The Fountains of Paradise Author:Arthur C. Clarke Vannemar Morgan's dream is to link Earth to the stars with the greatest engineering feat of all time-a 24,000-mile-high space elevator. But first he must solve a million technical, political, and economic problems...while allaying the wrath of God. For the only possible site on the planet for Morgan's Orbital Tower is the monastery atop ... more »the Sacred Mountain of Sri Kanda. And for 2,000 years, the monks have protected Sri Kanda from all mortal quests for glory. Kings and princes who have sought to conquer the Sacred Mountain have all died. Now Vannemar Morgan may be next....« less
This is a neat outline of the creation of the 'Space Elevator' a tower physically linking the planet to space, which will make inner solar system spaceships pretty much obsolete. Does anyone need to say that the spaceship industry is totally opposed to the idea? Also opposed are the monks whose order has lived on the proposed building site for millenia, and some of the monks are sure that God will OK any opposition to the Tower's construction, no matter who else or what else gets hurt. Clarke also skips back into history to show what happened to others who wanted to build on the site.
From back cover:
Sri Kanda, the Sacred Mountain was the holiest place in the ancient land of Taprobane. It was also the only possible site for the most daring feat of engineering in Man's history.
Vannemar Morgan's visionary dream would link Earth to the stars--if a million technical problems could be solved---if rival nations could be persuaded to cooperate--if the money could be found, and if the ages-old order of monks atop Sri Kanda would allow their sanctuary to be profaned forever...
2,000 years earlier, the mad King Kalidasa had fought the monks of Sri Kanda to create his own vision of glory---and paid with his life. Now Vannemar Morgan may perhaps share the same fate.