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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Central Guide-Beam  
  A kind of signal that demonstrates the best possible path to a destination in space and even provides motive power.  

I don't think that this is the earliest use of this idea, but it's still worth looking at.

"Well," he said, "you saw for yourselves this was a hospital ship. It carried no crew. It was directed from a central guide-beam at Jupiter. The beam carried it from the Sol System here, where, because of a mechanical error, a meteor penetrated the protection screen and the ship crashed."
From Shell Game, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Galaxy Science Fiction in 1954
Additional resources -

This is an interesting idea. For one thing, there really aren't any straight lines in space, at least for material objects going through the solar system; gravity fields and the constantly changing locations of the planets make direct "beams" difficult.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Shell Game
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