Read Las fuentes del paraíso by Arthur C. Clarke Free Online
Book Title: Las fuentes del paraíso|
The author of the book: Arthur C. Clarke
Date of issue: May 1st 2010
ISBN 13: 9788498890471
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.52 MB
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Reader ratings: 7.2
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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 I’ve 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 pre-1980 another time).
Quick - write a review before the toddler gets home!
So... The Fountains of Paradise wasn't what I was expecting. I'm not quite sure what exactly I was expecting, because I'd never read anything by Arthur C Clarke before, but Space Elevators are a staple of space-opera, a sub-genre I'm particularly fond of - so I guess I was expecting more... melodrama?
I said (repeatedly) in my comments while reading that this story is measured, peaceful, even Zen. Now, while I did enjoy those aspects, I didn't find them terribly gripping. Despite the wonderful engineering feat described, I never felt riveted (please excuse the terrible pun).
For anyone (like me) who doesn't know much about this book:
The story is about the greatest engineer of his generation, Van. His masterwork to date was the Gibraltar bridge, so huge it's simply referred to as The Bridge. Now he's got plans for an even bigger bridge - a bridge to the stars - in the form of a space elevator. The only mountaintop site on Earth suitable for this incredible project is already occupied... by an ancient Buddhist temple. The story follows how Van comes to evict the tenants, and then later his involvement in a rescue mission during the construction of the elevator.
We also get a flashback to some ancient history around the location of the elevator, and a flashforward to mirror the distant future when the elevator is, itself ancient.
So, what's to like?
It's accessible - the language, structure and characters are all easy to grab hold of. It's a quick read - it's not a big book. The pure love of engineering, and passion for the idea of a space elevator evident is interesting, powerful, and charming. The tone throughout is mature; thoughtful, contemplative and peaceful.
It's kind of like a charismatic lecturer using an engineer's biography to try and get students to relate to the real-world issues around major projects. Not entirely successful, but you appreciate the effort.
And what's not to like?
The story is interesting, but not 'dramatic' in the traditional sense. Van has no close friends or family. Nobody's life is at risk if his project doesn't get off the ground. It's a fight for an idea... a wonderful idea, but there's no heart-and-soul at stake. The plot is broadly bisected into getting the project started, and the rescue mission. The first challenge is overcome via a deus-ex-fluke. The second has the potential for great heart-string drama, but ducks every bullet - the victim being rescued is not someone we care about, the method of rescue is mostly routine and sedate, the moments of crisis en-route are solved logically and methodically, and the final climax is one of peaceful acceptance... I applaud the mindset of Van throughout these trials - but his careful competence does suck the risk-factor out of the equation. This is Van the man, he gets the job done, now let's look at the scenery...
As a far-future tale, this feels dated. Apart from the crystal-nanowire the Elevator is built of, there's very little development out into broader technological/social/political progression. This feels like the 80s... with a space elevator.
...And the final score?
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars... I definitely 'liked it' but I didn't 'really like it'. At no point was I not enjoying The Fountains of Paradise, but the overall experience lacked ooomph. In the end I settled on 3 stars because I just didn't have the conviction for 4.
Not a bad introduction, I think, to Arthur C. Clarke.
In no way has it put me off reading more when the opportunity arises.
What would you compare it too?
Hmm... tough for me because I don't read much from that era. Asimov is the only peer I've read, and they certainly have some stylistic elements common. Some similarities to Larry Niven too. A modern writer in the same headspace may be Greg Egan?
P.S. - why is there no proper cover for this book? only a photo of a book at a weird angle..? - Huzzah! Librarian David has now fixed this - thanks.
After this I read: Q Pootle 5
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Read information about the authorArthur C. 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 King's College, London where he obtained First Class Honours in Physics and Mathematics. He is past Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, a member of the Academy of Astronautics, the Royal Astronomical Society, and many other scientific organizations.
Author of over fifty books, his numerous awards include the 1961 Kalinga Prize, the AAAS-Westinghouse science writing prize, the Bradford Washburn Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for his novel Rendezvous With Rama. Clarke also won the Nebula Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1972, 1974 and 1979, the Hugo Award of the World Science Fiction Convention in 1974 and 1980, and in 1986 became Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He was awarded the CBE in 1989.
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