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

Ion Drive  
  A space drive that emits a stream of ions as reaction mass; it starts out slow but builds up to interstellar speeds.  

It has its own ion drive, a regular crew of six, and plenty of additional space for our party.
From Equalizer, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Astounding S-F in 1947
Additional resources -

I believe that the T.I.E. fighters from Star Wars also used a form of ion propulsion, but maybe a bit zippier. Also, compare to the sun-powered ionic motor from The Planet Strappers (1961), by Raymond Z. Gallun. The earliest use of this idea is Positive Ray Propulsion from The Prince of Space (1931) by Jack Williamson.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Equalizer
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Williamson
  Tech news articles related to Equalizer
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Williamson

Ion Drive-related news articles:
  - SMART-1's Ion Drive Not Science Fiction
  - UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records

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