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"You have to budget the number of fuzzy rules you use to control a system. It turns out, you can state the optimality principle in three words: 'patch the bumps.'"
- Bart Kosko

Propulsion Gun  
  What can you push against in space?  

This is a very early attempt by sf writers to give a realistic option to space explorers who were stuck in the void - what can you push against in space?

FOR awhile they floated, while Arnim got his bearings. Directly ahead, not over fifty yards away, lay the glittering ball of the Wanderer. Below spun a jagged fragment of rock, the tiny asteroid they had just quitted. Arnim chuckled grimly. He thought of Rutnom and the Martians marooned on that tiny desolation, helplessly watching the space ships drifting not more than five miles overhead.

Then he pulled out a little propulsion gun and, pointing it away from the Wanderer, pulled the trigger. He transformed himself into a very inefficient rocket-like projectile. Britt saw and wondered and did likewise.

From Venus Mines, Incorporated, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat).
Published by Wonder Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare with the Reaction Pistol from Gordon A. Giles 1937 story Diamond Planetoid, the Personal Jet Thrust from Robert Heinlein's 1948 novel Space Cadet and the very clever Electrical Tether from Garrett P. Serviss' 1898 story Edison's Conquest of Mars

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Venus Mines, Incorporated
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)
  Tech news articles related to Venus Mines, Incorporated
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)

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