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The Fountains of Paradise

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  25,002 ratings  ·  632 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.
Kindle Edition, Arthur C. Clarke Collection, 317 pages
Published November 30th 2012 by RosettaBooks (first published 1979)
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Zina Taran What do you mean, "new"? Have you even done any research? I would recommend you do the research the way your teachers tell you.…moreWhat do you mean, "new"? Have you even done any research? I would recommend you do the research the way your teachers tell you. (less)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1979, Fountains of Paradise is one of Grandmaster Sir Arthur C. Clarkes 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 Clarkes 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 Ive 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 with
Jun 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Urges
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
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
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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...
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, science
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
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Paul E. Morph
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).
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Roman Kurys
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 were really honest, its 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
.??? 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 as engineering fiction written by engineers for engineers. something
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
The Fountains of Paradise was a fun book to read. I was grabbed by the fact its 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 Ive always wanted, he said dreamily, to know exactly what would happen when an irresistible force meets an
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
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.
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sara J. by: Joint Hugo-Nebula Award Winner
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Kat  Hooper
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with some fascination with science
Embarrassing enough, this book is what inspired me to persure engineering. It's a fun story of an engineer's attempts to "elevate" humanity.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book in many ways, not all of them rational perhaps. Now, I didnt read every single book on earth, so its a bit of a bold statement, maybe, but to me, this is one of the most unique experiences I ever had the pleasure to make with an artifact of ink and paper.

Its more than a story. Its a love letter to engineering and Sri Lanka, to the dreams dreamed by people with extraordinary passion for what they do. There are no clumsy attempts at creating something palatable for a wide
Jan 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Engineers, monks, old men who retire to Sri Lanka
There are some great authors I am just never going to love, and Arthur C. Clarke is one of them. This Hugo-winning 1979 novel helped popularize the "space elevator" that has been reused many times in science fiction (though I don't think Clarke actually invented the idea). Last I heard, an actual space elevator is still considered to be barely more feasible than a generation ship - something we might theoretically be capable of building, but with any foreseeable technology, completely ...more
Mike Moore
An interesting exploration of the tension between artistic/technological ambition and sociopolitical practicality.

It's interesting to compare this to the Mars trilogy by Robinson, a conscious attempt to recreate Clarke's style which revisits a lot of the same themes and ideas of this book. While I didn't much care for "Red Mars", I quite liked this book. Clarke has a remarkable ability to blend his extrapolations with, not just action, but genuinely interesting storylines and characters.

Ben Loory
I never really like Arthur C. Clarke books, but I always like Arthur C. Clarke. There's a warmth and a hope to his relentless rationality, a kind of calm, dis/believing center to his scientific outlook, which I find charming even while his stories usually plod slowly and relentlessly onward, eventually boring the shit out of me. This whole book comes down to an aging scientist with a heart condition attempting to disengage a really heavy battery from the underside of a stuck elevator. Which ...more
Jennifer Ochoa
DNF. I keep trying to find the Clarke I fell in love with, when I read 2001 (and subsequent books in that series), but I'm beginning to think that Stanley Kubrick's influence on the novel (the movie and novel were created in parallel) is really what I fell in love with.

Got 50% through and just didn't feel *anything* for the book. Dry sci-fi. It reminds me of his Rama series, but without the human element that allowed me to push through.
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke 21 100 Nov 06, 2015 01:39PM  

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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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