The Fountains of Paradise
In this, which many consider this to be Clarke's best novel, Vannevar Morgan is the greatest civil engineer of the mid-22nd century. Having built a bridge across the Straits of Gibraltar, he dreams of an even greater accomplishment, a bridge to space: a "skyhook," or "space elevator." This will be a cable stretching from the Earth's equator to an anchoring satellite in geosynchronous orbit. First Morgan must deal with the monks who own the ideal real estate, a mountaintop on the fictional island of Taprobane (a version of Clarke's adopted home of Sri Lanka, moved south so that it lies on the equator). He also has to work on the financing, solve various political problems, deal with skeptics, and finally solve some critical engineering issues and deal with the inevitable crises accompanying the actual building of the elevator.