I remember reading this sometime late 80's early 90's. I'm almost certain it was a short story. I read it in English, in Ireland, but it was almost certainly an American author. It could have been written any time from the 50's to the 80's.

Two guys — some kind of engineers — are in one of their garages, drinking, one of them has an idea, and using parts he has lying around, creates an inertia-winder.

It creates a bubble of inertia-less space, but because the guys are well into their cups, they didn't limit the bubble and it keeps increasing in size, and they can't turn it off.

Havoc ensues as cars accelerate rapidly, brakes don't work, people launch themselves into the air as they stand up, lots of fun and frolics.

Eventually it's put on top of a rocket and basted off into space to, the world returns to normal.

The guys then figure out how to limit the effects and build predictable inertia-winders. They're tasked with going and finding the original and switching it off before it destroys the universe.

They create a spaceship out of an old car, with oxygen creating moss/lichen growing under the hood of the car which they can use for food. Just before they find the original inertia-winder the moss/lichen "evolves/wakes/mutates" and starts to attack them.

They find the original winder and find aliens playing in its bubble. The aliens love it and tell they guys they've stopped it expanding but they're keeping it as a play ground.

The aliens could have been mythical creatures.

The guys then return home.

  • 3
    you description of the plot sounds better than the text snippets in the answer.
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 19:47
  • why didn't they launch it towards the sun to destroy it?
    – Aequitas
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 0:29
  • 1
    @Aequitas: that's the kind of idea the engineer has at the beginning of a story like this, not the end.
    – Beta
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 2:21
  • 3
    @Aequitas: Destroying the sun is not a good thing. Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


Inertia by Rudy Rucker (full text in the link).

I let my arms and legs go limp. Gravity bounced me around on the floor for awhile. I lay there. Harry stood over me, looking worried. With a quick, savage blow, I knocked his legs out from under him. Gravity bounced him around for awhile. Then he was lying next to me.

I closed my eye, imagining a black sphere of inertialessness. The sphere grew and grew. Soon it included the whole Earth. Chaos. The sphere kept growing. After awhile it included the Moon. Without its inertia, the Moon would fall down. Without any heft fighting our gravity, we’d reel the Moon in like a poisoned catfish. Eventually…if anyone still cared…we’d both fall into the Sun.

The rocket:

“We need a rocket,” said Harry. “We have to get the inertia-winder on a rocket right away.”


“You’re going to help us,” I insisted. “The inertia-winder’s sphere of influence is growing. We are unable to stop it. Within twenty hours, it’s influence will reach to the Moon. With no centrifugal force of inertia, the Moon will fall down and smash our whole planet. The only solution is to send the inertia-winder away from our solar system.”

The aliens (also described as goblins):

“It’s all full of aliens,” Harry gasped. “The inertia-winder’s sphere of influence is full of aliens. Maybe we should leave, Fletcher. Maybe we should turn around before they get us. Hurry up and turn the ship around!”

  • 1
    Darn it. I spent too much time trying to track it down. :-D You beat me to it. Did you find it initially by searching for "inertia-winder" on Google Books?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 13:36
  • 2
    "inertia-winder" "short story" "bubble" was the combo that found it on a regular Google search.
    – smooshie
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 13:45
  • 9
    Searching for pulchritudinous callipygosity also finds it. Amazing when Google only has 3 hits, two referring to copies of the same document.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 16:20
  • 3
    @JDługosz - In an effort to answer the question "How the hell did they know to Google THAT?" I have now learned a new way to describe one of my favorite things.
    – Taegost
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 17:34
  • 4
    @WernerCD your grammar is awful :)
    – hobbs
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:44

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