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Summary

In the 22nd century visionary scientist Vannevar Morgan conceives the most grandiose engineering project of all time, and one which will revolutionise the future of humankind in space: a Space Elevator, 36,000 kilometres high, anchored to an equatorial island in the Indian Ocean.

©1979 Arthur C. Clarke (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd

What listeners say about The Fountains of Paradise

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Arthur C Clarke at his best

Fantastic story fantastically read. One of the best audio books I have listened to. And I've listened to a lot!

21 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Disapointing

Well, I bought this because of all the rave reviews here. I'm about 5 chapetrs in and I'm finding it a bit dull - waiting for the history lesson to end and the science fictory story to begin.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Inspired idea, uninspiring story

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I don't think it works very well as a novel, but would work wonderfully as a speculative schematic - something along the lines of the Haynes Manual for the Death Star, but more serious, with loads of diagrams and some (optional) mathematics, and materials science that compares what's currently available with what's needed.

(Obviously this wouldn't work as an audiobook.)

But as a novel it's not so successful. We have a central idea which is simply brilliant, but what to do with it? So we get an account of the problems, solutions, setbacks and successes of building a space elevator. This is padded out with speculations that were probably radical at the time (why oh why didn't I read the paperback when I bought it back in 1980?) but are now so dated they aren't even quaint.

I've come to believe that space travel is ten times harder than the most pessimistic estimates, and Clarke was one of the most optimistic. Which was fair enough at the time - the Moon landings and Skylab were still fairly recent, we'd had probes send pictures back from the surface of Mars and Venus, close-up views of Jupiter (and Saturn in the near future), and a space shuttle under development.

But I've worked in engineering since I devoured Clarke's key works, and whenever a character announces they are ahead of schedule or under budget or that a material performs better than expected, it rings a false note for me.

Furthermore, Clarke tends to populate his novels with rather similar people. In Fountains, he sort of anticipates the internet troll, but doesn't consider that the technology will be available to everyone, including people who tend to favour foaming-at-the-mouth rage over friendly and intelligent jibing..

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending proper was surprisingly moving, considering the characters were mainly talking heads. That was followed by an epilogue which was pleasant enough, but only tenuously (or perhaps thematically) linked to the main story - which is fine as the prologue can be similarly described.

What about Mike Grady’s performance did you like?

He read clearly, and made some effort to differentiate voices.

Could you see The Fountains of Paradise being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Yes - I just hope it doesn't turn into the desperate snorefest that was Childhood's End.

Any additional comments?

I'm pleased to see Charles Sheffield's take on the same idea, The Web Between The Worlds, is also available from Audible. I will be interesting to compare the two, given that they both came out the same year.

21 people found this helpful

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true science-fiction

Morgan, as a character, was very enjoyable. His determination and talent in the story made him feel like someone that really would exist. The niggling idea that his only legacy would be the Gibraltar Bridge eventually led him to restart the space lift project. The engineering and physics side to the story were very enjoyable too, as was the conflict between religion & spiritual life and progress. Overall it is well worth a listen.

6 people found this helpful

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A truly accomplished novel, brilliant!

If you could sum up The Fountains of Paradise in three words, what would they be?

Big, bold and Brilliant!

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are a few likable characters in this book, however the protagonist, Morgan steals the show. Clarke managers to make me feel for this person and ultimately further invest my emotions into the story and where it may lead.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The building of the space elevator was among many scenes in this book that are truly brilliant in scope. The ending was also unexpected and equally excellent.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

One step to the stars.

Any additional comments?

Would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction as much as me.

13 people found this helpful

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Not his best

This is the first Arthur C. Clarke book I've 'read' for over a decade - I used to be his No. 1 fan. Maybe my memory's playing tricks but this seemed much more of a hotch-potch than many of his others I've encountered. As usual it's populated with many Clarke-style insights (including the space elevator at the centre of the story), some of which have become everyday reality since it was written - can't blame him for being prescient or unveiling his ideas with a creator's glee. But I found the early part of the storyline confusing and a bit whimsical - maybe it's harder for a British person to assimilate un-British names and places when they're spoken rather than read on a printed page? Some of the characters in the present or future history parts also seemed to be there simply to populate the background, rather than to play any particular role. A slight grumble about the narration, too, as the hero Morgan seemed to have a South African accent rather than the required Australian one. Added to which, spoken chapter numbers didn't tally with the on-screen ones (or vice versa) after about Chapter 17, which made finding a particular place trickier than it should have been. So overall, a bit of a disappointment - but not time wasted.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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slow ambling story

a slow ambling story that is more used to set up the concept of a tower to space than provide entertainment I think. but still good

3 people found this helpful

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Good book if a little unexciting,

Not a huge number of twists and turns so a little dull but an interesting idea of how the first space elevator will be built

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointingly boring

I was looking forward to this, and waited for ages for something, anything, to happen, but it never does.
Years pass in the story with huge time jumps in between and nothing seems to happen.
There is so much possibility with some of the story threads but they’re all dead ends.
It’s just disappointing and boring and not up to A C Clarke’s usual standards.

1 person found this helpful

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boring

struggled to finish, nothing good to say about it.
felt like a construction site meeting.

1 person found this helpful