Book Review: The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

I moved to read this book after reading A Time Odyssey trilogy. It surprised me how much influence this book has had on the trilogy’s scientific concepts. If I’m honest, I felt a mixture of disappointment and excitement (very confusing; I know) as the trilogy and The Fountains of Paradise worlds weren’t connected. But that is beside the point as scientific concepts aren’t bound to one book. The Fountains of Paradise is a weird story. It combines cultural history, new tech, religion, and bureaucracy. If anyone would have said such a book existed, I wouldn’t have believed it to be possible. First of all who would publish such a book? And who would read it?

Weirdly enough the mixture worked. Sometimes it made the story progression slow, but I’m not sure if I minded. I liked the idea of one man quest to get a space elevator build. It is an interesting concept for a sci-fi book. My only complaint is that at times the story and characters felt too thin and meaningless as if the book was only a test if a space elevator could be built. And this thinness of the story was clear at the ending which was dissatisfactory. The ending felt cut short a chapter or two too early. But as a thought experiment, the book was marvelous. It took into account all the possible objections building a space elevator could have both location and human element-wise. It gave a picture of what kind of mind and a person is needed for the job to get such a massive project done despite the obstacles.

I’m not sure how to conclude this review. As a classical sci-fi enthusiast, I think this book is a must-read, but as someone who loves a good story (with a moral) and well-developed characters the book left me wanting more.

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