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"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
- Gregory Benford

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
Additional resources -

Compare to the pressurized penthouses from Bread Overhead! (1958) by Fritz Leiber.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Sundiver
  More Ideas and Technology by David Brin
  Tech news articles related to Sundiver
  Tech news articles related to works by David Brin

Needles (Chocolate and Vanilla)-related news articles:
  - Inflatable Space Tower Prototype Assembled

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