"It's hard to tell stories about critters that are not human. John W. Campbell tried it, in "Twilight," and everybody says it's a wonderful story, and nobody ever reads it twice."
This is a very early use of this phrase.
Compare to the inflatable air lock from Murray Leinster's 1953 novel Space Tug and to 'Doc' Smith's use of the more conventional air lock in his 1928 novel Skylark of Space. Also, see this variation on the force field idea, the pressure curtain from Niven and Pournelle's 1974 classic The Mote in God's Eye.
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