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"People ask me how I do research for my science fiction. The answer is, I never do any research. I just enjoy reading the stuff, and some of it sticks in my mind and fits into the stories."
- Frederik Pohl

Auto Shovel  
  Automated mining equipment for use in space.  

This was just a one sentence reference to this idea.

...being uncovered by the auto shovels operating in the near weightless void of mid space of the big planet moons...
From The Simulacra, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by 1964 in Ace
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