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Fountains of Paradise [Hardcover]

Arthur Charles Clarke
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 1979
A science fiction novel first published in 1979.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st Book Club Associates edition (Jan 1979)
  • ISBN-10: 0151327734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151327737
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 581,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Somerset in 1917, Arthur C. Clarke has written over sixty books, among which are the science fiction classics 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End, The City and the Stars and Rendezvous With Rama. He has won all the most prestigious science fiction trophies, and shared an Oscar nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of the film of 2001. He was knighted in 1998. He died in 2008 at his home in Sri Lanka.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Originally The Fountains of Paradise was intended to be Arthur C. Clarke's last novel, before the author came out of "retirement" to pen 2010: Odyssey Two. It is also one of his best, and being set in a fictionalised version of Clarke's adopted home of Sri Lanka, one of his most personal. The story is based around the fantastical yet scientifically supportable idea of a "Space Elevator", a "tower" from the earth to geo-stationary orbit, 23 000 miles "high". The purpose is to make access to space routine, safe and cheap, and the 22nd century-set novel essentially follows Vannevar Morgan in his quest to complete this monumental project.

There are grand set-pieces worthy of the best adventure story, a generous scattering of fascinating speculations and observations and, of course, Clarke's famous eye for the epic vistas inherent in large-scale science fiction:

Slowly his eyes adapted, and in the depths of the mirror a faint red glow began to burn, and spread, and consume the stars. It grew brighter and brighter and flowed beyond the limits of the mirror; now he could see directly, for it extended halfway down the sky. A cage of light, with flickering, moving bars, was descending upon the earth.
As much the novel of a poet as that of a scientist, The Fountains of Paradise makes striking use of the sometimes haunting history of Sri Lanka, a device echoed by Kathleen Ann Goonan in her Hawaiian set novel, The Bones of Time. Anyone seriously interested in great science fiction should really have both these books in their collection. --Gary S. Dalkin --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

