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Pillar to the Sky

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  535 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
From William Forstchen, the New York Times bestselling author of One Second After, comes Pillar to the Sky, a towering epic to rank with Douglas Preston's Blasphemy and Michael Crichton's Prey...

Pandemic drought, skyrocketing oil prices, dwindling energy supplies and wars of water scarcity threaten the planet. Only four people can prevent global chaos.

Gary Morgan—a bri
ebook, 400 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Tor Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,512)
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Celeste Batchelor
I debated hard about whether to give Pillar to the Sky 2 or 3 stars. The only reason why it gets 3 stars is because it was a clean read without much language, sex, or gore. The story line is a bit dry and choppy for me. There are sections that could have been great story line, but were just kind of glossed over. This book is not nearly as good as One Second After, although that one does have more language and gore.

I really did not buy into this story. I don't like some of the author's assumption
Kent Beck
Interesting idea poorly executed. Could have used more thorough editing.
This book is what The Fountains of Paradise would have been if Clarke had gotten his degree in economics instead of math and physics. And had never written a book before. Several themes are strong in the book, such as conspiracy theories by oil companies, global warming denial, the cold war, which is somehow still relevant in the 21st century, stereotyped female characters that cry all the time, and, most important (to the author, it seems) "disruptive technology".

The major premise of the book i
Nov 20, 2015 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, grown-up-books
This book was such a puzzle. Fascinating concept, building a sky elevator. But told in the most passive, dull, dry, summary style you can imagine. I stuck it out because I was interested in the concept of space elevators, plus I really really really adore the vocal narrator (Grover Gardener, who does all of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series, which you should totally listen to, totally.) I did at times find myself laughing at how obviously bad it was, though, and the poor editing. There we ...more
Dan Needles
Great subject, but very weak delivery.

Strategically the connections between the setting, plot, and character arcs are strained. The character arcs follow the relationship between two main characters with a mentor figure supervising their work. A lot of the action happens as reflections or indirectly. For example, there is a build up of the relationship between the two main characters until page 94. They kiss for the first time on page 95, live together, get married and have a child by the end of
Dec 25, 2014 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
"Pillar to the Sky" by William Forstchen is about building a space elevator. I started off thinking it would not be good but he surprised me. It turned out great.

The story: Two interns are working on a project together and they fall in love. The project is a space elevator and their dream captures the imagination of their professor and a financier. This thing gets built.

Any problems with this story? Well... it is straight forward. You know where this book is headed more or less and I thought tha
Marvin Mathiak
“Pillar to the Sky” is a 180 degree departure from “One Second After”. One Second After was a gripping, plausible scenario following a very real threat to our civilization. Pillar to the Sky is an attempt to combine a basic formula written thriller with science fiction. It is not successful.

This formula written thriller has all the required parts: incredibly wealthy man, brilliant and courageous women, one brilliant man, villains posing threats, and stream of situations threatening imminent disa
Feb 20, 2014 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm disappointed in this book. At times the plot was choppy and too simplistic. I di like the main character but she was not as well fleshed out as she could have been. I'm hoping that Mr. Forstchen's sequel to "One Second After" will be as good as the original. Although there could be a sequel to this book I doubt that I would be inrerested in reading it.
Wesley Miravete
Good storyline, but drawn out

I loved the idea of a tower to space. I personally enjoy space travel and topics related to it, so this book was one I thought I would enjoy. However, many scenes, especially the speeches and arguments were drawn out too long. The content too was also repeated several times over in these scenes, making reading tedious and boring.

Besides that, I think this book deserves 3/5 stars because it's closer to being really good than really bad. Most of the content in the book
I read and enjoyed Forstchen's book "One Second After," so of course I had to read his new book, and I liked this as well.

Pillar to the Sky is the story of the dream of several engineers and a visionary financial titan to build a ladder to space, which sounds far-fetched at first but becomes theoretically possible as the author goes into great depth expounding on all of the science in the book. In a way the book reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, and Hank Reardon's battle with those who
"Pillar to the Sky" a novel brought to you by Constance Demby. Yes, if you are in the market for spacy classical music, try Constance Demby. She's classicaltastic!

