I read this large hardback book maybe ten years ago from a UK library. I think it was eco sci fi (not sure about that) . The ecological disaster was possibly just the global warming thing of a few years ago. I'm not 100% it was an eco story. .... but a little voice at the back of my brain says yes.

All I can really remember is this inventor who has an idea for using a tiny thing that vibrates glass and it removes moisture. He patents this and becomes mega wealthy because windscreen wipers are no longer needed, this is easily fitted to all cars.

Later in the book (still no memories of the main plot!) this guy is back again, he has a big workshop full of high tech equipment and basically potters about waiting for inspiration.

One day he's off to a meeting but is caught in a traffic jam, idly he's watching some window cleaners on a skyscraper hoist and he gets idea two. He questions his chauffeur to confirm that, ever since the rain repellent device was fitted, the driver had never had to wash the windscreen either.

He builds his second mega fortune by getting his patented device installed on all high rise buildings so their glass never needs cleaned.

This is a minor part IIRC of the main book but very distinctive.

  • 3
    More soft-SF than eco-thriller, if not outright fantasy: an inventor making a fortune thanks to his own patent(s)? That's stretching the suspension of disbelief! :)
    – Eth
    Mar 20, 2019 at 17:32
  • 1
    No, I'm sure it's not an Umberto Eco thriller. Mar 20, 2019 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


In Arthur C Clarke's The Ghost from the Grand Banks, one of the main characters invents the Wave Wiper - a device that not only kept water off a car windscreen, but dirt off of office windows, through some kind of surface layer vibration.

Google books

The Wave Wiper is one short chapter in the book - but as I read the chapter, it almost matches your question with regards to the car windscreen, and then the office building windows making the inventors true fortune - which is only a setup for the rest of the story.

Although, I'm not sure the rest of the book counts as an eco thriller... I'll have to read it again. The Y2K thing is mentioned - and since the book is from 1990, that could have been the "disaster" in the book.

  • 1
    That is absolutely the book, but it's not primarily an ecolological book by any means. Mar 20, 2019 at 15:38
  • Yeah, that's the one, I don't know where the eco thing came from (false memory because I had rain on my mind maybe?) - I'll accept as soon as. Thanks
    – Danny Mc G
    Mar 20, 2019 at 15:43

I don't recall this invention, but this overall seems similar to Dean Ing's novel, The Heavy Lifters -- the protagonist is an inventor whose life purpose is to remove heavy freight movement from the highways people travel on. He makes himself a billionaire with other inventions, but in the end achieves his goal by creating hybrid dirigibles -- using a combination of static (gas) and dynamic (wing-type) lift to move heavy loads at lower cost than trucks or railroads (hence nearly eliminating the surface transport). In the end, a combination of linear induction catapult and laser boost is seen sending a payload to orbit without the expense and hazard of a rocket.

  • The book I'm looking for isn't 'The Heavy Lifters' but thanks for the suggestion...I think I'll end up getting that as well as it sounds intriguing
    – Danny Mc G
    Mar 20, 2019 at 14:10
  • 1
    For anyone that's not able to find the book The Heavy Lifters on GoodReads, it's titled " Big Lifters: Annihilation by Dean Ing" on GoodReads
    – Ghos3t
    Mar 21, 2019 at 2:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.