Friday, January 30, 2009

The Web Between the Worlds - Charles Sheffield

A novel about the troubles of building a 'beanstalk' or space elevator, which is decent enough - involving the best talent at building large spanning structure around at the time. Skullduggery, murder and engineering.

the author points out that "I won't say I was pleased. Nervous is a better word. I had never met Arthur Clarke, but at Fred Durant's suggestion, not to say insistence, I took my completed manuscript and sent a copy to Clarke in Sri Lanka. I had no idea what to expect; what I certainly didn't expect was what came: first, a very friendly letter from Arthur Clarke, and, soon after, an open letter from him to the Science Fiction Writers of America, stating that coincidence, not plagiarism, lay behind the fact that two books were to be published in 1979 with strikingly similar themes. Not just the space elevator, but each book had as main character the world's leading bridge-builder; each one employed a device known as a Spider."

After the finish in the book Sheffield goes into some detail of the basics of the mechanics and mathematics and materials science of actually producing such a beast, which is rather interesting.

He points out building these is easier on other planets - Mars for one, pointing out that Kim Stanley Robinson wrote about such a happening. Which was ok, except it was destroyed and took out the town of Sheffield at its base.

A decent enough book - not as good as the Clarke though, but with some worthy non-fiction to go along with it.

3 out of 5

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