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The Fountains of Paradise

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  28,482 ratings  ·  806 reviews
This Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel is reissued in this trade paperback edition. Vannemar Morgan's dream of linking Earth with the stars requires a 24,000-mile-high space elevator. But first he must solve a million technical, political, and economic problems while allaying the wrath of God. Includes a new introduction by the author. ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Aspect (first published 1979)
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Alger Smythe-Hopkins Whoa Noura.

You will have to give us a lot more information about what you are looking for, not just a statement that "I just find difficulty finding …more
Whoa Noura.

You will have to give us a lot more information about what you are looking for, not just a statement that "I just find difficulty finding useful sources for my argument", and then never tell us what the argument is. And I am more than a little offended by your claims of expertise and deep research in your responses to Zina, who was asking reasonable questions that address exactly what I would want to know. Even after reading that exchange I have to admit that I remain completely baffled by what you are asking us to recommend. Why would you want other sci-fi authors reflecting on this novel? You use some buzz words like 'analyze this novel', but to what purpose and with what frame? Is this a theory driven thesis? or are you writing a literature review?

Now before you start sh*tposting at me too, let me credential myself. I hold a doctorate and am a former academic and really I think you owe Zina a debt of gratitude for taking your question more seriously than you did. I read your original question and assumed that you were one of those students who expects other people to do their school work, right down to writing it for them. If all you want is commentary from authors on this novel, the solution is so obvious that I am still baffled about what you are asking us to do for you. Look, the entire novel is about space travel, the author was a giant in the genre, and it won major awards. So with that in mind you could go to Argosy or other sci-fi mag of the period to get critical reviews by sci-fi authors who would have to at least mention space travel. Another obvious tack would be to perform what we in the research business like to call "an internet search".

You never did answer what about a novel written more than four decades ago is so "new" that you can't find academic sources.
I suspect you are really bad a research if you couldn't find that in six months. It took me two minutes.

Anyway, chin-chin and if you do still want/need help with this, try reframing your request as an actual question that we can answer.(less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sfmasterworks, scifi
SF Masterworks #34 - Clarke does it again! This is the third SFmasterworks by him I have read, and once again I was totally immersed in a future reality that was so complete, so real, so well thought out.. so good!

Visionary engineer Vannevar Morgan wants to build a 'space elevator' that would enable very affordable transport of cargo into space and beyond. For any normal writer that's enough of a story, but Clarke adds in complications of political considerations, a historic site, religion and p
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
First published in 1979, Fountains of Paradise is one of Grandmaster Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s later books, but in its themes and style is reminiscent of some of his best work.

Telling the story of an elevator into space, this also describes a flashback related story thousands of years earlier as a Sri Lankan king builds a palace high on the mountain top. Both celestial projects stretch the limits of human achievement and engineering ability and Clarke’s unique talent ties the two stories together.


Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.

This is the reading list that follows the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I loved reading the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners so I'm going to crack on with the Hugo winners next (but only the post-1980 winners, I'll follow up w
Jun 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I was disappointed in this book, though I confess that part of it is my fault. Clarke didn't tell the story that I wanted him to tell, and this is always an unfair expectation on the part of the reader. "If you want a particular story, you should write it yourself." is the rightful reply of the writer. But I'm only human, and when I get figs when I was expecting chocolate, I'm disappointed (even if I like figs, which I do).

'The Fountains of Paradise' is about mankind's first attempt to construct
Timothy Urgest
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vannevar Morgan, the Chief Engineer of the Terran Construction Corporation, dreams of building a bridge that links Earth to the stars. The “space elevator” is preferable over rocket travel because it is less expensive and less damaging to the environment.

A mountain on the island of Taprobane is the only location capable of holding the elevator, and that location is currently inhabited by Buddhist monks that have no desire to leave. Morgan must convince or coerce the monks to leave in order to f
4.5 to 5.0 stars. Definitely one of Clarke's best novels, which is saying something given his tremendous body of work. The novel, as most of Clarke's work, was respectful of the scientific basis required for the story but never let itself get bogged down in overly long technical explanations. A superb story that once again reaffirms that man can do just about anythign if he sets his mind to it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1980)
Winner: Nebula Award for B
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Space Elevators. Elevators that take people from the surface of Earth all the way across thousands of kilometers to orbit.

Sounds fun yeah?

Not to me.

