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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Centipede-Machine  
  Multi-legged transport.  

As he spoke, the Martian official before them had uttered a hissing call, and in answer to it a long shape of shining metal raced into the vast hall and halted beside them. It was like a fifty-foot centipede of metal, its scores of supporting short legs actuated by some mechanism inside the cylindrical body. There was a transparent-walled control room at the front end of that body, and in it a Martian at the controls who snapped open a door from which a metal ladder automatically descended.

The Martian official gestured with a reptilian arm toward the ladder, and Milton and Lanier and Randall moved carefully out of the cube-chamber and across the floor to it, each of their steps being made a short leap forward by the lesser gravity of the smaller planet. They climbed up into the centipede-machine's control room, their guide following, and then as the door snapped shut, the operator of the thing pulled and turned the knob in his grasp and the long machine scuttled forward with amazing smoothness and speed.


(Monsters from Mars: Centipede Machine)

In a moment it was out of the building and into the feeble sunlight of a broad metal-paved street. About them lay a Martian city, seen by their eager eyes for the first time. It was a city whose structures were giant metal cones like that from which they had just come, though none seemed as large as that titanic one. Throngs of the hideous crocodilian Martians were moving busily to and fro in the streets, while among them there scuttled and flashed numbers of the centipede-machines.

From Monsters of Mars, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare to the ships with legs from Buck Rogers: 2430 AD (1929) by Nowlan and Calkin, the robass from The Quest for Saint Aquin (1951) by Anthony Boucher, the centipede from Killing Titan (2015) by Greg Bear and the walking fort from The Killing Machine (1964) by Jack Vance.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Monsters of Mars
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to Monsters of Mars
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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