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The Web Between The Worlds by Charles…

The Web Between The Worlds (1979)

by Charles Sheffield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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335649,734 (3.5)3
  1. 83
    The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke (lorax)
    lorax: The two classic space elevator novels, written nearly simultaneously. Clarke's is a better book, but they're both good engineering SF, and if you like space elevators you definitely should read them both.

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This hard-science fiction takes a look at a premise that's been around for decades -- the notion of a "sky hook" (here called "the beanstalk") that could lift cargo and passengers to gravity-free launch points in near-Earth orbits.

The technology is fascinating and explained well enough to almost be comprehensible to a non-scientist, but Sheffield falls down (you should excuse the pun) on the fictional side of the equation. He pads the tech effort with a mystery subplot and a sort-of-but-not-quite love-ish story. Most of the big reveals are no surprise to the observant reader; there are some elements that simply don't make a lot of sense, and there are a couple of plot elements that are ... well, they're just left hanging there. Kind of like the beanstalk. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Dec 14, 2018 |
As Charles Fort might have said, “It’s space elevator time when it’s space elevator time.” And 1979 was space elevator time in science fiction. Besides this novel, Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise was published that year. Clarke’s introduction to this novel makes it clear Sheffield came up with the idea independently.

There’s plenty of what science fiction critic John J. Pierce called “industrial science fiction” here. It includes not only our hero Rob Merlyn, an engineer who specializes in building massive bridges on Earth, discusseing the project with his client Darius Regula, the Rocket King of the solar system, but a whole chapter describing the tethering of the space elevator.

But, since this is Sheffield, there’s a whole other story going on besides building that elevator. The novel starts out with the murder of Rob’s parents, the downing of an airliner by a bomb, and Rob being birthed on an Antarctica ice sheet. To that, add a bit of spacebound Gothic with Darius’ watery habitat Atlantis with a squid in space (long before Stephen Baxter did it) and a sinister scientist Morel, reports of “goblins”, and Rob’s attraction to Darius’ assistant Cornelia – complicated by her amnesiac, drug addict mother. Throw in some set pieces like a trip to Way Down, a restaurant far below the surface of Earth, and the asteroid mining accident that made Darius a rich – but very photophobic – man, and you have a suspenseful story full of hard science with a bit of the feeling of Alfred Bester and Charles Harness about it.

Take note, this is the first version of the novel. Sheffield expanded it later in 1989 and 2001. ( )
  RandyStafford | Oct 6, 2013 |
  mcolpitts | Jul 26, 2009 |
  mcolpitts | Jul 26, 2009 |
This is one of Sheffields earlier novels, but the signs of how good a writer he was, and how much better he was to become, are all present in this volume. Unfortunately, his book came out the same year that a similar volume dealing with the same concept was published. Unfortunate because the name on the cover was Arthur C. Clarke, famed author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and therefore familiar to millions who had little if any interest in hard science fiction.
The Fountains of Paradise was Clarke's depiction of the building of a space elevator, or beanstalk. This is Sheffields, and I enjoyed it very much. Like Clarke's, there is an inescapable amount of science going on, and I got rather lost in both amongst the technical stuff. But Sheffield, to my mind, had a much more interesting story on which to hang the sky bridge: one involving industrial espionage, murder, life extension, drug addiction, and one mans unending, unswerving, naked lust for power.
A very good read indeed. ( )
1 vote GibsonGirl | Jan 13, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Sheffieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eggleton, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grace, GerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallejo, BorisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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