Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Nebula Update: Fountains of Paradise

Last night I got around to watching Discovery Science's "Prophets of Science Fiction" episode on Arthur C. Clarke. One of the problems with this episode is that it gives Clarke as much credit for the space elevator concept as it does the geostationary satellite. From what I can tell, he helped popularize the former, but is often credited with the idea for the latter (though there is of course some debate as to the extent of his contribution).

The episode talked about the novel Fountains of Paradise as introducing the concept of a space elevator. I thought, "That's weird; I didn't realize he had written two books about space elevators. I haven't read Fountains, but I read the other one." Well, as it turns out, they're the same book, and they both won the 1979 Nebula award for Best Novel.

As I recall, it was an interesting book, but I was bothered by the fact that it altered Earth's geography to create a Sri Lanka-like island at the Equator. It's almost alternate-history science-fiction, but it felt too much like changing things around to make the story work. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it were the first novel I had ever read about a space elevator.

So I now have 35 out of 48 Nebula-winning novels read. 13 left doesn't sound too tricky, does it? When I started this project, I had only read 11.

I'm currently reading Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, which I suppose might be nominated for this year's awards, and I have some library e-books on hold, but I also have one Nebula winner on my Kindle to return to when these other, more exciting ones run dry.

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