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"[Science fiction] is the only kind of writing that allows you to look at the world we live in and change one piece at a time."
- Frederik Pohl

Magnet Grapnel  
  Used to pull another vessel closer when boarding in space.  

If you don't have a tractor beam, this is a doable alternative.

The big battle sphere was drawing close alongside. Magnet grapnels shot across the narrow space between the two craft and gripped the side of the freighter, followed by the cable bridge along which the boarding party presently came wavering their way to the air-lock of the freighter.
From The Space Rover, by Edwin K. Sloat.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1932
Additional resources -

Compare to the MagnaPoon from Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Space Rover
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