Monday, 3 August 2015

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

It has been a long time since I wrote a book review. Though  I haven't been awesome at writing these I might be a bit rustier than usual, so bear with me please.

I have read quite a few books over the course of the past 6  - 7 months but most of them have been Manga. Maybe I will write a series review for a couple of the one's I really love. 

Coming to the book I will be reviewing in this post - The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke, I bought it from my local second hand bookstore on a whim. Just because I like the author and I suddenly wanted to read a bit of Sci-Fi. 
Vannemar Morgan's dream is to link Earth to the stars with the greatest engineering feat of all time -- a 24,000-mile-high space elevator. But first he must solve a million technical, political, and economic problems... while allaying the wrath of God. 
For the only possible site on the planet for Morgan's Orbital Tower is the monastery atop the Sacred Mountain of Sri Kanda. And for two thousand years, the monks have protected Sri Kanda from all mortal quests for glory. Kings and princes who have sought to conquer the Sacred Mountain have all died. 
Vannemar Morgan may be next.

I thinks it was the best thing I did going in to this book blind. I just glanced over the synopsis before I started this book yesterday and was intrigued about the Space Elevator bit. I remember reading something like this in 3001 : Space Odyssey and wanted to see where this story takes me. 

This wasn't your typical Sci-Fi book. Or at least it wasn't typical to the books I've read. The whole plot jumped from one time line to the next without notice. It alternated between sometime in the 2nd or 3rd century to the 22nd century. It went back forth a lot in the first few chapters. And this story is based quite close to where I live - in Sri Lanka, which was a major plus. 

This book for me was about 2 people - Kalidasa, a king from 2 millenniums ago and Vannemar Morgan, an engineer a century or so in our future. Kalidasa was a visionary king who created one of the best gardens of his time. and Vannemar Morgan is an engineer whose achievement is a 3 KM high bridge between continents. Now he has his sights set on building a Space Elevator or tower going up from the equator to 36,000 KM high, in space.  What's common between them you ask? They both faced opposition from the monks who lived on the mountain that was the best place on earth for the Space Elevator is supposed to be. Vannemar sees the similarities in the struggles of both himself and Kalidasa. 

This book broaches the subject of religion being a byproduct of us being mammals. There's also aliens in this future of ours. We are visited not by aliens but by a probe (like Voyager) that is named the Star Glider. This is an A.I that has been travelling through space for ages. It learns as much as it can about human life and transmits it back to its home world. The Space Tower is being built with all of this going on in the same timeline.

I think this is a book that someone who doesn't read a lot of Sci-Fi can just whiz through. It was not heavy on the technicalities and the science that was in the book was not something out of college level textbooks. This was a highly enjoyable read that has made me open the door toSci-Fi for me again. I would rate it between a 3 and a 3.5.

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