Arthur C. Clarke - The Fountains of Paradise (2)
This book has won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and while I don't fully agree with quite so much formalized praise, its central character, a geostationary tower 40.000 kilometers high, rising from the slightly shifted island of Sri Lanka, is a fascinating and awe inspiring invention. It's story, intertwined with that of it's engineer, Vannevar Morgan, is nicely contrasted to that of an ancient king, who reached for the stars of his time and found death in the process, just as Morgan does. I think it's this undercurrent of engineering and progress as substitutes for religion, which is painted as their opposite, and seems to include anything not logically deducible, that makes this tiring to read. Not accidentally, the humans in the story are shallow and lifeless, and the final chapter betrays the mix of engineering and Nietzsche that seems to fuel Clarke's world view: at the great noon, the superman will come in a chariot from the stars, to unite with the child and found the future. An engineer's dream of electric sheep.