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Literature / The Fountains of Paradise

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The Fountains of Paradise is a Science Fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It tells the story of Dr. Vannevar Morgan, an engineer fresh from building a bridge across the Strait of Gibraltar, who embarks on a plan to build a space elevator. However, the only suitable site, a mountain in the fictional country of Taprobane (very closely based on Sri Lanka), happens to be already occupied by a monastery which is quite determined to stay put. The main plot is interspersed with the story of the king Kalidasa, ancient ruler of Taprobane, who ordered the construction of massive pleasure gardens.


This work contains examples of

  • Author Appeal: Given that's it's Arthur C. Clarke, manned communications satellites show up a few times.
  • First Contact: The past visit of an alien probe is mentioned.
  • Prophecy Twist: The monks believe in a prophecy that if a particular species of butterfly reaches the top of the mountain, that signifies the end of their monastery. Later on, in order to sabotage a test of Morgan's space elevator technology, one of the monks hacks the weather control satellites to create an unprecedented storm... which also blows a swarm of butterflies all the way up the mountain to the monastery.
  • Space Elevator: The construction of the elevator forms the main plot of the book. Dr. Morgan also contributes to building one on Mars.
  • Terraform: The Republic of Mars sees their own space elevator as a means to make their terraforming project feasible.
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  • Weather-Control Machine: The weather is influenced by a network of orbiting satellites.


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