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The Fountains Of Paradise (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Arthur C. Clarke
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Oct 2000 S.F. MASTERWORKS
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 of space: a Space Elevator, 36,000 kilometres high, anchored to an equatorial island in the Indian Ocean.

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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 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,390 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring a wondrous sci-fi concept 11 July 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
In this novel, Clarke combined his love of science with the love of the country he had come to call home. The idea of the space elevator is firmly based on hard physics (no transporter beams or other flights of fancy!).
I love the way that Clarke has interweaved the modern with the past. In the opening chapter, with the king in his palace and the monks on their mountain he conveys the timelessness and depth of history that Sri Lanka (thinly disguised as Taprobane for the novel) has to offer.
Even after many readings I can never read the passage where Morgan encounters the butterflies on the mountain without getting a shiver up my spine.
And last year I achieved my ambition to visit Sigiriya (the real-life Yakkagala) and see the places mentioned in the story for myself. Like the novel, they did not disappoint.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly his best 15 Mar 2012
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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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 7 months ago by Brewhexe
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 14 months ago by Autumn
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously plausible prediction
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... Read more
Published on 5 April 2003 by Rod Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars The Master -- A great read
Arthur C. Clarke is a name that is up there with the Sci-fi greats. This book is a fine example of why. Read more
Published on 7 July 2001
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