The Fountains of Paradise

{4/5} “Even now, it was impossible to realize the full meaning of the coming revolution. For the first time, space itself  would become as accessible as any point on the surface of the familiar earth. In a few more decades, if the average man wanted to spend a weekend on the moon, he could afford to do so. Even Mars would not be out of the question. There were no limitations to what might now be possible.”

Vannevar Morgan was the engineer responsible for the Gibraltar Bridge. Now he’s come up with an even more audacious plan — a space elevator. It will be more cost efficient than rockets at lifting people and goods into space. Of course, there are a few problems to overcome before it gets built — engineering problems, political problems, and even religious problems. Meanwhile, a robotic spaceship from an alien race passes through the solar system.

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke was published in 1979. I read it once before but it was about 25 years ago.

When this book was written the idea of a space elevator was relatively new and it made sense to focus a story on it. Now the idea is presented matter-of-factly in such books as The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski and 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.

The combination of science and politics reminds me most of Robinson.

The space elevator is a mind boggling concept — of course, it’s closer to being a realistic possibility now than when Clarke wrote this book.

It’s about the wonder of technology that gets us closer to the stars. It’s a good book but not quite a great one.

I’ve read several of Clarke’s books. My favourite I’ve read recently is The City and the Stars. Longer ago I read and enjoyed the novels Childhood’s End and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the collections Expedition to Earth and Nine Billion Names of God, and the nonfiction 1984: Spring — A Choice of Futures.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 3:47 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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