Arthur C. Clarke has always been my favorite Sci-Fi author. I think it is because his stories are based on technically sound ideas using realistic concepts and he also tends to stick with relatively near-term stories that could well come to fruition. One of his stories is even one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies - 2001: A Space Odyssey. Given a slightly different political and economic environment, much of what he wrote about in that story could well have come to pass. Stories such as "Earthlight", "Prelude to Space", "A Fall of Moondust", or "Imperial Earth" gave me lots of ideas about what life might soon be like as we continued our expansion into space. One classic was "Rendezvous with Rama" which I remember reading as we traveled across country in 1976. One story I had trouble getting started on was "Fountains of Paradise". It started out slowly and the first time I started it, I put it down and couldn't get back into it. About a year later, I finally decided I was going to finish reading that book no matter what. It was the story of the building of the first Space Elevator. A Space Elevator is just that - a tall tower of sorts which allows one to use mechanical means rather than rockets to get out into space. But the materials needed to build such a contraption, at least in 1978 when he published that book, were only available in our imagination. Today, however, it might just be possible. If we could build a Space Elevator, we could climb into space for penny's on the dollar compared to using traditional rockets & we could use them to slingshot us to the planets as well. Arthur C. Clarke recently wrote a short article on Space Elevators. It's well worth a read.