Jim O'Loughlin's Reviews > The Fountains of Paradise

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
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Jan 01, 2012

did not like it

Because of the project I'm working on, I was obligated to read Clarke's 1978 clunker, The Fountains of Paradise. The glue binding on the novel had broken down and I had to keep the whole thing together with a rubber band, which is a pretty apt metaphor for reading this novel.

This is exactly the kind of book that made the Cyberpunk movement a historical necessity. Clarke follows a myopic engineer, Morgan, who wants to follow up a successful bridge project with a space elevator. We are supposed to admire the protagonist's intelligence and tenacity, even though his closest emotional relationship is with a futuristic yo-yo he carries around. Really, no joke. Other characters appear in the novel, but Morgan doesn't really care about them. He shuns a female reporter who seems kind of interested in him and in the novel's big finish he forgets that his nephew (who, of course, worships him) is visiting. In the end, it's his yo-yo that he can really count on.

But, okay, I get that Clarke is more of a big picture writer and I shouldn't look to him for something as mundane as interesting characters. But the whole first two-thirds of the novel is about the politics of getting the project approved, and then the rest of it is about construction. We don't actually see how the elevator functions except for a tacked on afterword where all of humanity has escaped an ice age to live on a ring of space elevators around the planet. Apparently, moving the entire Earth's population went off without a hitch.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Derek (new)

Derek Are there crappy space elevator music in space elevators? How uncomfortable would a packed space elevator ride be? How do you fix a broken space elevator? Are all space elevators named Otis? So many questions... Here's to hoping your work is far more interesting!


Saifullah Shaikh You forgot the most important question of all - what happens if someone farts in one of these things?


message 3: by Xeldrak (last edited Oct 23, 2013 10:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Xeldrak Your're not supposed to admire Morgen. You're supposed to admire the actual main character: The space elevator!

Anyways - a fair negative review. Clarke has a rather polarizing style of writing. You either love it or hate it, at least thats my experience.


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