The Fountains of Paradise

Arthur C. Clarke
The Fountains of Paradise Cover

Elegantly Written Hard SF


The Fountains of Paradise is a tale of people driven to accomplish great things. Vannevar Morgan's obsession with building his Orbital Tower is enriched by the side plot of a historical ruler of Taprobane, King Kalidasa, who accomplished engineering marvels for his own era. Both the long-dead King Kalidasa and the current engineer Vannevar Morgan intend to do whatever it takes to complete their great work, leaving behind a legacy that will long outlast their own lives.

The story seems focused on the details the projects themselves, rather than the characters, but Clarke's graceful style of writing evokes a sense of wonder, even in the driest of explanations. The side plot concerning humanity's first contact with a robotic alien spaceship seemed a bit unnecessary, but it was only present in a small part of the overall novel. Overall, Clarke's depiction of the construction of a space elevator was compelling, beautiful, and well worth reading.

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