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"I've come across more and more people who've actually tried reading science fiction and can't make it make sense."
- Samuel R. Delany

Dropshaft  
  An elevator shaft with no elevator - the "lift" is from gravity or suppressed inertia.  

As far as I know, the first use of this term, although the idea had been sketched out earlier (see below).

The Pyrotic let the dropshaft lower him, and he found the lifescoot some time later.
From Deeper Than the Darkness, by Harlan Ellison.
Published by Infinity Science Fiction in 1957
Additional resources -

See the entry for drop shaft from Galactic Patrol (1937) by Doc Smith. Smith has all the words, but doesn't create the phrase.

Compare to bounce tube from Robert Heinlein's 1956 juvenile Double Star.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Deeper Than the Darkness
  More Ideas and Technology by Harlan Ellison
  Tech news articles related to Deeper Than the Darkness
  Tech news articles related to works by Harlan Ellison

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