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.