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"[Science fiction is] anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out."
- Gregory Benford

Magsail  
  An interplanetary craft that uses magnetic fields to catch the solar winds for propulsion.  

"How fast will this thing go?" the rigger wondered.

"Depends on current density, orientation, and a bunch of other factors programmed into the RAM pins here." He flourished the goat-case, careful not to shake it. "If you're sailing large before the wind, your acceleration is about a thousandth of a gee."

"That don' sound so fast, friend."

Jimmy grinned, having said almost the same thing to Hobie last year. "Not compared to an SSTO main engine, right. Get a couple of gees squashing your bag during a lift, right? The sail gives a gentler push, but it keeps on pushing. You don't run out of fuel unless the sun goes out; in which case fuel is not your major concern. Bottom line is: a magsail can get you to Mars in about the same time it took the Mayflower to cross the Atlantic."

From Falling Stars, by Michael Flynn.
Published by Tor in 1998
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