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174 of 181 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2003
In my youth, when I started reading SF, I was never a major devotee of Arthur C. Clarke; I was mostly into Heinlein and Asimov. But I read this one when it was first published (1973) and I liked it so well I kept the hardback for years and years.
I'm not sure what finally happened to it, but at any rate I've just recently gotten around to replacing it. And the story is still as great a read as it was when it was new. I can't claim to have read everything Clarke ever wrote, but this is certainly the best of his works that I _have_ read.
Other reviewers have pointed out, entirely correctly, that this isn't a book to read for character development. That's true of Clarke's books in general, I think, but it's especially apt here, where the 'star' of the book is an artifact of an alien civilization. In fact, even the 'star' doesn't get a lot of development, since in the end it remains deeply mysterious. (I don't know what happens in the sequels; I haven't read them and I haven't heard good things about them. I'm treating this as a standalone work.)
But man, if you want to read a gripping, haunting story about the first human exploration of a space probe (or something) from an extraterrestrial civilization -- and if you want to watch the exploration process unfold and feel as though you're participating in the discovery yourself -- then this is a book for you. This is what Clarke does best: when you read a story through his eyes, you're looking outward at the objects of scientific investigation, and helping yourself to a chunk of the intellectual wonder and joy that goes with such investigation.
The excitement here is the excitement of hard science, not of character development. If that's what you want, you'll probably love this book.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Briefly; a very large cylinder appears in our solar system and an expedition is sent out to investigate what obviously is an extraterrestrial object. They are able to enter the cylinder and watch it slowly "wake up" from the inside. The alien technology they encounter is highly advanced and awe inspiring but still possible to understand.

The story develops in a fairly slow pace, but it is full of suspense and mystery. The discoveries that the astronauts make are so fantastic and described with such lucid imagination that all I could feel while reading this book was anticipation and awe. Furthermore, the more the astronauts explore and discover the deeper the mysteries seem to grow. One thing I really like about Arthur C. Clarke is that his descriptions are scientifically plausible and still very imaginative. I highly recommend this Sci-Fi novel.

Arthur C. Clarke is my favorite Science Fiction author and Rendezvous with Rama is one of my favorites. It was a collection of short stories that included my all time favorite short story "The wall of darkness" that originally got me hooked on Arthur C. Clarke (review coming). Arthur C. Clarke will never be forgotten.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2000
A mysterious object dubbed Rama is found entering the Solar System. A team of cosmonauts set out to intercept the craft, only to discover an environment so alien yet strangely human that debates over the purpose the craft become wildly out of control. Perhaps one of Clarke's best writings, he focuses on mankind's eventual transcendence, a second coming, a return to the garden of Eden, and human nature. He believes that human nature is fundamentally good, yet as humans, we have to overcome prejudices to survive. Not only does this book make one think about mankind's role in the universe and if there are intelligent speices out there, it also evokes fantastic imagery. Imagine gigantic bio-metallic crab creatures, a sea that curves overhead, and a waterfall that moves in a spiral. This book is a great read.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2008
First of all: thanks to the Scandinavian parts of Texas for pointing me to A.Clarke, whom I had previously known only on a 'no name basis' as the writer of 2001 Space Odyssey. I have high respect and liking for the SF genre, but not much knowledge of it, apart from one or the other Verne, Wells, Samjatin, Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury, Asimov, Lem... Of course not counting Douglas Adams, who played another ball game, didn't he?
Rama is a worth while experience. Good Science Fiction is usually also about 'science', but if it is good, it is much about society, about history, usually in the future. The evil cliche term of the paradigm comes to practical use when you read good SF. (The word was invented by evil consultants who needed excuses for the havoc they caused.) SF is about changing paradigms. There is lots of that going on here.
In the 22nd century, the United Planets, which seem to be essentially Earth, Mercury and Mars (which are Earthling colonies) plus some moons are confronted with a scary phenomenon: a huge artificial space body travelling with high speed near the Earth. Luckily the initially silly Star Wars technology had later been developed to the advantage of peaceful purposes and helps arranging a 'rendezvous' with the alien craft, named Rama because the Roman and Greek mythologies have been exhausted in the process of naming space. The process of exploring the strange space body and of thinking through its implications is the actual plot.
Go for it!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2001
While I agree with some of the other reviewers' criticisms here that characterizations here tend to be a bit flat, the human characters simply were not the point of this great novel - RAMA itself was the main character. ACC does a great job of fleshing out Rama so we can really envision it and believe it is real. A great novel (or movie) takes you somewhere you have never been before (that is, its not just a retread of familiar plots and characters). Rendezvous with Rama did that for me. I don't simply mean that it's a novel about contact with an extraterrestrial force - that's been done zillions of times. But rather, this one does it in an extremely compelling and believable manner. I found this to be one of those novels that I had to read virtually all at once because I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Except for the fact that NASA doesn't have the financial resources that the earth folks in this novel do, this book could happen today. No ACC has not tied everything up in a nice neat package - real life seldom does. I don't want to give away the ending - but I love the ending of this book. It puts our civilization in proper perspective, again seems very credible, and was a rather new idea back in the early 70's when this was written. In fact, my least favorite thing about the sequels, particularly the final one in the series, is that they trounce upon the spirit of the original ending. [For those readers who do want more character depth, the first sequel (Rama II) is perhaps the best in retaining the spirit of the original while providing truly fleshed out characters. I presume the latter was attributable to Gentry Lee, rather than ACC.]
