Thompson (How to Live Forever, 1996, etc.) offers readers plenty to think about, while providing, as usual, a great deal to look at in this story of a world where the sun no longer shines. The richest man in the world wants his grandson to see the sun as it truly is, without the haze of pollutants that makes their world look as if it were wrapped in ""dirty cotton wool."" The biggest balloon ever cannot take them beyond the clouds, so they resolve to build a tower that will--""What use is all my money if I can't build dreams?"" asks the grandfather. The construction of the tower is full of Thompson's expected visual and spatial puns and drolleries; when, after decades of work, people start adding whole buildings to the tower, some very recognizable architectural works (the Guggenheim, the Sydney Opera House, Stonehenge) appear. The carefully wrapped Tower of Pisa is the final element that enables the very old man and his great-grandson to feel the warmth of the sun at last. Thompson's opening and concluding comparison of the tower with the Great Wall of China doesn't hold up to any sort of scrutiny, but his painterly pyrotechnics make this worth lingering over.