To me it sounds like spending twenty hours packed into a crowded and fart-infused metal room, trying to avoid eye contact while enduring an unending audio loop of Top Twenty Chart Hits - Pan Pipe Interpretations.

Yet while the term 'Space Elevator' doesn't exactly drip with excitement, Clarke, in his skilled way, spins an engaging and entertaining (if
Althea Ann
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When I was a kid, Arthur C. Clarke's 'The Fountains of Paradise' was one of my favorite books. I must've read it more than half a dozen times, checking it out from the library. The book has to do with the creation of a space elevator, and though I haven't read it, now, in over 30 years, I remember it dealing beautifully and sensitively with the conflicts between traditionalism and social and technological progress. It follows one scientist's 'impossible dream' to fulfillment, and although the en ...more
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Arthur C. Clarke once wrote a rather dull short story, which just happened to suggest the idea of geostationary satellites over 20 years before there were any. This is a rather dull novel, which presents a detailed plan for building a space elevator.

Well, I hope history repeats itself...
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly breathtaking work of speculative fiction; the scenes set 400km above the Earth's surface actually triggered my vertigo at one point! Clarke's imagination is nothing less than visionary, all the moreso as it is based in real hard science. Astonishing and highly recommended to fans of hard SF (the climax might even appeal to the Space Opera crowd). ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, sci-fi
Where I've recently read one or two Hugo-winning novels recently that I may or may not have exactly wished were winners, I have no qualms in announcing that this 1980 winner is a real winner.

It's a true pleasure to read on several levels. While the official "story" sometimes feels a bit tacked on and ethereal, the themes and the characters and the science is all top-shelf goodness.

The themes and feels are well known for fans of A. C. Clarke. He has a serious devotion to space elevators, the redu
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been a sci-fi fan from as far back as I can remember and I've read the major works of most of the better authors over the years. However, I bought this book years ago and, for some reason, it's sat languishing on my bookshelves, unread and getting dustier by the year. The book won the two major sci-fi awards, the Hugo and the Nebula, back when it was published in 1979, but the cover blurb never grabbed my interest enough to read it over the years.

So I finally got around to reading it and w
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where should I start, If I could give it 4.5 stars I would, I really enjoyed the book, and after labouring for a month on my previous book, zipped through this (despite there still being sport on English TV).
I haven't read an A C Clarke book for a few years and this book just reminded me why I like him so much as an author, and why I have so many of his books (to re-read, OMG when will I get the time).
His descriptive powers are superb and I defy you not to be transferred to Taprobane, or to see
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven"
Hmm... not an entirely appropriate Led Zep reference I suppose but I got to start the review somewhere, and the phrase "Stairway to heaven" does appear in the book, but regrettably not the guitar solo.

It is quite often pleasant to go into a book without knowing anything about it. Not exactly the case with this one, I knew it is about space elevators, it's not exactly an obscure book by an unknown author
if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com

.??? childhood: The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

i remember this book as a kid, i think i got it hardcover through science fiction book club, but have read it at least 3 times as an adult (since 17). this is a comforting, engaging, typically arthur c clarke future: conflict is between man capital M and the constraints of the universe- and incidentally, of course, the religious forces- but science trumps them all. sf
Roman Kurys
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a boring book. Solid, as far as the story and writing goes, yes, which is why the 3 stars and not 2. (Although if we’re really honest, it’s more like a 2.5 stars). Boring nonetheless.

Phew. With that off my chest, I can now attempt to coherently talk about the rest of it. Hindsight is 20/20, and now I feel that this is probably not the best book to start discovering Arthur C. Clarke. Yes, I am saying I have not read anything by him before. Space Odyssey or RAMA books might have been a b
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a classic SF novel by Arthur C. Clarke. published in 1979, it won both Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as was nominated for Locus. I read is as a part of monthly reading for November 2020 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group.

I actually read a Russian translation of this novel around 1988-1990 in the magazine Техника-молодежи. It was a rare case of a relatively new Anglophone SF (the translated abridged version was published in 1980) – both censorship and desire not to pay author’s
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, classics
The Fountains of Paradise was a fun book to read. I was grabbed by the fact it’s a Hugo and Nebula Award winning novel and that the whole basis for the book is about building an elevator into space. The only problem was that the only great location for this “elevator” was on an island inhabited by Buddhist monks who lived there for more than three thousand years.

