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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Sci-Fi at its best!
This is the story of an engineer using diamond cable to build a space elevator. Along the way we have visions of the Gibraltar bridge and the argument of putting rails on the side or not, since the vehicles on the bridge will be controlled not by occupants but by the road. Here is Clarke writing about stuff that is now in development. Intelligent roads. When will...
Published on August 4, 2000 by Sailoil

versus
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the ending is worth it
The story here is seems really long and drawn-out, filled with characters that have little or no purpose at all. The main character, Vannemar, is the only one that seems to have any definition. The others are kinda meaningless. It's as if Clarke thought up the ending, then wrote a bunch of "bla bla bla" to lead up to it.

The only thing that kept me interested...
Published on September 18, 2004 by Mr. Nobody


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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Sci-Fi at its best!, August 4, 2000
This is the story of an engineer using diamond cable to build a space elevator. Along the way we have visions of the Gibraltar bridge and the argument of putting rails on the side or not, since the vehicles on the bridge will be controlled not by occupants but by the road. Here is Clarke writing about stuff that is now in development. Intelligent roads. When will we seriously look at the Space elevator? The book is set in Clarke's favourite place on earth Sri-Lanka, although admittedly he conveniently shifts it to a more favourable latitude for scientific reasons. This book is beautifully written but has a backbone of hard science behind it. Today's writers could learn so much from this man.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To the moon!, July 10, 2000
Or not. But close enough. The sad thing about reading this book and reading the later Clarke books is the contrasting quality, this appears to be the last time he had his act completely together, later books have had little sparks of ideas here and there, but mostly lack that roar of inspiration. Not here. Clarke goes for broke, first putting forward an idea that was totally new at the time: a space elevator. For those of you not scientifically inclined, it's basically a long tether connecting a station orbiting the planet, and people could run up and down the cable in cars. Basically it would make spaceflight easier because ships could launch and refuel up there and not have to worry about gravity and escape velocity and it just opens the entire solar system up. These days it's been more commonplace, writers don't even bother centering entire books around it (though Kim Stanley Robinson probably had this book in mind when he had the Martians install an elevator in his Red/Green/Blue Mars book), but back then it was a fairly new idea. And a great one, it's out there but enough so the reader can envision it, the problem with the Ringworld is that I have trouble picturing it within the realms of reality, I just can't, I know it's possible but I just can't do it. Here, it's gloriously real and Clarke takes you every step of the way. He sets the novel in a renamed Sri Lanka and then proceeds to play with the history, framing the story about a king who built a series of gardens to reach the gods two thousand years before. Also there's this alien spacecraft that happens to pass through years before and laughs at the thought of God, which I thought had little relevance (I thought Clarke was just making sly references to Rendevous with Rama at first) and that makes perfect sense as well. It's a quick read, but not a light one, the science concepts are presented so that those without engineer's degrees can follow. Alas it's also out of print (cue rant: WHY?) but well worth your time to find, used book stores should have a copy if you try and look. But if you ever thought that we're reached the limits of our technical achievements, go read this and see just how far we can go.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Arthur Clarke's finest novels., September 2, 2001
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
In the two decades since THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE was written, the idea of an 'elevator' into space has permeated the science fiction world completely, seen as merely a fact of things to come. In part, I believe it is because Arthur C. Clarke made such an excellent case for it in this novel which builds one up 36000 km (24,000 miles)--from Sri Lanka to geostationary orbit. It combines two of the authors most popular themes, technological evolution & human quintessential development, with sparse prose and moving directness. At the time of it's original publication, it was announced to be the author's last novel, which happily is one of Clarke's predictions which did not come true! Very Highly Recommended.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the ending is worth it, September 18, 2004
By 
Mr. Nobody (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
The story here is seems really long and drawn-out, filled with characters that have little or no purpose at all. The main character, Vannemar, is the only one that seems to have any definition. The others are kinda meaningless. It's as if Clarke thought up the ending, then wrote a bunch of "bla bla bla" to lead up to it.

The only thing that kept me interested was the Starglider side story. The Starglider was an unmanned alien craft that traveled to our solar system and used it's on-board computer to communicate with us.

