My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I bought the book to learn more about space elevators and Arthur C. Clarke didn’t disappoint me there. Thirty-five years ago Clark imagined a time when Earthlings would find space travel available to the masses. How? By replacing rockets with an elevator moving straight up and down along hyperfilament thread held taught by an orbital anchor 31,000 miles up and a counterweight anchored in the ground on the equator.
The magnificent part of this story is that his vision may become a reality by the middle of the twenty-first century–and using some of the same materials and procedures so descriptively laid out in The Fountains. Clarke doesn’t weave a story of magic; he shows just how difficult it will be. But it will be worth the cost and effort when humans need to escape from our planet.
Yes, Clarke does include a peek far into the future where the Starholme return to Earth at the site of the Elevator (they’re not evil aliens, though). What makes this novel mind-boggling was the other end of the time traveling. Clarke also lets us look way back to the time this same site was the home of Kalidasa, a doomed king who created astounding engineering feats as his legacy.
One astounding feat was enough for me! Including both the far past and very distant future seemed to distract from the focal point, the amazing science in fiction called a Space Elevator.