One of Clarke's most famous and acclaimed novels, winner of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I have read a few of A.C. Clarke's works now and unfortunately, for me at least, this isn't the best. Without spoiling the plot itself it's a well written account of how a space elevator would be constructed, woven around the ambitions of the central character. It's set in Clarke's take on Sri Lanka (which he expounds well at the end of the book) and as usual he counjours up his colourful and well furnished mental tapestries brilliantly. The only real problems for me were firstly that the central character, while not lacking depth, very much lacked likeability. This is always important for me in this type of fairly hard science sci-fi. Obviously this is just personal taste, though. The second problem and one that is not Clarke's fault is that I have only recently finished Green Mars, the second installment in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. Again this is a fairly hard science story but written in the earliy 90's much later than this. The first book (Red Mars) also includes an in depth account of space elevator construction and is obviously influenced by Clarke's work. This is not Clarke's fualt but my own. I've just had a belly full of the concept for now. I can fully inderstand how so many people can love this book. At the time it was written it was groundbreaking and if you haven't read much Clarke or sci-fi then you will probably love this. Don't let this review put you off anyway as this may be your cup of tea. It is certainly worth the reading effort and a must for the hardcore Clarke fan also. Personally, though, I preferred The City And The Stars.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and fascinating 21 April 2001
By A Customer
I love this book. It's a perfect demonstration that a novel can be exciting and enjoyable despite having no have detailed characters and not even a real plot. The book tells the tale of the building of a space elevator; characters appear and disappear and are purely functional; and Clarke describes events because they're interesting, not because they're 'essential' to the story. There's a brilliant passage about an alien space probe passing through the solar system, which has no relevance at all to the story, and yet is beautiful and engaging in its own right. What a strange, intriguing and amazing book. I read it when I was ten and I've never forgotten it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An engineers dream came true. 10 Nov 1999
By A Customer
I have always wanted to review a Sci-fi book, this one I have read twice. The idea at the core of the novel is the space elevator,a bridge to the stars if you like. If you lower a cable from geo-stationary orbit,and anchor it to the Earths surface,you could run a lift up and down, ferrying supplies into space. This, so Clarke points out,would be at a fraction of the cost of using conventional rockets,and space shuttles. The idea is not so preposterous as it first sounds. Indeed it is quite visonary. The chief character, is an engineer called Vanaveer Morgan. The novel takes place around the middle of the 22nd Century,and continues during The space elevators construction. Before our hero can begin building his ultimate bridge to space. (There is only one suitable site in the World. Clarke takes an artistic licence here,and moves his home island Cylon,onto the equator and re-names it Taprobane.) Morgan has to secure land rites of a sacred mountain. Which just happens to have a Buddist monestary on it. I will not reveal any more of the plot,as it gets quite interesting. However I do highly recomend this book. If you love Science fiction, you will certainly enjoy this book. It reads like it really is happening,and I suspect will one day be built. At the time Clarke wrote this novel there was no known material with the tensile strength,strong enough to build a space elevator. However that has changed now with the discovery of carbon 60.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously plausible prediction 5 April 2003
One of Clarke's running themes is that of Human Transcendence, a racial coming-of-age or puberty, during which we throw off the shackles of our irrational beliefs and, well, grow up.
'Childhood's End' saw the human race guided through this process by an ELDER RACE, while in '2001: A Space Oddity', a single human is transformed by an ELDER RACE and returned to Earth to do much the same thing. 'Fountains of Paradise' is as joyous as the aforementioned books and thought of by many as Clarke's best work.
The story follows engineer Vandevaar Morgan and his quest to build a space-elevator (see also Charles Sheffield's 'Web Between the Worlds' and Robinson's 'Red Mars'. Robinson named the termini of the elevator 'Clarke' and 'Sheffield' as a tribute to the authors of the earlier books) anchored on Earth on the equatorial island of Taprobane (based on Clarke's home of Sri Lanka).
It's interesting to note that in 1979 Clarke's boundless optimism leads him to believe that major religions will fall into decline. By the end of the book the Vatican is mentioned, in passing, as being virtually bankrupt.
Indeed, the concept of God is dealt a final lethal blow by information from a passing alien AI (representative of the obligatory ELDER RACE) which reduces religion to an aberrant condition common only to mammalian intelligent species and generally abandoned by those races at a particular level of social and scientific development.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Clarke book
I love the story and the fact its not just the usual 'in space' stuff. This book has long been my favourite Arthur C Clarke book and I am very pleased that its on Kindle at last. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Brewhexe
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring a wondrous sci-fi concept
After having read a time-travel classic (The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov) I've explored another enticing sci-fi concept, the space elevator. And Arthur C. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jorge Teixeira
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Fab great read classic and came in good condition. Would recomend read from Arthur C Clarke's great imagination ideal for a nice day off into escapism
Published 15 months ago by Autumn
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant visions, grounded in science and history
I read this book when it first appeared, many years back, and it inspired me with a desire to visit Sri Lanka one day, to see the places mentioned in the book. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by quillerpen
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly his best
All Arthur C Clarke's books have the same underlying theme (though in some books it is underlying more deeply than others). Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by Glenn Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Sci-Fi classic
Fountains of Paradise (S.F. Masterworks)Just as Arthur C Clarke predicted the communications satellite, in this book he postulates a space elevator as the method by which man will... Read more
Published on 10 May 2011 by Jaydax
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of vision
The physics of a possible space-elevator are certainly beyond me, and when Arthur tells me something is feasible based on scientific evidence I tend to take it on trust. Read more
Published on 28 April 2010 by C. JONES
3.0 out of 5 stars First time Clarke reader: ok but not overwhelming
The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

Even though I am a fairly frequent reader of Science Fiction since my teens (I could not get enough of Asimov's Foundations... Read more
Published on 18 Dec 2009 by Un francais en angleterre
4.0 out of 5 stars Wide-ranging in themes, good overall
This is quite typical of the Arthur C. Clarke style in that the main story is firmly rooted in science with a relatively near time horizon, compared with the SF works of many... Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2009 by John M
5.0 out of 5 stars the only book that ever made me cry!
The story is simple with the past interwoven into the present(near future) where a man is trying to build the biggest bridge ever - the space elevator. Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2007 by Mrs. K. E. Gregory
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