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"There's a poetry in the materials we use to construct our world of artifacts; it speaks of our long history as a technological species."
- William Gibson

Transparent Spherical Ship  
  A huge sphere of quartz housing a platform for space use.  

Bulking in the firmament ahead, now appeared the Thing they had sped to combat, the vast transparent shell of the Emperor of the Stars. A huge hollow sphere it was, almost a thousand feet across, of fused, clear quartz, the walls tremendously thick!

In the center of the great hollow floated a disk that almost reached across the globe. On it appeared a hive of great machines and apparatus. Giant pistons slid back and forth, huge vacuum tubes glowed with electronic discharges, motors and dynamos were surging with power...

From The Emperor of the Stars, by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat).
Published by Wonder Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

This is a striking image; I think that Larry Niven's General Products hull from his 1970 novel Ringworld is pretty much a duplicate of this idea (the #4 hull is a thousand foot sphere). See also the space laboratory from Schachner's Crystalized Thought (1937).

The configuration, which is a spherical platform that appears to be suspended in space, will also remind sf readers of the space-going towns in Cities in Flight, the James Blish novels of the late 1950's. Instead of using a material sphere, Blish created the idea of a spindizzy, which created a force-field as well as anti-gravity.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Emperor of the Stars
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)
  Tech news articles related to The Emperor of the Stars
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner (w. AL Zagat)

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