I really liked the line “I’ve always wanted,’ he said dreamily, ‘to know exactly what would happen when an irresistible force meets an
J.M. Hushour
Aug 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ever-reliable Clarke dishes up another humble sci-fi classic with this tale of a guy who decides to build a giant space elevator from Earth into high geosynchronous orbit.
Sounds crazy, right? So thinks everyone in the novel, but the actual science is sound and so Vannevar Morgan, the wacko architect/engineer struggles against doubters, recalcitrant monks on the mountaintop he wants to use for the Earth base of the tower (on a thinly-disguised Ceylon), journalists, and politicians to make hi
This is a story of how a futuristic, modern wonder of the world came into being. Of how political, religious, technical and sometimes life threatening problems were overcome in order to make one man's dream happen.

Arthur C. Clarke is a kind of luke warm author for me. I've never read anything of his that has set me on fire but I haven't hated anything either. This book is no exception. At times I felt quite engaged and at others I felt like I wish it would just get on with it.

I'm coming to the c
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover, b-c
Fountains of Paradise

After reading the first few chapters, I forgot that it was an A. C. Clarke novel that I held in my hands. It felt more like something from Poul Anderson or Robert Silverberg - Kings, princes in an exotic subtropical landscape and such... However, by the second half of the novel, the lengthy talk of the building of a tower or space elevator or vertical bridge or stairway to heaven, it was clear that this was what I expected from a typical Clarke novel.

I read somewhere that th
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I didn't expect to like this. Space elevators, yawn.

The setting, in Sri Lanka, with the historic temple/kingdom/gardens - first of all I can't believe that place exists. But it does.

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And then somehow it is the only appropriate place to build a space elevator. The story goes backwards and forwards in time. It triggered my imagination like when I was young!

ETA: We discussed this on the SFF Audio Podcast.
David (דוד)
1.66 stars

Such a boring book by Arthur C. Clarke. It reminded me of his other book A Fall of Moondust, which had likewise nothing much, yet was better than this one for me. This book had a decent start, but somehow failed to keep me in grasp, and it just kept dragging, and me waiting for it to somehow end. My actual rating is 1-star. But the extra star comes from rounding up from the extra points I had to provide for the location in the story, and for its slight historical background.
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Solid 3.5 for me. Really enjoyed the grand scope of it all and the single minded vision of Morgan V. Quite a tale to follow from inception to end. Space elevators are awesome.

First read: 23.11.17
Bought: Google Play Store
Sep 03, 2021 rated it liked it
It's often interesting reading/listening to older Sci-fi novels, this one from 1979. This was entertaining but not much more then that. I enjoy Arthur C Clarke ways of weaving a story though ...more
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Embarrassing enough, this book is what inspired me to persure engineering. It's a fun story of an engineer's attempts to "elevate" humanity. ...more
Kat  Hooper
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The latest scheme dreamed up by Dr. Vannevar Morgan, a materials engineer, is either pure genius or pure crackpot: He wants to build an elevator to space. He's discovered a new material that he thinks is strong enough to withstand the gravitational and climatic forces that would act on such a structure and he's found the only place on Earth where it's possible to achieve his dream: the top of the mountain Sri Kanda on the equatorial island of Taprobane (pr
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The basic plot of The Fountains of Paradise can be summed up with two words: space elevator. Yes, it's something of an architectural procedural, and much of the story is taken up with the events of the project lead (Vannevar Morgan) to get the thing started. Luckily, this is also terribly interesting, far more so than I ever would have guessed. Morgan wants to build his elevator on the fictional island of Sri Kanda (essentially Sri Lanka moved to the equator), but there's the small problem of an ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This was one of the first science fiction books I remember reading that I could see the possibility of something which (at that time) seemed impossible. Faster-than-light travel, teleporters, electromagnetic artificial gravity--all staples of Star Trek--seemed implausible to me then. But a geosynchronous space elevator made me pause. This was before buckminsterfullerene had been developed, so diamond cables seemed a leap--but, again, a plausible leap.

The actual story was lost in my memory, other
Nutshell: earthlings begin building skyhook, aliens show up, aliens go away, earthlings finish skyhook, yay!

Nifty parallel drawn between ancient monument builders and scifi megastructures through the use of an ancient Sri Lankan legend (or what purports to be, anyway). Lotsa technical detail. Whatever. Best parts of the book are the political interactions between interest groups regarding obstacles to building the space elevator. The main one, set up as structural to the narrative early on--reli
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Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of

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