Okay, first go read this. It's an article from New Scientist which begins, "Future spacecraft may surf the magnetic fields of Earth and other planets, taking previously unfeasible routes around the solar system, according to a proposal funded by NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts. The electrically charged craft would not need rockets or propellant of any kind."
Now go read this. It's a book by Adam Roberts, of which Starburst says, "the magnetic boost technologies he uses to put planes into orbit has the smack of an SF trope that’ll become a universal cliché in a few years."
Or just a reality.
Update: Technovelgy has picked up on the story. Although the post mentions not having heard back from Adam, we are putting them in touch.