I’ve decided I’m just crazy enough to try to read every book that’s ever won the Hugo Award for Best Novel…and, of course, that I want to share this insane experience with all of you. I hope you’re all up for a bit of mountain climbing as we trek to the best Earthly location for a space elevator this week. Sixty-odd posts of science fiction, speculation and social justice continue!
The Fountains of Paradise
Arthur C. Clarke
published in 1979
Dr. Vannevar Morgan is the world’s greatest bridge builder. Having spanned the Strait of Gibralter, he sets his eye on an even larger bridge: one between the heavens and the Earth. The problem? The only gravitationally stable place on the planet to which he might anchor his bridge is the site of a sacred monastery in the equatorial country of Taprobane. Not to mention the fact that most people find the idea of a space elevator completely insane. But Morgan is determined to see his greatest bridge built.
Warning! Mild spoilers ahead!
I…don’t get it.
I mean, yes, space elevator, very cool. I loves me some real science and hard SF. But beyond that…what, exactly? Why in the hell did this book win both a Hugo and a Nebula? Am I missing something? Is there some great symbolism or underlying theme that I’m just not seeing?
According to Wikipedia, no. It’s just…a book. About a dude trying to make a space elevator. With a bit of reference to Sri Lankan history/mythology. And a random alien spacecraft which says that only mammalian races come up with an idea of God. None of which appears to tie together. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Is it just the space elevator? Is that why everyone loved the book? Because it’s an awesome idea, but a) not Clarke’s and b) definitely not that impressive 35 years later.
This may be the shortest THP post ever, but I got nothin’ else.
Race: Nobody’s racially identified, that I know; there actually aren’t that many major characters. From the surnames one would assume that several of the main characters are POC; the majority of the story does take place in a Sri Lanka-analog.
Gender/Sexuality: Uh? There’s one named female. She seems competent enough. That is literally it on this subject.
Other: Nothing that I noticed?
OVERALL RANKING: 6 out of 10 (rankings subject to change as my sample size increases).
I mean, hey, at least it didn’t piss me off about anything.