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"Science fiction is what scientists would do if they could - if they had enough grant money, enough time, and enough brains to do the wonderful things they would like to do."
- Greg Bear

Harvesting Saturn's Rings  
  Mining the rings for industrial purposes.  

Bitingly sarcastic commentary from Bester.

Saturn was quite a sight as it came looming up... Alas, only the two inner rings remain. Despite violent protests by ecologists and cosmologists, the Better Building Conglomerate had been permitted to harvest the third outer ring for some kind of better building aggregate. There was a housing crisis, and the [Conglomerate] paid enormous taxes. One infuriated astronomer had been euthanized for burning the chairman of the board.
From The Computer Connection, by Alfred Bester.
Published by Berkeley Publishing in 1974
Additional resources -

Compare to the earliest mention of the idea of mining Saturn's rings that I know about, the space placers from The Day We Celebrate, a 1941 short story by Nelson S. Bond.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Computer Connection
  More Ideas and Technology by Alfred Bester
  Tech news articles related to The Computer Connection
  Tech news articles related to works by Alfred Bester

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