"It was my preferred entertainment when I was a kid, so when I set out to be a writer, it was perfectly natural that I should write the sort of stories that I used to enjoy reading."
The idea of a pushpot is really cool; instead of having a few enormous rocket engines, use a lot of small boosters.
The idea of a pushpot derives from the "jato" units described in the quote. Jet-assisted take-off (JATO) units are basically solid-fuel rockets that can be strapped or bolted onto a plane to give it extra boost for take-off. I don't know how long they've been around, but they certainly antedated this novel.
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