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By David on 11-16-11
A magical poem for geeks
If plot is your passion, don't read this book. The characters are cardboard and it has very little sense of conventional drama or progression. Instead, it's a beautifully-written description of the gradual construction of a space elevator, from the germ of the idea, to its ultimate fruition. Maybe Clarke should have just written a non-fiction book on the subject, but in practice his majestic descriptions are more thrilling within the context of a narrative, however clunky.
I like to think of this book as a prose poem, rather than a novel. Clarke uses the central idea as an opportunity to wax lyrical about human ambition and the urge for progress. He spins into the mix a tale of an ancient Sri Lankan king and an amazing description of humanity's encounter with a knowledge-disseminating alien spacecraft that passes through the solar system on its own mission of discovery.
The lack of drama in the plotting doesn't bother me, as I love Clarke's exploratory, thought-provoking ideas. The only awkward bit is the final third, which spends too much time on a tension-free, slow motion rescue mission on the tower.
The reader does a competent job although I was irritated by the indefinable accent that he gave to the main character.
25 of 26 people found this review helpful
By Jim "The Impatient" on 04-30-11
This is hard Sci Fi. It was written in 1978, but is still very topical today. Just last year I listened to a lecture on the building of a Space Elevator which is what this book is all about. In the lecture this book was mentioned along with Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. Both books are hard Sci Fi. If you are wanting a good character driven story, then this is not the book for you. If you want facts, figures and like reading manuals on how to build things, then you will love this book.
115 of 125 people found this review helpful