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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Flitterboat  
  A one-man cargo space craft.  

Just the thing for flitting about the Belt.

The point is that Viking is trying to build a ship that will be as easy to operate as a flitterboat—a one-man cargo vessel...

I gave the flitterboat all the push it would take to get us to Ceres as fast as possible. I don't like riding in the things. You sit there inside a transite hull, which has two bucket seats inside it, fore and aft, astraddle the drive tube, and you guide from one beacon to the next while you keep tabs on orbital positions by radio. It's a long jump from one rock to the next, even in the asteroid belt, and you have to live inside your vac suit until you come to a stopping place where you can spend an hour or so resting before you go on. It's like driving cross-continent in an automobile, except that the signposts and landmarks are constantly shifting position. An inexperienced man can get lost easily in the Belt.

I was happy to find that Jack Ravenhurst knew how to handle a flitterboat and could sight navigate by the stars. That meant that I could sleep while she piloted and vice-versa. The trip back was a lot easier and faster than the trip out had been.

I was glad, in a way, that Ceres was within flitterboat range of Raven's Rest. I don't like the time wasted in waiting for a regular spaceship, which you have to do when your target is a quarter of the way around the Belt from you. The cross-system jumps don't take long, but getting to a ship takes time.

The Ravenhurst girl wasn't much of a talker while we were en route. A little general chitchat once in awhile, then she'd clam up to do a little mental orbit figuring. I didn't mind. I was in no mood to pump her just yet, and I was usually figuring orbits myself. You get in the habit after a while.

When the Ceres beacon came into view, I was snoozing. Jack reached forward and shook my shoulder."

Decelerating toward Ceres," she said. "Want to take over from here on?" Her voice sounded tinny andtired in the earphones of my fishbowl."O.K.; I'll take her in..."

From A Ship Named McGuire, by Gordon Randall Garrett.
Published by Analog in 1961
Additional resources -

Compare to the joy-boat junior from Methuselah's Children (1941) by Robert Heinlein, the space boat from Revolt of the Star Men (1932) by Raymond Z. Gallun and the broomstick speedster from Waldo (1942) by Robert Heinlein.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Ship Named McGuire
  More Ideas and Technology by Gordon Randall Garrett
  Tech news articles related to A Ship Named McGuire
  Tech news articles related to works by Gordon Randall Garrett

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