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"At its best, SF is the medium in which our miserable certainty that tomorrow will be different from today in ways we can't predict, can be transmuted to a sense of excitement and anticipation, occasionally evolving into awe."
- John Brunner

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.
Technovelgy 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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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Space Rover
  More Ideas and Technology by Edwin K. Sloat
  Tech news articles related to The Space Rover
  Tech news articles related to works by Edwin K. Sloat

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ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase

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'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

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'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

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'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

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