A science fiction novel first published in 1979.
Nikola Tesla has been called the man who invented the 20th century. I'm hoping that Clarke will be remembered as the man who invented the 21st. As I type this there is a TV in the room, connected to a box, in turn connected to a dish on the roof, that is pointed to a satellite over 42,000 km away in what is called a Clarke Orbit, after the astronomer who realized it would be a useful place for a communications satellite to be, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
So what does that have to do with this novel? In this book Clarke talks about a bridge, a tether that connects the ground to Clarke orbit. A vertical railroad, allowing for a more economical method for reaching Earth-orbit than riding on a Space Shuttle with the power of sixty-five locomotives.
As in real life, the political problems far outweigh the technical ones, and those who say that Clarke is weak in characterization have not read the same book I did.
Do the math, we can build a tether, we should build it. The only thing wrong with this book is that it hasn't happened, yet.
It's heady stuff, and I thoroughly enjoyed Clarke's play with this concept. And along the way, he manages to describe the "office of the future" (much of which has already occurred in the 22 years since the book was released), the flooding of the Sahara, the damming of the Bering Sea, the bridging of the Straits of Gibraltar, and other massive engineering projects. Oh yes, and Clarke also throws in a lesson or two about Buddhism, contact with an alien space probe, weather satellites, the aurora borealis, the history of a monument in his native Sri Lanka, and half a dozen other historical engineering developments. Clarke's work here is about PROGRESS, writ large. This is still one of my favorite books. Perhaps that is because of Morgan, the only well-developed character in the whole story. He is one of those characters whom the real world does not have enough of: the truly visionary engineer. At any rate, Clarke manages to show a future in which man-made machines are awe-inspiring but not detrimental or overpowering to mankind.
I'd like to live in this world.