Reviews of Fountains of Paradise, the (1979)
Review by clong (2006-10-16)
If your idea of an heroic figure is an engineer who designs big bridges, you will love this book. For the rest of us, it's one of the more mediocre Hugo winners I have read.
A couple of the characters were reasonably interesting, as were the glimpses of a pseudo-Ceylonese society. And a few of Clarke's guesses about the near term direction of technological progress have proven reasonably astute.
But the plot felt far too episodic, with clumsy transitions between episodes. The early chapters had me ready for a thought-provoking story of conflict between faith and scientific progress, not for a plot gimmick that magically removes the protagonist's major obstacle. And the entire alien visitation subplot seemed like needless detour, the only purpose of which was to offer proof that Nietzsche was right after all.
And let me just say, that if I am ever trapped at the bottom of a descending space elevator structure, 500 km above the earth, with only a few hours of air, please don't send an aging scientist with a heart problem as the one person rescue crew.