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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

Force-Field  
  A barrier to objects, created by projected forces.  

The notion of a force-field is widely used in science fiction; this is a very early reference.

Arcot had used the force field that produced the directed motions of the molecules as a weapon.
From Islands of Space, by John W. Campbell.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Here's another very early reference, from the same year, by 'Doc Smith writing in Space Hounds of IPC:

He first called Mars, the home planet of Alcantro and Fedanzo, the foremost force-field experts of three planets; and was assured in no uncertain terms that those rulers of rays were ready and anxious to follow wherever Brandon and Westfall might lead.

Compare to other early ideas about projecting force, like attractive ray from Edmond Hamilton's 1928 novel Crashing Suns or the super-photon ray from Campbell's 1932 story Invaders from the Infinite.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Islands of Space
  More Ideas and Technology by John W. Campbell
  Tech news articles related to Islands of Space
  Tech news articles related to works by John W. Campbell

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