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"You have to budget the number of fuzzy rules you use to control a system. It turns out, you can state the optimality principle in three words: 'patch the bumps.'"
- Bart Kosko

Neutral (Point)  
  The point at which the gravitational pull of the sun and that of a planet cancel each other out.  

In the novel, space craft do not have any means of propulsion other than selectively shielding against gravity. You don't want to get hung up on the neutral point!

The captain and most of the officers were there and appeared to be making simultaneous observations on some of the fixed stars. For an hour they worked, shifting the screens, taking observations, making computations. Then the captain spoke:

"Gentlemen, we are hung up on the neutral. But not one word of this anywhere in the boat but here on the bridge."

Winston understood and smiled grimly. Faulty calculations had routed the Trenton closer to the sun than the power of her sun screens warranted, and that great incandescent mass had seized her in a relentless grip and was holding her powerless and immovable against the pull of the planet, like a fly in a spider web, but so nicely balanced that the feeble strength of a little child against her big hulk would again put her in the friendly grasp of the planet.

From On The Martian Way, by Harry Gore Bishop.
Published by The Broadway Magazine in 1907
Additional resources -

Compare this idea to the discussion of weightlessness in Jules Verne's 1867 novel From te Earth to the Moon.

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  More Ideas and Technology from On The Martian Way
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