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Showing 1-10 of 84 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 141 reviews
on March 9, 2014
If you enjoy sci-fi which gets down to very detailed explanations of how something might be accomplished, this book may be for you. Several passages read more like an engineering guide than a novel. While I appreciate attention to detail and some basis in reality, I felt overwhelmed and less than entertained by that portion. It felt like the novel was trying to be many things and thus failing to be anything completely.

The engineering portion came roughly halfway through the book. At the start, it alternated between two interesting stories - an ancient tale of King Kalidasa who had grand designs including the titular fountains, and the story in the 22nd century of engineer Vannevar Morgan approaching the retired diplomat Rajasinghe about his design for an elevator to the stars. Both tales were interesting and I was eagerly anticipating the two would continue until they connected. I was disappointed to soon find the tale of Kalidasa abandoned.

Soon a third major storyline was introduced with flashbacks to a time when Earth was contacted by an alien space probe. The passage teases about an alien race which is more advanced than the people of Earth; however, this storyline too is basically dropped until much much later when it is resurrected in a somewhat inexplicable manner.

The saving grace of the book for me was the large final segment which details the building of the space elevator. The reactions of people to the idea was interesting and the extended sequence regarding an accident where Morgan has a chance to be heroic was the best part. It contained some good tension and a tragic but satisfying outcome.
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on January 16, 2011
Arthur C Clarke is my favorite author. He focuses more on possible technology and less so on characters and ridiculous drama with those characters. This is what I love about him.

The "Fountains of Paradise" definitely fits that bill. A space elevator is an amazing idea because it will make spaceflight economical and safe. From that elevator a ring of habital space can be created. More elevators created to reach that ring finally creating a large wheel around our planet. If we don't destroy ourselves with differences in race, religion, or nationality, I believe this will happen. It only makes sense as the next step in our need for satellites and launch platforms for space probes and an emerging business of space tourism. Satellites would no longer need to be rocketed to space which carries pollution and high risk to an expensive delivery system.

Anyway, getting back to the book. The story of an engineer, Morgan, and his first triumph of a bridge built connecting europe to africa via the gibralter straight (also an eventuality) has his next career step in a bridge from earth to geoscynchronous space above the earth. The beginning of the book deals with trying to use the only part of earth that can be used for the base of the elevator but unfortunately it is used by a buddhist monastary. Morgan's personal story is nothing out of the ordinary and is used as a vehicle for the true star, the space elevator. The third portion of the book uses a small emergency of the elevator getting stuck as some story material. Morgan to the rescue regardless of a heart condition.

I think what may have made this just an ok novel for me is previously reading "3001" where such a system of space elevator and habitable ring around the planet is explored at its fullest eventual potential. To me "Fountains" was a stripped down version of this, rightly so as "3001" is much in the future to "Fountains".

Regardless, this book will one day be as one of Jules Vernes stories predicting submarines or spaceflight!
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on May 29, 2017
This book is exactly what made me a science fiction fan more than 40 years ago. Clarke takes real science, history, and what seems like a preposterous idea, an elevator to space and artfully weaves a engaging story that I can believe is truly possible. Very well written and masterly woven together to create a science fiction masterpiece.
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on April 10, 2016
After completing the biography of Clarke, everything suggested this was the next book to read. It was full of big ideas, had quite a few nice twists and turns but seems incomplete. The ending was so abrupt although the post script was quite creative.
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on May 3, 2017
Just happened on a documentary following two researchers who realized the limitations of space are the rockets required to get us there. A space elevator is the distant solution to the problem. This, of course, is fraught with its own set of issues.

This is science fiction which may become science fact.
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on November 16, 2014
I started reading Clarke in college for credit in an English class. My introduction was Childhood's End. Here I am 30 almost years later and re-reading many of his works and enjoying them as if for the first time. The fascinating aspect of Clarke's work is how well he has imagined technological advances mankind would make over the decades. While we remain far from bridging the great gaps between planetary bodies in our solar system, the science is sound. Now if we could only get our world's governmental bodies to work together...
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on June 2, 2015
Fountains of Paradise is excellent in as a stand-alone piece of fiction and serves as an insight into the types of the back-room politics and technology development which would most likely be required to develop a project such as the Space Elevator, a concept first envisioned by Russian Scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895. Clarke does a masterful job explaining the technology needed to build it, as well as the give and take of the politics of the construction and ultimate control of its use.

As a side bonus, this is also a prequel to the fourth book in Clarke's "2001" series, i.e., "3001" where the body of Frank Poole is found in space a thousand years later and brought back to life. His recovery takes place on the Space Elevator.
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on May 26, 2017
The man is a genius, so far ahead of the technology possible when this book was written. He helps us open our minds to the untapped possibilities.
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on January 24, 2013
The book has a great description of the space elevator and the process of building the first one. But the characters were painted a bit thin. (Typical of a lot of hard SF). There was also a bit of preachy atheism in the book. This could have been an interesting part of the book, but it ended up being a loose end of the plot that was never tied up. The conflict between the engineer and the monastery was inadequately resolved. There was also an interesting subplot with the ancient history of the site of the space elevator (a fictional equivalent to the nation of Sri Lanka). Like most hard SF, the highlight was the science and Clarke did a nice job here. A more recent telling of the story would have had a bit more nanotech in it, but overall this was a good read.
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on March 8, 2013
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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