A Lost Monument in the Sea
Dave didn’t pay attention to politics or public policy or budgetary issues back then, so he was one of, well, everyone, with no idea what NASA was asking for from Congress, tricking of corporations, and recruiting engineers and scientists from around the world. Within a couple years of research thanks to their generous resources, Dr. Gunn’s rogue team came up with a nano carbon tube ribbon lattice, or something like that. The media had trouble stringing together the terminology so it was referred to as “super cable,” as laymen got their mouths around it, for “some kind of internet thing.”
Dr. Gunn toured the cable news circuit lauding the great advances of this discovery and the scientific implications. Many politicians and businessmen were quite interested to hear him drop hints of what the technology could do. The words “space elevator” were later hinted as being something that could be science fact. Dave’s ears perked up to hear of this. “Not again with the elevator garbage, Dave,” his wife would say, “we still can’t get invited back to the Warren’s parties.” She couldn’t be annoyed too long when she would look up at that big nose of his.
The Japanese government was early to endorse the space elevator dream. In international waters very near the equator, the Japanese government built an island out of recycled trash. This move was advertised as being in the name of scientific advancement, but the revenues they collected to haul away trash from other countries resulted in it being a very lucrative effort for the governement. This later came to be known as Elevator Island. The political leadership in the U.S. was ripe for scientific advancement, and more money was funnelled toward Dr. Gunn’s team with the new location for the project to be based.
Plans were made to build a massive terminal at Elevator Island as well as a large port capable of receiving the gargantuan barges of space-bound cargo. Four elevator “cars,” each thirty stories tall were built in California and stored to await the completion of the elevator. Each car was equipped with hotels, work stations, entertainment facilities, crew’s quarters, restaurants, gyms, and medical units along with massive cargo holds. Panels were constructed and stacked for miles that were to be used as the outer skin of the elevator. These panels had the purpose of protecting the elevator from weather, corrosion, the jet stream, and any malfunctions that might strand the cars at higher elevations and endanger the passengers. They also could stabilize the structure from vibrations caused by machinery propelling the elevator, or the massive transports bringing cargo and passengers to the island. There was constant construction of the panels and the cables as they were to span great distances as the precious materials were scoured across the planet.
Over the years of construction on the mainland popular support was growing, but there was starting to be pushback from groups railing against the project. One of the most notable pieces of anti-elevator propaganda was a crude animation meant to be showcased during an hour long documentary on a cable news channel. While it was barely seen during the original airing, the snippet went viral on the internet for its pompacity. An ominous voice read over the goofy animations:
“What if disaster struck?” A thin wire snapped, and the cartoonish people in space elevator looked into the camera, hands on their cheeks as they screamed.
“The super-cable would fall to earth in a whipping motion. The earth would continue to spin making the cable wrap around the earth at great speeds.” The cable flails and crashes to animated earth, wrapping around the planet.
“It would take on a life of its own, thrashing through mountains and cities.” Blocky buildings were shown being ripped in half and flying through the air. A close up of an animated man as the super-cable whipped through him popping his head clean off, and cartoonish amounts of blood spraying onto the screen.
“Everything in its path would be destroyed.” A little cartoon girl’s face filled the screen, her face was creepy her eyes lacking life. Her face faded into a view of Earth from space as it burned. It appeared as though someone set fire to a globe on a string in front of a black background.
Parodies of the animation were all over the late night comedy shows. One comedian changed the images to a heavy actress stumbling on the red carpet of a movie premiere, crashing into people as the same voiceover narrated. “Everything in its path would be destroyed.” A picture of her eating at a large burrito faded into the image of flaming globe. The studio audience was out of control hooting and hollering as the comedian laughed so hard he was wiping a tear from his eye as the camera cut back to him. Dave chuckled to see this parady on his first viewing.