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The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C.…

The Fountains of Paradise (original 1979; edition 1979)

by Arthur C. Clarke

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2,216282,921 (3.75)27
Title:The Fountains of Paradise
Authors:Arthur C. Clarke
Info:VGSF, 1989.
Collections:Your library
Tags:nebula, hugo, sf masterworks, science fiction, space elevator, orbital tower, Sri Lanka

Work details

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke (1979)

  1. 103
    The Web Between The Worlds by Charles Sheffield (lorax)
    lorax: The two classic space elevator novels, written nearly simultaneously. Clarke's is a better book, but they're both good engineering SF, and if you like space elevators you definitely should read them both.

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  rouzejp | Sep 2, 2015 |
This is one of Arthur C Clarke's finest novels, up there with 'Rendezvous With Rama' and 'The Ghost From The Grand Banks'. As always his characters are both immensely plausible and utterly empathetic, and his plots are intricately constructed and wholly believable.

The principal protagonist is this novel, set in the mid twenty-second century by which time Earth has already colonised the Moon, Mercury and Mars, is Vannever (Van) Morgan, one of the world's leading civil and structural engineers most renowned for having designed the Gibraltar Bridge. Morgan's current dream is a space elevator, stretching from the isle of Taprobane (a scarcely disguised Sri Lanka) up to the outer reaches of the atmosphere, 25,000 miles in geo-synchronous orbit, using the newly-minted hyper-filament technology.

To achieve this feat he has to overcome opposition in the form of a centuries-old community of Buddhist monks established in a 2000 year old monastery at the faith's most sacred site. Meanwhile Clarke gives us some of the history of the ancient kingdom of Taprobane (incorporating a potted but scintillating history of pre-Medieval Ceylon).

Clarke is not merely a master of the technologies (real and imaginary) with which his characters grapple; he also manages, seemingly effortlessly, to develop flawless plots suffused with totally credible human interests. His work has been one of the most compelling arguments to show that science fiction can also be worthy of the term "literary fiction". An accomplished scientist as well as a masterful writer. ( )
1 vote Eyejaybee | Aug 21, 2015 |
This is the book that popularised the idea of space elevators. It is a reasonable treatment of the engineering of such a development without going into detail. There is a slow build up to the climax. However, I was a little disappointed with the ending. Thankfully the epilogue filled in some of the promised future. In my opinion, this is not the master's greatest book, but it was an enjoyable read. ( )
  Bruce_McNair | Feb 17, 2015 |
After years without reading him, this book remind me what I liked and disliked about Arthur C. Clarke.

This is a nice hard sci-fi story with good technical detail and sense of history, linking tradition and progress. On the other hand, characters are very flat, with an always correct, honest, disciplined, polite, virtuous engineer working with other highly professional unemotional people lead only by hard facts (or educated intuitions from their experience or studies). It is a too aseptic world to fall deeply into it.

Still, it makes an enjoyable story. ( )
  ivan.frade | Sep 29, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The latest scheme dreamed up by Dr. Vannevar Morgan, a materials engineer, is either pure genius or pure crackpot: He wants to build an elevator to space. He's discovered a new material that he thinks is strong enough to withstand the gravitational and climatic forces that would act on such a structure and he's found the only place on Earth where it's possible to achieve his dream: the top of the mountain Sri Kanda on the equatorial island of Taprobane (pronounced "top-ROB-oh-knee"). Unfortunately, this mountain is the sacred home of a sect of Buddhist monks who are not willing to budge unless one of their prophecies is fulfilled.

Dr. Morgan is not the first ambitious man to have grandiose plans for this particular summit. Hundreds of years before, King Kalidasa struggled with the same sect of monks when he built his pleasure gardens. His crowning achievement was the construction of "The Fountains of Paradise," which utilized a pump system and slave labor to propel jets of water high into the sky. King Kalidasa's pursuits and achievements foreshadow Dr. Morgan's own desires for the same mountaintop. Both men have ostentatious goals that are ahead of their times, both are revered by some and ridiculed by others, both are plagued by the knowledge that they may die before seeing their dreams come true, and both must consider the possibility that there exists a higher power who may not look kindly upon such brazen displays of human pride and ambition.

The Fountains of Paradise was published in 1979 and won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards that year. The fictional setting is an alternative Sri Lanka, where Arthur C. Clarke lived the second half of his life, and King Kalidasa is based on a real Sri Lankan king.

The Fountains of Paradise is an exciting story that still feels fresh more than 30 years later. The clever juxtaposition of Morgan's dreams with King Kalidasa's similar pursuits adds much beauty and poignancy to the tale. Dr. Morgan doesn't know about Kalidasa until he reaches Sri Kanda, but on the mountain, the grand king comes alive for him and, with Morgan, we experience the beauty of that ancient civilization.

In glorious contrast, we see Dr. Morgan's stunning vision of Earth's future -- people quickly and inexpensively traveling back and forth to multiple space stations that orbit the Earth and are connected to the planet by Morgan's elevators. This spectacular vision is especially plausible coming from Sir Arthur C. Clarke, whose contributions to the history of geostationary satellite communications is well-known and makes the reader wonder whether this implausible image may someday become reality, just like the fantastic dreams of Morgan and Kalidasa.

Thank you to Brilliance Audio for putting The Fountains of Paradise on audio. Marc Vietor's narration is flawless and I enjoyed every moment of this production. It's a great time to revisit this classic visionary novel. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur C. Clarkeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oakes, TerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the still-unfolding memory
(13 July 1974-4 July 1977)

only perfect friend of a lifetime,
in whom were uniquely combined
Loyalty, Intelligence and Compassion.
When you radiant and living spirit
vanished from this world
the light went our of many lives.

First words
The crown grew heavier with each passing year.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Sri Kanda, the Sacred Mountain rising majestically above the equatorial island of Taprobane, bears silent witness to the hazardous lives of two obsessed men.
King Kalidasa, tyrant of the second century, murderous usurper of an ancient kingdom, sought to reach heaven by creating his lofty Pleasure Garden, with their towering fountains and the panorama of beautiful maidens. Two thousand years later, Vannervar Morgan, brilliant engineer of the twenty-second century, seeks to approach the stars through technological daring that will open a new era in space travel.
Each of these interweaving narratives is charged with surprise and suspense, laced with excitement and wry humor. Each of the protagonists comes within reach of his ambition - and pays for his triumph in a starling, compelling finale.
This saga, the most accomplished writing of an internationally famed storyteller, captures two worlds - one long past, based on the history and legend of Ceylon, the other a brilliant extension of scientific possibility and a luxury of imagination. Beneath the sweeping drama that dominates this tale lies a commentary on the human condition, with its yearnings and strivings, its fears and follies, its ultimate courage.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446677949, Paperback)

This Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel is reissued in this trade paperback edition. Vannemar Morgan's dream of linking Earth with the stars requires a 24,000-mile-high space elevator. But first he must solve a million technical, political, and economic problems while allaying the wrath of God. Includes a new introduction by the author.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

SCIENCE FICTION. In the 22nd century visionary scientist Vannevar Morgan conceives the most grandiose engineering project of all time, and one which will revolutionize the future of humankind in space: a Space Elevator, 36,000 kilometers high, anchored to an equatorial island in the Indian Ocean.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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