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I saw the trailer for a movie Elysium, and it reminded me of a book I read as a kid.

It was about how Earth was poor but had a giant population, and the space stations were rich and had better technologies, but low population due to dimensional constraints. Then some guys on Earth try to develop an advanced ship and somebody remarks how even though an average Earth citizen is poor, there is a billion of them and if you take 1 dollar from each you now have a billion dollars at your disposal.

I tried various google searches but to no avail. Perhaps it was an Asimov short story? I looked through his works but none seem to match.

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    How long ago were you a kid? – phantom42 Jul 8 '13 at 20:24
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I went ahead and used your hunch regarding the author and quickly built upon my own memories of reading Asimov. I think perhaps the novel you MIGHT be looking for, and I'm not completely sure is Asimov's "Nemesis" which shares several of the same themes that you have mentioned.

Without spoiling to much, the book centers around a group of space colonists who attempt to flee the overcrowding and "base" nature of earth through the use of a Colony ship which gets as close to light speed as possible. They eventually arrive at their destination and attempt to set up a colony on a moon that is covered in a very low form of life which becomes hostile to them (Bacterial spreads). A parallel plot runs through the story of those humans trapped on earth attempting to leave as well and develop FTL technology in order to do so, spurred on by the sudden fleeing and "betrayal" of the space colonists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_(Asimov)

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