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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Permanent Skywriting  
  Non-wispy skywriting letters.  

Everett Mordecai had one last chance at H.J. Spurgle Soap Company; advertising skywriting pilot. Unfortunately, his best efforts blew away after just a minute or two. H.J. Spurgle wasn't too happy. "I'm not paying you to trail a lot of smoke across the sky that nobody can read. Why, I could do better with a thirty-cent cigar! ...I want more permanence in those letters! Permanence!"

After several weeks of research...

Mordecai hauled out a stop watch, turned his eyes upward to the slogan he'd just written.

"Possibly you'd like to time these letters..."

Automatically Spurgle gazed up too. The letters, still firm, still strong and perfectly formed, seemed to be settling earthward, undisturbed by the brisk breeze that scudded across the field...

Silently the three walked over to the slogan. Spurgle kicked at the letter G... It was a monstrous white thing, ten feet thick, half a city block long, composed of a flexible elastic substance that resembled something between jello and foam rubber, yet was opaque and so light that despite its size, Mordecai could pick the entire letter up with one hand.

"You asked for permanence... It's just a little synthetic rubber derivative with a dash of neoprene and a couple of jiggers of koroseal..."

From Soap Opera, by Alan Nelson.
Published by Magazine of F and SF in 1953
Additional resources -

Taking to the skies, Mordecai began skywriting with a vengeance:

By dusk of the second day, the downtown area was completely paralyzed. All traffic had stopped. Rubber letters completely smothered every street, lay crazily across roof tops, stacked up on one another like a gigantic, disordered wood pile. Only the peaks of the tallest buildings were visible.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Soap Opera
  More Ideas and Technology by Alan Nelson
  Tech news articles related to Soap Opera
  Tech news articles related to works by Alan Nelson

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