding Stories Sept. 9/1 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    The little column marched down the hall. In their path yawned the shaft—a vertical pit some twenty feet square extending from main floor to roof of the Hall; more than a thousand sheer feet of unobstructed air, cleared now of all traffic by flaring red lights. Five left heels clicked sharply, simultaneously upon the lip of the stupendous abyss. Five right legs swept out into emptiness. Five right hands snapped to belts and five bodies, rigidly erect, arrowed downward at such an appalling velocity that to unpracticed vision they simply vanished. Six tenths of a second later, precisely upon the beat of the stirring march, those ten heels struck the main floor of Wentworth Hall, but not with a click. Dropping with a velocity of almost two thousand feet per second though they were at the instant of impact, yet those five husky bodies came from full speed to an instantaneous, shockless, effortless halt at contact. The drop had been made under complete neutralization of inertia—‘free’, in space parlance. Inertia restored, the march was resumed.]

  • [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.]

  • 1952 P. Anderson Star Plunderer in Planet Stories Sept. 58 page image Poul Anderson bibliography

    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.

  • 1954 C. E. Maine Troubleshooter in Nebula Science Fiction (#7) Feb. 31 page image Charles Eric Maine bibliography

    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.

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

    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 page image Randall Garrett

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

  • 1970 B. Shaw One Million Tomorrows in Amazing Stories Nov. 30/2 page image Bob Shaw bibliography

    An hour later he was riding the dropshaft down to ground level.

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

    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 First Flight iv. 54 Chris Claremont bibliography

    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.

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

    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 Sarah Zettel bibliography

    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 1952

Earliest cite

Poul Anderson, in Planet Stories

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"; he subsequently verified it in the original publication in 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, in the form "quick-drop shaft", and several other early-1950s examples.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2010 cite from Iain M. Banks.

Last modified 2022-02-24 13:02:29
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.