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"[Science fiction] is the only kind of writing that allows you to look at the world we live in and change one piece at a time."
- Frederik Pohl

Inertia Screen  
  A device that canceled out the law of inertia to help decelerating space craft occupants.  

This is a very handy thing to have, when you are slowing down from interstellar speeds.

Six days out from Earth found the Little Falls decelerating as it approached Rigel VI, its crew of ten protected from instant annihilation by the inertia screens, screens that permit humans to survive accelerations so stupendous that the stars were brought within easy reach of the Solar System.
From Space Rating, by John Berryman.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1939
Additional resources -

I believe that ol' 'Doc' Smith thought about canceling inertia in a somewhat different context several years earlier; see the entry for drop shafts.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Space Rating
  More Ideas and Technology by John Berryman
  Tech news articles related to Space Rating
  Tech news articles related to works by John Berryman

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