Conservative novelist Forstchen, who loves classical composer Constance Demby enough to mention her and her various albums 4 times during this sci-fi Icelandic saga-length tale, brings us a idyllic daydream about the human species getting its collective act together and aspiring to something besides being a "celewebrity " or having it

Jan 16, 2016 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed "One Second After" and "One Year After" but this was one LONG, dry read. There were certainly moments of excitement, awe, sadness, and bittersweet tears. However, there was also a lot of scientific jargon that simply flew over my head, paragraph after paragraph of explanation that seemed a bit much for this laywoman. Even the emotional moments went by with little fanfare since time jumps and scientific narratives soon followed. However, I did appreciate the connection to population sur ...more
Darren Vincent
Feb 14, 2015 Darren Vincent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

Is that a bad thing? Not really. Was this a good book? Well, I was entertained, but I didn't fly through it and it definitely wasn't a page-turner.

Lots of interesting science, which I love. I didn't understand it all but that was OK. The promise of the end-goal was enough to keep my reading but there were very few pages that left me wanting more or compelling me to get one more page in before I turned in for the day. The characters were well written but not 100% gro
Der Roman handelt vom Bau eines Weltraumfahrstuhls, der durch eine Reihe charismatischer Figuren (ein NASA-Wissenschaftlerpaar und ihre agile Tochter und ein Milliardär vom Schlage eines Elon Musk oder Steve Jobs) über alle Hindernisse hinweg durchgezogen wird.
Der Ton des Romans überwiegt durch Emotionen, da ist der erneute Aufbruch der Wissenschaft und Technologie aus einer dystopischen Trübnis, besonders als Beispiel des Niedergangs der NASA und deren Aufbruch im Laufe der Handlung, ab
Lee Gibson
It's good. Fun ideas about space elevators. I hadn't really considered how deadly a carbon nanotube filament would be...gonna have to figure that out before we can make the stuff by the mile.

The author unashamedly admires the robber barons of 19th and 20th century, but for me the financial visionary in this book (Franklin Smith) is very different from real-life robber barons. Although he's a very sharp dealer, and (shall we say) aggressively manages the data he provides to his investors, he trea
Jun 02, 2014 Cam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sci-fi
I had to start skimming this one to finish it; not much to the plot or much in the way of interesting characters to keep interest up. The premise had been handled before as other reviewers have noted and it needs serious editing. I don't know why it was published now that I think about it. Was going to add to my "dnf" list, but gave it a second shot for a poolside read and it never caught on.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 09, 2014 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A modern update to the space elevator idea. The author was clearly influenced by Clarke's earlier book from the late 70's. This book is more immediate and gives you the sense that the technical obstacles are not impossible to overcome and in deed a space elevator could really be built. It's primary benefit would be massive collection of solar energy. I found it to be a compelling idea. However, the author has would I would consider to be a unrealistic view of government. His view of US history i ...more
I really enjoyed Forstchen's "One Second After", and while "Pillar to the Sky" is good, it's not the same. The tone of "Pillar" is much more optimistic instead of apocalyptic. If a one word theme had to be picked for "Pillar", I would say 'hope'. It is a hopeful book, and is not shy about it. I read it, and wanted to be hopeful that someday something like a space elevator will be built, but especially with election insanity going on here in the US, I realize it will never happen in my lifetime. ...more
Aug 11, 2014 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is OK, not great. I try to keep up on science, at a relatively layperson level and had read about the possibility of a space elevator. When I saw this book, I was interested in it for that reason. And I did learn quite a bit about how one would be built. I was disappointed, however, in that this book seemed to be more of a political commentary than a fiction book. I found the story repetitive, probably so that more political commentary could be included. There is not very much action s ...more
Dave Handelsman
Sep 15, 2014 Dave Handelsman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent enough scifi book. Did a good job of capturing the politics and economics of "big" projects (like a space elevator), and does make me wonder if it's possible to really accomplish multi-year, multi-billion dollar projects anymore in the US --- there are so many obstacles, and most of them aren't related to technology.

