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I'm trying to remember a book I read a few years ago (although it is most likely much older), whereby a young woman is taking part in a yacht race around the Earth (or maybe the moon) using solar sails. While taking part in this race, she passes out and her body is used as an avatar for an alien race to communicate with Earth.

There may have also been a sub-plot involving a company building a huge structure that reaches out into the atmosphere so that ships and shuttles can be launched without first expending energy to escape the atmoshpere.

Thank you.

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You're referring to "The Last Theorem" by Frederik Pohl, written as an adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke story "Sunjammer" (originally published as "The Wind from the Sun")

Per Wikipedia;

The solar powered space yacht race [in which the heroine is abducted by aliens] was first featured in a short story of Clarke's, "The Wind from the Sun" (1964), and the concept of a "mysterious Elder Race" deciding our fate, in this case the Grand Galactics, has appeared in several of Clarke's previous novels, including Childhood's End (1953) and the Space Odyssey Series (1968–1997). Some of Pohl's earlier themes also appear here, including his human-machine hybrid which featured in Man Plus (1976)

The Last Theorem also has an international consortium constructing a space elevator, the structure which you refer to.

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  • Thank you! I knew I remembered something about the pirates and a character being tortured, but I thought it was too out of context to even be the same book. Commented May 16, 2014 at 14:54
  • 2
    The book is best characterised as a mish-mash of better stories
    – Valorum
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 15:01
  • @Wingman4l7 - Nice edit.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 16:00
  • @Richard - actually, I would say "the book is characterized as a mish-mash of better stories, at best". Clarke and especially Pohl are favorite authors of mine, but when I read that book I felt very sad.
    – davidbak
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 6:27

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