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Solving a transport problem

In my new science fiction novel there is a team of scientists surveying a new planet for possible colonisation. How would they transport all their gear? From the beginning I decided on anti-gravity sleds.
Anti gravity sled

Anti gravity sled

I envisaged a simple platform that hovers a metre or so above the ground and so wasn’t affected by uneven terrain. It worked very well until they have to get up a cliff. How do you get an anti-gravity sled up a cliff? If it opposes gravity to a height of one metre it’s not going any higher. I talked to my husband about it, who doesn’t like science fiction but helps when he can, and he suggested a hoversled. Like modern hovercraft, instead of using mysterious graviton particles it would float on a cushion of air, and presumably float away from the cliff face.


So how do you haul it up the cliff? And what about all the gear it was carrying? Now it might be possible with lots of rope, the right equipment and plenty of time. The image comes to mind of when they port boats overland to avoid rapids. But these scientists don’t have time. They’re near the coast and there’s a tsunami coming. Maybe more than one.
Land Rover winch

Land Rover using winch

Then hubby suggested a winch built in, like on a Land Rover. Now I just need a way to secure the load and I’m sorted!
In research for this I discovered that hoversleds already exist, but I was disappointed. It turns out that a segway is also known as a hoverboard (which it isn’t, it has two wheels), and a contraption with a seat fits on a segway to make it a hoversled (which it isn’t, it now has three wheels).
Segway hoversled

Segway Hoversled

I did, however, find anti-gravity sleds and hoversleds in other science fiction, like Thunderbirds, Star Trek and Star Wars. Some of them were like snowmobiles or jetskis for riding on, but others were like my idea of a flat platform. Jabba the Hutt moved about on a hover platform because he was so huge.
Hoversled maker on Facebook

Hoversled maker on Facebook

I even found a Facebook account for a company or group in Minnesota building a hoversled for real, but they haven’t posted since April 2020. I’d love to find out if they succeeded.

Ann Marie Thomas authorAnn Marie Thomas is the author of five medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, Intruders, Alien Secrets & Crisis of Conscience are out now Follow her at