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This is an abridged, re-worded, and re-phrased version of the Arthur C. Clarke novel as retold by Elizabeth Walker. This book is intended for consumption by an Elementary School audience and to that end fulfills a need. This is not what was represented in Amazon's advertising. I ordered a classic novel and got the the Classic Comic book or Cliff's notes version. The illustrations look like comic book art. Not what I expected and was very disappointed as I had to wait a month to get the book. If I'd known, I'd canceled and just have gone to our public library.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2000
First, I completely agree with the other review, they should make a movie out of these books. They could have a lot of fun with the special effects for the characters in RAMA Revealed.
I have read all the 2001 & the RAMA books and I must say the RAMA Series really grabbed me. The books are all written with amazing attention to detail. In addition, the story line is extreamly interesting and a little easier to follow than the 2001 series. There were times when reading these books that I just could not put them down. I would tell myself, "One more chapter, I want to find out what is going to happen next". In fact, I did that so much on Garden of RAMA, I stayed up 24 hours and read the entire book in 1 day!
Even though this is science fiction, it is not hard to imagine that the technology introduced here could be a reality some day in the far future. I think that is what I love about Clarke the most.
In the first book, Rendezvous With RAMA, you are introduced to the strange spacecraft called RAMA and the crew sent to investigate. In the second book, RAMA II, the RAMA spacecraft has returned to the solar system and another crew sent out to investigate. In the third book, Garden of RAMA, you follow RAMA II back to its origins and learn more about the inhabitants aboard the craft. In the final book (my favorite), RAMA Revealed, you are overcome by emotions as you follow the war on RAMA and eventually learn more about who sent that gigantic craft into our solar system.
I can not say enough good things about these books. The first one may seem a little slow at times but, when you finish the last book, you will have a great appreciation for the whole collection.
***
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 1998
What first hit me when I read this series (actually, I played the game first), was the great effort put into making the story match with most great astronomers thoughts. There is no encounter with humanoid aliens, no Tie Fighters, no evil alien earth-destroyers. Yet, the story is so fetching and entertaining. Picture humans, not even able to maintain peace within its own race, still judging by sex and the color of an individuals skin, meeting other races, perhaps not as technologically advanced, or technologically advanced in other directions, but with a totally different lifestyle, values and, most important of all, appearance. What would happen? I think you can guess the outcome. Rama is not for those yearning for action, though it is quite thrilling at times. Constant thoughts and comparisons to what happened in our century, as well as small stories from the main character's childhood (in the three last books) is a bit boring at times, which is why I don't give it a solid 10. Still - a good buy, both this and the other books in the series.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2002
As someone who considers herself a fan of "soft" science fiction (you know, the stuff you don't have to have an engineering degree or a clue about math to follow)I could only shake my head in wonderment when I was finished with Rendezvous with Rama. How does Clarke do it?
Here is a tale of mankind's first encounter with an alien spacecraft coming into our own solar system -- set in the not too distant future when we could conceivably have colonized our own local planets, but not yet explored the galaxy. The sense of awe, of discovery both delightful and terrifying comes across sharply as we follow a team that sets out to enter and explore the seemingly uninhabited interior of this gigantic environment. All the while events are unfolding in response to Rama's nearing the sun, the author manages to explain the scientific logistics of Rama in terms a lay person like me can clearly understand without being patronizing and without detracting from the characters and their story (which are, true to Clarke's tradition, interesting without being melodramatic).
I was reluctant to undertake this book at first, having received the impression that it was too technical and therefore, boring. It was neither. Now I can't wait to continue the series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2002
"Rendezvous with Rama" was, and is one of my favorite science fiction novels, penned by the great sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke.
In the 22nd century, the asteroid detecting system SPACEGUARD detects what at first looks like a very strange looking asteroid entering the solar system and heading towards the sun. A space probe sent to investigate discovers the "asteroid" to be really a gigantic cylindrical space vessel. The crew of the spaceship "Endezvour" is sent to investigate the alien spacecraft dubbed "Rama".
Clarke paints such a vivid picture of the inside of Rama, that I could almost see it with my own eyes. The three ladders extending from the center of Rama into seeming infinity, the view of the cylindrical sea, the large empty "cities", all vividly described. Also, I really liked Clarke's description of Rama coming to life. The way Rama starts off in darkness, then the lights come on, the cylindrical sea melts, and the "biots" start rearing their heads.
Clarke doesn't forget about the issue of gravity in space, something many science fiction writers leave out. Rama rotates, giving the inside of the ship a sort of artificial gravity. As you climb down the ladder from the center of the ship, the gravity increases from zero to normal. It's nice to have a science fiction novel with some science in it, something Clarke's novels always have.
Appropriately, Clarke doesn't reveal everything about Rama, leaving a sense of mystery much like he did at the end of "2001".
The characters aren't drawn vividly, a frequent complaint by Clarke detractors, but this didn't bother me. We're here to explore Rama, not the characters. This book is a great read for any lover of science fiction or Arthur C. Clarke. Beware of the sequels co-written by Gentry Lee.
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