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The Fountains Of Paradise (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 12 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (12 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857987217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857987218
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,495 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

Book Description

One of Clarke's most famous and acclaimed novels, winner of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By mrfrostylee on 28 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Myers on 15 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
All Arthur C Clarke's books have the same underlying theme (though in some books it is underlying more deeply than others). The theme is 'Science, not religion, is the true locus for transcendence and wonder'. This theme is explicit in The Fountains of Paradise when a great mechanical elevator to the stars supplants an ancient religious stronghold and one chapter ends with this memorable summary of the religious point of view: 'the billions of words of pious gibberish with which apparently intelligent men had addled their minds for centuries.'

I think this is Clarke's most personal book. Set in the fictional land of Taprabone, which is about 90% Sri Lanka according to the author, it's rich and vivid with detail about the land that he adopted as his home. It also comes as near as Clarke ever came to describing his personal life, the transcendent joy he felt while diving, weightless, adrift from all his worries; the being carried around the house by his personal staff. (Clarke suffered from polio and was wheelchair-bound for many years.)

Clarke is not at is best when describing politics and world affairs in his envisioned 22nd century. He is at his brilliant best when he is describing people in their battles with the laws of physics, and with technological dreams, and with envisioning alien life. This book starts in his weaker area but ends in his strongest. I think Rendezvous with Rama was better; but this is one of his best, and certainly his most revealing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. JONES on 28 April 2010
Format: Paperback
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. What I do understand are the human and spiritual sides of Arthur's novels. I like the way he addresses the religion issue. The future of human faith is very much at the centre of his work, albeit founded on the bedrock of scientific advances.

The society we encounter in this book seems to espouse high levels of nobility and self-sacrifice. We do not experience criminality or self-interest to any great extent in the characters. In a more mainstream novel this might be seen as a weakness, but in Arthur's case we may prefer to view this as aspirational. Life isn't like this - yet - but wouldn't it be great if it was? For comparison purposes, the book includes flashbacks to the ancient civilization that stood on the site of the proposed space-elevator.

Like much of Arthur's science fiction (I'm thinking of the Space Odyssey novels particularly), this is very much a projection of the very best possible future for mankind, and the hopes expressed certainly lend a poetic quality to his stories.

The captivating simplicity of this novel's central theme is its chief strength. It is not a particularly fast-moving story, yet Vannevar Morgan's ultimate goal of creating a ride to the stars in a lift is such a stunning notion that you want to know everything about it.

There is a school of thought that says that science fiction can never be described as "literature". I am less certain, particularly in the case of Arthur's works. I believe time will be kind to them, and they may even end up as staples of the English Lit syllabus in more enlightened times to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Teixeira on 11 July 2013
Format: Paperback
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. Clarke does a fantastic job (as usual) in explaining all the intricacies of building such a technological wonder. For those not familiar with it, a space elevator is basically a cable that stretches from an earth base to a space base in geosynchronous orbit around our planet. It is not difficult to understand the tremendous benefits such a construction would provide to space exploration, as ferrying cargo to space and back would be a much simpler business. One especially interesting thing that Arthur C. Clarke points out is the efficiency of such a system, energy wise. In fact, much of the energy spent would be recovered with the breaking system when the elevator returned to earth!
In Fountains of Paradise we accompany this engineering (and also political) endeavor with Vannevar Morgan, while digging deep into a Taprobane origins (a fictional country very much resembling Clark's home of Sri Lanka). While Clark wanders a bit here and there, the end result is a beautiful sci-fi tale, very well seasoned with physics, mysticism and politics. Like many of Clarke's other books, he manages to make such an advanced structure a plausible feat in the years to come. Let's hope so!
After some thought I'll give it a solid 4, out of 5.
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