Belter n.

a native or resident of an asteroid belt n.

The 1948 Theodore Sturgeon story There Is No Defense (Astounding Science Fiction, February) features a protagonist named Belter, but there is no clear connection between this character and an asteroid belt, and no other characters have names reflecting a geographic origin, so this would seem to be a coincidence.


  • 1965 L. Niven World of Ptavvs in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 56/1 page image Larry Niven bibliography

    They’ll be armed for us, and a weapon is a weapon…. Belters, they’re always waiting for the first ET. They’ll be armed for bear.

  • 1966 L. Niven Warriors in Worlds of If Science Fiction Feb. 152/2 page image Larry Niven bibliography

    You noticed a habit of mine once. I never make gestures. All Belters have that trait. It’s because on a small mining ship you could hit something waving your arms around.

  • 1966 L. Niven Bordered in Black in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Apr. 127/1 page image Larry Niven bibliography

    When a Belter stops being neat it’s like suicide.

  • 1966 L. Niven in Galaxy Magazine Dec. 100/1 Larry Niven

    Those hotels, and the scattered hotels in the other bubbleworld, served every Belter’s occasional need for an Earthlike environment.

  • 1969 W. Richmond & L. Richmond Phoenix Ship 34 Leigh Richmond Walt Richmond bibliography

    The Belt, he thought. I'm going to be a Belter now.

  • 1974 J. Pournelle in Galaxy Science Fiction May 105/2 Jerry Pournelle

    Belters are asteroid miners—they flit from asteroid to asteroid, slicing them up for the mineral wealth they presumably contain.

  • 1974 J. Pournelle in Galaxy Science Fiction May 106/1 Jerry Pournelle

    One supposes there’s a local source of both energy and fuel in the Belt, of course, or there couldn’t be a Belter Civilization to begin with.

  • 1979 G. Benford Dark Sanctuary in Omni May 105/2 page image Gregory Benford bibliography

    Belters aren’t scientists. They’re gamblers, idealists, thieves, crazies, malcontents. Most of us are from the cylinder worlds orbiting Earth.

  • 1987 R. Reed Hormone Jungle (1989) 7 Robert Reed bibliography

    And there is the multitude of Belter worlds, each unique.

  • 1991 ‘C. J. Cherryh’ Heavy Time 1 C. J. Cherryh bibliography

    Nervous man, Ben Pollard. Twenty-four and hungry, a Belter kid only two years out of ASTEX Institute.

  • 1993 G. Bear Moving Mars 386 Greg Bear bibliography

    Cameron gave me an eager, anxious look, backed away, spun around with the expert grace of a belter, and took a tunnel leading to the surface.

  • 2019 ‘J. S. A. Corey’ Tiamat’s Wrath 75 Daniel Abraham Ty Franck bibliography

    The Belters were old-school OPA [sc. Outer Planets Alliance], grizzled veterans of the endless insurgent war with the inner planets before Laconia came and made that irrelevant.

Research requirements

antedating 1965

Earliest cite

Larry Niven, 'World of Ptavvs'

Research History
Larry Niven has indicated that he invented this term.

Mike Christie submitted a 1967 cite from Larry Niven's "Flatlander".
David Siegel submitted a 1969 cite from Walt & Leigh Richmond's "Phoenix Ship".
Mike Stone identified a cite in Larry Niven's "The Warriors", and Mike Christie located the cite in the 1966 first magazine appearance.
Winchell Chung Jr. submitted a 1974 cite from an article by Jerry Pournelle in Galaxy.
Edward Bornstein submitted a 1991 cite from C.J. Cherryh's "Heavy Time".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1989 reprint of Robert Reed's 1987 "The Hormone Jungle".
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a later edition Larry Niven's "World of Ptavvs"; Jesse Sheidlower verified it in the original appearance in Worlds of Tomorrow in 1965.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1996 reprint of Gregory Benford's 1979 "Dark Sanctuary"; Jesse Sheidlower verified it in the original appearance in the May 1979 Omni.
Bill Mullins submitted an April 1966 cite from Larry Niven's "Bordered in Black," in Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2019 cite from "James S. A. Corey", in the Expanse series.
Scott Drellishak submitted a 1965 cite from Larry Niven's World of Ptavvs.

Last modified 2023-01-04 19:34:07
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.