Synopses: Ship is being chased by 'bad guys', to escape they use a sling shot maneuver around a spinning black hole. As a consequence the black hole's event horizon expands (due to the rotational energy being used by the first ship) and destroys the second ship.

I thought it might be an Alistair Reynolds story and the humans were being chased by the Inhibitors, but I can't find it in any of the short story collections.

Ending has stuck with me for over a decade and would like to re-read.

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    Larry Nivens "Protector" has a somewhat similar scene, during which Brennan (the "Protector" in the title) destroys a pursuing ship during a slingshot maneuvre around a neutron star (I think). It's a bit different because (IIRC) he causes an eruption by adding mass to the object (by firing bullets into in), but is similar enough to at least check. Protector is a novel, but by todays standards a rather short one. Jan 19, 2020 at 15:31
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    @EikePierstorff Actually two novellas: "The Adults" (1967) and "Vandervecken".
    – Spencer
    Jan 19, 2020 at 16:21
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    See also Niven's story "Neutron Star". Jan 20, 2020 at 2:08
  • Not what you're referring to, but they pull the same trick in Stargate: Universe around a star, I think.
    – Mast
    Jan 20, 2020 at 10:16
  • There was an actual black hole slingshot in World Out of Time (also by Niven), but nothing weaponized about it.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 20, 2020 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


This happens in Stephen Baxter's short story Pilot, published in the anthology Vacuum Diagrams.

The ship is being pursued by a missile. They skim a black hole, just as you describe, and their passage changes the black hole rotation so that the horizon expands and engulfs the missile.

After the missile has been destroyed the pilot, Gage, describes what happened (Chiron is the name of the ship):

"We took so much spin from the black hole that we almost stopped it rotating altogether. It became a Schwarzschild hole. Without spin, its event horizon expanded, filling up the equatorial belt where the ergosphere had been."

Chiron had clipped the ergosphere safely. The missile, following Chiron's trajectory exactly, had fallen straight into the expanded event horizon.

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exultant_(novel) Is the story in this novel the same? He accidentally captures a Nightfighter with a slingshot around a black hole, but I suspect the part about the event horizon expanding was different.
    – JollyJoker
    Jan 20, 2020 at 9:27
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    Bah! "The missile, following Chiron's trajectory exactly" - what, they forgot about proportional pursuit trajectories in the future? Humbug! Jan 21, 2020 at 16:09

Stephen Donaldson's Gap Cycle series includes a black hole being triggered, with consequences for the ships around including one which is hunting the protagonists. This doesn't precisely match your description, but it's worth suggesting.

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