The book points how the private sector might be able to do this, but has the incredibly annoying habit of making clear references to real 21st century businessmen and celebrit
Nov 14, 2014 Luigi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The human element was pretty good, was a pretty good read, but I found the mix of comments about dated movies, TV shows, music etc to be incongruous with the SciFi setting. I suspect that the author is an older baby boomer, nothing wrong with that, but if it were me I would have got some advice from someone in their late teens as to what they though future technology would be like and get similar quotes of shows, entertainers etc that were a bit less dated. On the one hand you're using an iPad, ...more
Bob Lee
Jul 22, 2014 Bob Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space
I had mixed feelings about this novel. The science about space elevators seemed well researched, and the beginning was interesting as it flipped back and forth in time. There were many believable elements such as Senators nixing the space elevator project and pulling NASA funding (as happens today) while private entrepreneurs decide to take on the risk.

However, there were a lot of weepy speeches and long nostalgic pages which I found a bit tedious, especially in the last third of the novel. The
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review can be read at Layers of Thought.

A science fiction novel that revolves around a seemingly fantastic concept – a space elevator that reaches from the equator to geosynchronous orbit and will help to solve many of the world’s problems. The technology is based on reasonable extrapolations of today’s science.

Description: The earth is beset by a range of seemingly unsolvable issues that spell future disaster – environmental crises abound, oil supplies are dwindling causing oil prices
Kat  Hooper
Jun 09, 2014 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

While reading William R. Forstchen’s Pillar to the Sky, I kept thinking this is what would have happened if, back in the 1960’s, NASA had commissioned Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein to co-write a story that would get Americans excited about space exploration… and then forgot to send it to an editor. Pillar to the Sky has an exciting premise and an appealing nostalgic feel, but it’s marred by some annoying ed
Mark Schulz
Jan 08, 2015 Mark Schulz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading some hard science fiction, I am not a fan of fantasy. I got this as an Audible book and read it on the drive to visit my dad 2 hours away; it certainly kept me engaged over the long, boring drive each week. The science was near future, the plot okay, the characters painted in black and white, I.e., totally good or bad, which I would rather we get to see some of the other side of their character. The whole premise is fascinating. A good read for hard science fiction fans.
I thought that this book fell short. I will write more at a later time.

The take home message concerned the idea of Disruptive Technologies and how in a Dystopian Society... all forces will converge to prevent innovation that relates to sustainable energy for the entire planet... which in turn would make fossil fuel based energy usage void. The reality is that the idea of money is strongly connected to the utilization of oil.
ew norris
Jan 12, 2015 ew norris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I had to give up on this one just because I couldn't stand the characters... in fact, I will not be able to write sarcastically enough to convey my distaste for the the Morgan trio. Gary is a brilliant renegade scientist, Eva is a brilliant beautiful scientist, and Victoria is a brilliant renegade of brilliant beauty. They were just too annoying to get into the book. I really had to dig deep when the doctor who is delivering the Parkinson's diagnosis can see that here are two people who are more ...more
Jeff Waters
If you liked The Martian, you will likely enjoy Pillar to the Sky.

Where The Martian might have gotten mired in too many techy details for the non-engineer, Pillar tamps that down a bit. As a former 90s Engineering student, I can confirm that Forstchen got a lot right.

The technology idea is intriguing and reasonably backed up. The story dragged at times, though. I thought some of the characters were well developed... but, for no ultimate purpose.

I would have preferred this story to be squeezed in
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William R. Forstchen (born 1950) is an American author who began publishing in 1983 with the novel Ice Prophet. He is a Professor of History and Faculty Fellow at Montreat College, in Montreat, North Carolina. He received his doctorate from Purdue University with specializations in Military History, the American Civil War and the History of Technology.

Forstchen is the author of more than forty boo
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