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"...the people dealing with these new technologies will still be derived from the human stock we're familiar with today."
- Charles Stross

Needles (Chocolate and Vanilla)  
  Inflated towers reaching 20 miles out of Earth's atmosphere.  

The few times he had left Earth before, rising and returning by balloon, there have been the other ships to watch, bright and busy as they floated up to Power Station or back down the pressurized interior of one of the Needles.

Neither of the great Needles had ever been boring. The thin ceram walls that held the twenty-mile towers at sea-level pressures had been painted with gigantic murals -- huge swooping birds and pseudo science-fiction space battles copied from twenty-century magazines. It had never been claustrophobic.

From Sundiver, by David Brin.
Published by Not Known in 1979
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  - Inflatable Space Tower Prototype Assembled

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