THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE
Even now, it was impossible to realise the full meaning of the coming revolution. For the first time Space itself would become as accessible as any point on the surface of the familiar Earth. In a few more decades, if the average man wanted to spend a weekend on the moon, he could afford to do so. Even Mars would not be out of the question; there were no limitations to what might now be possible.
Morgan came back to earth with a bump, as he almost tripped over a piece of badly-laid carpet.
“Sorry,” said his guide, “another of Design's ideas – that green is supposed to remind people of Earth. The ceilings are going to be blue, getting deeper and deeper on the upper floors. And they want to use indirect lighting everywhere, so that the stars will be visible.”
Morgan shook his head. “That's a nice idea, but it won't work. If the lighting's good enough for comfortable reading, the glare will wipe out the stars. You'll need a section of the lounge that can be completely blacked-out.”
“That's already planned for part of the bar – you can order your drink, and retire behind the curtains.”
They were now standing in the lowest floor of the capsule, a circular room eight metres in diameter, three metres high. All around were miscellaneous boxes, cylinders and control panels bearing such labels as OXYGEN RESERVE, BATTERY, CO, CRACKER, MEDICAL, TEMPERATURE CONTROL. Everything was clearly of a provisional, temporary nature, liable to be rearranged at a moment's notice.
“Anyone would think we were building a spaceship,” Morgan commented. “Incidentally, what's the latest estimate of survival time?”
“As long as power's available, at least a week, even for a full load of fifty passengers. Which is really absurd, since a rescue team could always reach them in three hours, either from Earth or Midway.”
“Barring a major catastrophe, like damage to the tower or tracks.”
"If that ever happens, I don't think there will be anyone to rescue. But if a capsule gets stuck for some reason, and the passengers don't go mad and gobble up all our delicious emergency compressed food tablets at once, their biggest the old joke said. But one day its identical brethren would be hurtling up through the clouds and climbing, in only five hours, to Midway Station, twenty-five thousand kilometres from Earth. And all for about one dollar's worth of electricity per passenger.