Full record for torch n.

Definition =torch drive
OED requirements antedating 1950
Earliest cite R. Heinlein, 'Farmer in the Sky'
Comment Malcolm Farmer suggested Norman Spinrad's 1974 "Riding the Torch"; Mike Christie located a cite from a 1978 reprint.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1992 cite from Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep".
Malcolm Farmer located a cite from reprint of Robert Heinlein's "Sky Lift"; Derek Hepburn verified this in the 1953 original publication.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1973 cite from Joe Haldeman's "We Are Very Happy Here".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1996 reprint of Gregory Benford's 1979 "Dark Sanctuary".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1997 cite from Sarah Zettel's "Fool's War".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from an undated Ace books reprint of Robert A. Heinlein's 1956 "Time for the Stars".
The Tensor submitted a 1950 cite from Robert A. Heinlein's "Farmer in the Sky": we would be interested to know whether the term was used in this story's earlier serialization (under the title "Satellite Scout") in Boy's Life.
Last modified 10 June, 2009

Citations for torch n.

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1950 R.A. Heinlein Farmer in Sky 57 The Mayflower was shaped like a ball with a cone on one side—top shaped. The point of the cone was her jet—although Chief Engineer Ortega, who showed us around, called it her ‘torch’.
1953 R. A. Heinlein Sky Lift in Imagination Nov. 19/1 The idea that anyone but a torcher could work a torch ballistic did not sink in.
1953 R. A. Heinlein Sky Lift in Imagination Nov. 14/2 The conversion chamber of a torch was a tiny sun; particles expelled from it approached the speed of light.
1956 R. A. Heinlein Time for Stars vi. 60 From the air the Lewis and Clark looked like a basket-ball floating in water; you could not see that it was really shaped like a turnip. It floated with the torch down; the hemispherical upper part was all that showed.
1959 R. A. Heinlein Menace From Earth (1968) 121 The conversion chamber of a torch was a tiny sun; particles expelled from it approached the speed of light.
1959 R. A. Heinlein Menace From Earth (1968) 115 Gentlemen, it's a job for torch pilots. I must ask for volunteers.
1973 J. W. Haldeman in Analog Sci. Fiction/Sci. Fact Nov. 146/2 They transferred cargo to a spidery tachyon-torch shuttle, then zipped to the moon, setting down at Grimaldi base.
1974 N. Spinrad Riding Torch (1978) 189 The first scoutship is launched by the Trek. Crewed by five volunteers, it is powered by a full-sized fusion torch though its mass is only one-tenth that of a conventional torchship.
1979 G. Benford Dark Sanctuary in Matter's End (1994) 155 The Belt is huge, but the high-burn torch I'd turned loose back there was orders of magnitude more luminous than an ordinary fusion jet.
1979 G. Benford Dark Sanctuary in Matter's End (1994) 155 The Belt is huge, but the high-burn torch I'd turned loose back there was orders of magnitude more luminous than an ordinary fusion jet.
1987 O. S. Card Seventh Son (1988) v. 27 It was the chief use they had for torches, to have them look at an unborn baby just at the birthing time.
1989 P. Anderson Boat of Million Years (1990) 500 When it was safely away, robots went outside. Flitting around the hull, they deployed the latticework of ramscoop and fire chamber. By this time, low boost under torch drive had built up a considerable speed.
1989 W. J. Williams Angel Station (1991) 100 Ubu looked at the radar and transponder displays. No ships nearby, no one within range to be cooked by the particle torch. ‘Ten seconds to torch ignition. Mark.’
1997 S. Zettel Fool's War ii. 44 The Pasadena's flight clocks had to be in sync with each other as well as with the outside, but not just for timing torch bursts for sublight navigation. Navigation past light speed was impossible. To change direction, they would have to drop down to sublight, change the ship's flight angle and jump again.
1997 S. Zettel Fool's War ii. 48 The ship read her fingerprints and sent its signal down to the engine compartment. ‘Torch lit,’ she reported, just before a low rumble that echoed all the way up the drop shaft confirmed her call.
2000 M. Flynn Lodestar ix. 173 ‘No, it's easy,’ Chase said, laying his cup on the table and leaning forward. ‘I'll take the parasols with me when I torch for the Moon and drop them off along the way.’