This was a pair of short stories (published in Analog, maybe late '80s?) set in a near future where man has spread out over the solar system. As for characters, there was a shuttle pilot (female?), and the prototypical absent-minded scientist (male, Scots name).

It opens with a discussion of why a high-gee spacecraft drive is not practical because of the effects on the crew/passengers. Said absent-minded scientist promptly goes out and invents one by positing that you could push a large disk of collapsed matter at high-gee, and move a crew capsule closer to it and farther away from it to balance the thrust, leaving the crew at 1 gee. Various implausible things happen when this system malfunctions while the capsule is snugged up against the disk, meaning you can't turn the drive off.

I actually had the magazine for the longest time, but can't find it now. The first story was the cover story on issue it appeared in, and said spacecraft was pictured on the cover, looking like a disk with a spike sticking out of it.

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I think the story you're recalling is Charles Sheffield's "Moment of Inertia," first published in the October 1980 issue of Analog.

The plot of the story arises when the elevator mechanism that moves the crew capsule along the shaft breaks, stranding the crew at the +49g level. To balance that they dive into the gravity field of a collapsar so that they can turn off the drive (and stop accelerating) without crushing them.

Another ship manages to match orbits with them and rescue them.

The cover of the October 1980 issue of Analog does indeed depict the ship:

Cover of October 1980 issue of "Analog"

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    Yes! That's it. Now that I know what the first one was, the second story Analog published was "The Manna Hunt", September 1982, and it was again the cover story. Jan 29, 2021 at 4:09
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    There are apparently nine stories in the McAndrew Chronicles with this character. Jan 29, 2021 at 16:14
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    @RossPresser Not to mention an anthology collecting all of them, though I only have the earlier collection of the first five.
    – DavidW
    Jan 29, 2021 at 16:21
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    I was able to order 'The Complete McAndrew' from Amazon. Looking forward to it! Jan 29, 2021 at 16:34
  • Came back to say that I received the book and the other stories I hadn't read were excellent. There is also a further story not in The Compleat McAndrew that can be read here. Feb 14, 2021 at 1:00

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