floater n.

a vehicle or device powered by antigravity; (specif.) an antigravity platform that flies relatively close to the ground


  • 1928 P. F. Nowlan Armageddon—2419 A.D. in Amazing Stories Aug. 427/2 page image Philip Francis Nowlan bibliography

    "Floaters" are a later development of "jumpers"—rocket motors encased in inertron blocks and strapped to the back in such a way that the wearer floats, when drifting, facing slightly downward. With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head-foremost, controlling his direction by twisting his body and by movements of his outstretched arms and hands. Ballast weights locked in the front of the belt adjust weight and lift. Some men prefer a few ounces of weight in floating, using a slight motor thrust to overcome this. Others prefer a buoyance balance of a few ounces. The inadvertent dropping of weight is not a serious matter. The rocket thrust always can be used to descend. But as an extra precaution, in case the motor should fail, for any reason, there are built into every belt a number of detachable sections, one or more of which can be discarded to balance off any loss in weight.

  • 1935 ‘D. A. Stuart’ The Machine in Astounding Stories Feb. 73/2 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    A dark shadow drifted slowly across the room, and they turned to see a five-passenger floater sinking slowly, gently, to Earth.

  • 1952 C. M. Kornbluth Make Mine Mars in Science Fiction Adventures Nov. 84/1 page image C. M. Kornbluth bibliography

    After a smooth landing I took an Eastbound chair from the field and whistled as the floater lifted me to the ISN floor.

  • 1953 A. Bester Time is the Traitor in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Sept. 120 page image Alfred Bester bibliography

    The floater that Frankie Alceste and Sima took from the spaceport was piloted by a Fisher aide who unlatched the cabin door and performed steep banks to tumble his fares out into the air. Alcester smashed the glass partition and hooked a meaty arm around the driver’s throat until he righted the floater and brought them safely to earth… On the road level they were picked up by one of a hundred cars which had been pacing the floater from below.

  • 1967 C. D. Simak Werewolf Principle (1968) 44 Clifford D. Simak bibliography

    Carefully Blake guided the chair-like floater to the ground at one end of the barrier, close to the clump of birch, snapped off the gravity field as it came to rest. For a moment he sat in the chair unmoving… Finally he got out of the floater and from its back unstrapped the hamper of lunch to get at his fishing tackle. He set the hamper to one side on the grassy bank from which the clump of birches grew.

  • 1973 G. Eklund Free City Blues in T. Carr Universe 3 155 Gordon Eklund bibliography

    The tall, stately towers near the floater terminal quickly gave way to smaller two- and three-story houses. [Ibid. 157] After turning twelve, she had never seen another human being in the flesh except for Grandfather until yesterday when she caught the floater.

  • 1979 N. Spinrad World Between 33 Norman Spinrad bibliography

    Carlotta turned on the float unit and the floater rose the standard one meter off the floor. She cranked on a little throttle and the floater moved forward. She turned to the right by leaning her body in that direction, and the floater zipped up around the curving ramp and out onto the street.

  • 1985 D. Hill Colsec Rebellion (1986) 41 Douglas Hill bibliography

    Cord then learned that a floater was a vehicle that hovered on a cushion of air, smaller and faster than the CeeDee hovertanks, but well-armed and armoured.

  • 1987 R. Reed Hormone Jungle (1989) 9 Robert Reed bibliography

    Half the sky is eclipsed by a tall stone building. A line of floaters cross the other half—saucer-shaped craft carrying their passengers from place to place.

  • 1992 V. Vinge Fire upon Deep (1993) 74 Vernor Vinge bibliography

    The blue sky just above the white-tops shaded quickly to indigo and black. Specks of silver moved up there, agrav floaters bringing starships into the Docks.

  • 1994 D. Kingsbury Heroic Myth Lieutenant Nora Argamentine in L. Niven et al. Man-Kzin Wars VI iii. 18 Donald Kingsbury bibliography

    The gravitic floater raced over grassways that blended into masking treescapes.

  • 1999 J. Dalmas Three-Cornered War 177 John Dalmas bibliography

    Then he dropped the floater to within a foot of the ground. Worrel and three corporals slapped their safety releases and piled out, two from one side of the floater, two from the other.

  • 2012 L. M. Bujold Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance xxiii. 373 page image Lois McMaster Bujold bibliography

    The medevac floater was little more than a glorified stretcher, designed to hold one patient lying down but, in a pinch, two sitting up, plus its operator in the control saddle.

Research requirements

antedating 1928

Earliest cite

Philip Francis Nowlan, Armageddon 2419 A.D.

Research History
Mike Christie located and Brian Ameringen confirmed a cite in a 1968 reprint of Clifford Simak's "The Werewolf Principle".
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a reprint of C. M. Kornbluth's "Make Mine Mars"; Mike Christie verified it in the 1952 magazine appearance.
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1993 reprint of Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of George R.R. Martin's "Manna From Heaven"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1985 first magazine appearance.
Douglas Winston submitted a 1999 cite from John Dalmas' "The Three-Cornered War".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of Alfred Bester's "Time is the Traitor"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1953 original magazine appearance.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1977 reprint of Gordon Eklund's 1974 "Free City Blues", in Universe 4.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1979 cite from Norman Spinrad's "A World Between".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1989 reprint of Robert Reed's 1987 "The Hormone Jungle".
Jesse Sheidlower submitted a 1935 cite from John W. Campbell, Jr. (writing as "Don A. Stuart") in Astounding.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2012 cite from Lois McMaster Bujold.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1928 cite from Philip Francis Nowland, in Amazing Stories

Last modified 2022-02-27 19:45:24
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.