The ending is one of the best that Clarke has written. Which I thought made the entire book worth reading. Although I thought the characters and the rest of the story only served one purpose: filler.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May yet be the most important book of the 20th Century, November 10, 2001
By 
BearMaster "bearmaster" (Tucson, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
Hugo & Nebula Awards for Best Novel.
Nikola Tesla has been called the man who invented the 20th century. I'm hoping that Clarke will be remembered as the man who invented the 21st. As I type this there is a TV in the room, connected to a box, in turn connected to a dish on the roof, that is pointed to a satellite over 42,000 km away in what is called a Clarke Orbit, after the astronomer who realized it would be a useful place for a communications satellite to be, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
So what does that have to do with this novel? In this book Clarke talks about a bridge, a tether that connects the ground to Clarke orbit. A vertical railroad, allowing for a more economical method for reaching Earth-orbit than riding on a Space Shuttle with the power of sixty-five locomotives.
As in real life, the political problems far outweigh the technical ones, and those who say that Clarke is weak in characterization have not read the same book I did.
Do the math, we can build a tether, we should build it. The only thing wrong with this book is that it hasn't happened, yet.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The People Who Build the Future, March 13, 2004
By 
Bart Leahy (Huntsville, AL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
You can almost see Patrick Stewart playing Vannevar Morgan, the driven engineer who pushes to construct the world's first "space elevator." For any reader unfamiliar with the concept, what Clarke talks about in this book is a train track that stretches from the equator to geostationary orbit, where our weather satellites generally reside. This immense tower, elevator, or "skyhook" could humanity tremendous amounts of money and energy, as we would no longer have to launch rockets into space, but could simply send payloads up this extended elevator. From there, we could use the spin of the earth at the elevator's uppermost point to launch payloads throughout the solar system without using as much fuel.
It's heady stuff, and I thoroughly enjoyed Clarke's play with this concept. And along the way, he manages to describe the "office of the future" (much of which has already occurred in the 22 years since the book was released), the flooding of the Sahara, the damming of the Bering Sea, the bridging of the Straits of Gibraltar, and other massive engineering projects. Oh yes, and Clarke also throws in a lesson or two about Buddhism, contact with an alien space probe, weather satellites, the aurora borealis, the history of a monument in his native Sri Lanka, and half a dozen other historical engineering developments. Clarke's work here is about PROGRESS, writ large. This is still one of my favorite books. Perhaps that is because of Morgan, the only well-developed character in the whole story. He is one of those characters whom the real world does not have enough of: the truly visionary engineer. At any rate, Clarke manages to show a future in which man-made machines are awe-inspiring but not detrimental or overpowering to mankind.
I'd like to live in this world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The One About the Space Elevator, July 25, 2004
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
A hard science-fiction novel, Clarke takes the idea of a space elevator and invents a material that solves the major hurdle to constructing such an elevator today - form of carbon that has enough tensile strength to support itself over the long distance from Earth to geosychronous orbit. Surrounding this major idea is the story of the man trying to build it - Vannemar Morgan, whose resume' includes building a bridge across the Pillars of Hercules.

Morgan's story of ambition and reach begins in parallel to that of Kalidasa, an ancient king of Clarke's country of Taprobane - analog to the real world's Sri Lanka which has been Clarke's home since the late 1960's. Kalidasa's strugles to construct a fountain and tower complex in the face of political opposition from his brother and religious opposition from Buddhist monks mirrors Morgan's own struggles with the head of his company, a prominent senator, and with the heirs to the monks of Kalidasa's day who reside in a temple at the prime location for the anchor point of the elevator.

This parallel is largely pushed aside mid-way through the book, while the theme of the tension between technology, knowledge and religion is picked up in other ways. Still, the focus of the book remains about the construction of Morgan's tower and his drive to complete it. There is some development of other characters: an ex-world president retired to Taprobane,the head of the monastary there, and reporter Maxine Duval who may get the most attention of the minor characters. Yet they remain fairly one dimensional to the collossal construction project which towers over the text.

In his afterword, Clarke cites the major scientific literature about skyhooks & space elevators that preceded the novel beginning in 1960.

This winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards is one of the few novels that have shaped the landscape of science fiction beyond themselves. Most prominently, one can see Clarke's vision behind Kim Stanley Robinson's elevator in _Red Mars_ and its sequels. One also sees an early use of monofiliment here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effortlessly Brilliant, March 8, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The bad thing about Kindle books is the fact that one tends to get caught up in so many extremely bad books, that
we lower our standards very easily.
Reading this Arthur Clark novel has made me recognise that.
We settle for cheap and frequently regurgitated themes that when a classic such as this comes along,
in my case, a second time, we tend to not recognise the genius behind it.

His style is smooth and effortless and I will reccomend it to any age.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, May 10, 2003
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
When I knew that the book was all about the construction of a 36000km high tower, I look scornfully at it. But when I started to read the strong and plausible scientific background the story has, I started to consider Clarke not only the greatest science fiction writer ever, but also one of the greatest visionaries of our time.
I only took one star out of my rate because the story developed around it is not as good as in Rendezvous with Rama and Space Odyssey, but this Clarke's vision of future compensates it by far and makes the book worthwile anyway.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars read it for the experience, not the story, January 19, 2005
This review is from: The Fountains of Paradise (Paperback)
There is hardly any character development in this entire book. The story line is somewhat awkward. There are too many chapters (57) which only makes the story choppy.

The whole plot revolves around the building and operation of an orbital tower or space elevator. The tower doesn't really play a big part of the story until almost half way through the book however. The author explains the technical problems in building the tower fairly well but I thought he could have done a better job in explaining exactly how the tower was built, what it looked like and exactly how it worked. The part of the book that was meant to be suspenseful wasn't to me because it was hard for me to visualize exactly what was happening and the physical surroundings.

Also, I think it was way too easy to build that tower.
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The Fountains of Paradise
The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke (Paperback - September 1, 2001)
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