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"Everything starts as somebody's daydream. And, when you're daydreaming, it is science fiction. It's when you start work out how you put it together, true science fiction becomes real science."
- Larry Niven

Gravitic Lift  
  An elevator with no visible means of support.  

"Where does the acrophobia come in?"
"Well, we can get there a lot faster if we use a gravitic lift. Not many people use it and I must tell you that I'm not overjoyed at the idea myself, but if you think you can handle it, we had better."
"What's a gravitic lift?"
"It's experimental. The time may come when it will be widespread over Trantor, provided it becomes psychologically acceptable--or can be made so to enough people. Then, maybe, it will spread to other worlds, too. It's an elevator shaft without an elevator cab, so to speak. We just step into empty space and drop slowly--or rise slowly--under the influence of antigravity. It's about the only application of antigravity that's been established so far, largely because it's the simplest possible application."
"What happens if the power blinks out while we're in transit?"
"Exactly what you would think. We fall and--unless we're quite near the bottom to begin with--we die. I haven't heard of it happening yet and, believe me, if it had happened I would know. We might not be able to give out the news for security reasons--that's the excuse they always advance for hiding bad news--but I would know. It's just up ahead. If you can't manage it, we won't do it, but the corridors are slow and tedious and many find them nauseating after a while."
... Seldon peered over the edge, down the deep shaft. "You might find it better--or easier," said Hummin, "if we link arms and if you close your eyes. It won't take more than a few seconds." He gave Seldon no choice, actually. He took his arm and once again there was no hanging back in that firm grip. Hummin stepped into nothingness and Seldon (who heard himself, to his own embarrassment, emit a small squeak) shuffled off with a lurch. He closed his eyes tightly and experienced no sense of falling, no feeling of air movement. A few seconds passed and he was pulled forward. He tripped slightly, caught his balance, and found himself on solid ground. He opened his eyes.
"Did we make it?" Hummin said dryly, "We're not dead," then walked away, his grip forcing Seldon to follow.
From Prelude to Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Doubleday in 1988
Additional resources -

Also, compare this to the space elevator from The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke (1974), the gravitic repulsion elevator from Asimov's Foundation (1951), the Beanstalk from Heinlein's Friday (1982), and the bounce tube from Robert Heinlein's Double Star (1956).

Thanks to Connor Lawrence for writing in with this item.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Prelude to Foundation
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