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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Shadow Square  
  An enormous blind that orbits a star.  

The novel describes the discovery of an enormous artifact; a ring of material that completely surrounds a star, providing a staggering amount of living space. The alien species that discovered the star asks humans for their opinion on what they have found:

The ring was checkered. There were regular rectangular shadows along its blue back.

"Can you give us a better picture?"

"We can expand it," said the contralto voice. The G2 star jerked forward, then shot blazing off to the right, so that Louis was looking down on the lighted inner surface of the ring. Blurred as it was, Louis could only guess that the brighter, whiter areas might be cloud, that regions of faintly deeper blue might be land where lighter blue was sea.

But the shadowed areas were quite visible. The ring seemed to be laid out in rectangles: a long strip of glowing baby blue followed by a shorter strip of deep, navy blue, followed by another long strip of light blue. Dots and dashes.

"Something's causing those shadows," he said. "Something in orbit?"

"Yes, just that. Twenty rectangular shapes orbit in a Kemplerer rosette much nearer the primary. We do not know their purpose."

"You wouldn't. It's been too long since you had a sun. These orbiting rectangles must be there to separate night from day. Otherwise it would always be high noon on the ring."

From Ringworld, by Larry Niven.
Published by Ballantine in 1970
Additional resources -

Don't forget - you'll need about a billion miles of shadow square wire to keep the shadow squares in position.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Ringworld
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
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  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

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  - Find Extraterrestrial Civilizations By Their Works

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