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The Fountains of Paradise Paperback – September 1, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Published in 1953, 1952, and 1979, respectively, this trio of novels follow Clarke's recurring theme of humans thrusting themselves into space and then not necessarily liking what they find. The religious images that run throughout Clarke's work also are present here.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Clarke once again sounds his grand theme...man is most himself when he...challenges the very laws of the universe." -- -The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446677949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446677943
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #846,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.Read more ›
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Format: 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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Format: 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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