I'm rereading Sundiver by David Brin for the first time in a long time. In it, Jacob Demwa is recently scarred by an incident at the Vanilla Needle in which he loses his wife. Brin is excellent at fleshing out his universes in great detail and we get lots of flash backs to this. I was just wondering if Brin ever put the whole story to paper anywhere. Are there any short stories or novels that tell the tale of Demwa's experiences at the Vanilla Needle? Or any of his other mentioned adventures?

  • I don't think so, but I'm not entirely sure. – Martha F. Feb 2 '11 at 3:45
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    As far as I remember, he doesn’t even explicitly say what “Vanilla Needle” is (although a space elevator seems a pretty safe bet). Shame. – Konrad Rudolph Feb 2 '11 at 14:46
  • He doesn't, but he describes it in some detail when Demwa is leaving the planet. Sounds like some sort of space elevator. – Daniel Bingham Feb 2 '11 at 18:46

No, I'm afraid not. Brin seems to have a habit of writing novels that seem like sequels to other novels that never actually existed.

Jacob Demwa is mentioned briefly in Startide Rising, but apart from that we only know what's in Sundiver.

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    He is also mentioned several times in Heaven's Reach, and makes a somewhat indirect appearance, but no more information is provided than was available in Startide Rising. – Paul Feb 5 '16 at 23:53

It definitely is a space elevator built in Ecuador. At one point it is called the Finnila Needle. Seems Brin is imaging a place as well as the space elevator as I couldn't find such a place. What a tease! BTW, Demwa s described, tongue in cheek, in the short story "Gorilla my Dreams".


David Brin wrote this in a blog post in 2009:

A GIANT inflatable tower could carry people to the edge of space without the need for a rocket, and could be completed much sooner than a cable-based space elevator, its proponents claim. he team envisages assembling the structure from a series of modules constructed from Kevlar-polyethylene composite tubes made rigid by inflating them with a lightweight gas such as helium.My colleague Jeff Hecht has a cool article on this in the New Scientist. Of course, I described this system in SUNDIVER, back in 1979 -- the "Vanilla Needle" - named after my friend, Ron Finnila, who first mentioned the idea to me. I even have extensive notes for a way-cool graphic novel that would have featured Jacob Demwa saving the huge, inflated needle.

  • Now if only he would write that graphic novel! – Daniel Bingham Aug 28 '13 at 17:16

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