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"The whole problem of energy sources is going to be solved by little solutions, not by some big new piece of technology that does everything. We got into this crisis by believing that we had one big piece of technology that would do everything (oil)."
- Gregory Benford

Resilian  
  A natural fiber that is as strong as steel.  

Nature often provides strong structures or fibers in a organic setting. Fertile ground for the imagination of science fiction writers.

Blantham reached in his pocket, produced a small white box. Magnus Ridolph, snapping back the top, found within a cluster of inch-long purple tubes, twisting and curling away from a central node. They were glossy, flexible, and interspersed with long pink fibers. He shook his head politely.

“I’m afraid I can’t identify the object.”

“It’s ticholama,” said Blantham. "Resilian in its natural state.”

“Indeed!” and Magnus Ridolph examined the purple cluster with new interest.

“Each of those tubes,” said Blantham, “is built of countless spirals of resilian molecules, each running the entire length of the tube. That’s the property, naturally, which gives resilian its tremendous elasticity and tensile strength.”

Technovelgy from The Howling Bounders, by Jack Vance.
Published by Startling Stories in 1949
Additional resources -

As is Vance's wont, he provides additional details:

He stepped into the TCI office, where he was received with courtesy. He requested and was permitted use of the mnemiphot. Seating himself comfortably, he found the code for resilian, ticked it into the selector, attentively pursued the facts, pictures, formulae, statistics drifting across the screen. He noted the tensile strength — about the same as mild steel, and saw with interest that resilian dampened with hesso-penthol welded instantly into another piece of resilian.

H e leaned back in his chair, tapped his pencil thoughtfully against his notebook. He returned to the mnemiphot, dialed ahead to the preparation of resilian from the raw ticholama. The purple tubes, he found, were frozen in liquid air, passed through a macerator, which pulverized the binding gums, soaked in hesso-hexylic acid, then alcohol, dried in a centrifuge, a process which left the fibres in a felt-like mat. This mat was combed until the fibers lay parallel, impregnated with hesso-penthol and compressed into a homogeneous substance — resilian.

Compare to krimskell fiber from Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Howling Bounders
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Howling Bounders
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

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