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Customer Review

53 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No region on Earth left for safe celestial target practice, July 28, 2008
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This review is from: Rendezvous with Rama (Mass Market Paperback)
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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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 28, 2008 8:27:46 AM PDT
Gio says:
Add a couple names to your list of older sc-fi masters: Karel Capek, the best of them all, and... Anthony Trollope! who wrote one futurist novel.

Posted on Jul 29, 2008 6:27:26 AM PDT
Hermit, I would never have figured you for SF; with your intelligence and varied interests I should have known. Nice review.

Metamorpho ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2008 10:21:27 AM PDT
I agree with Metamorpho.

Posted on Aug 1, 2008 8:49:06 PM PDT
Personally, Clarke belongs in the top ranks. "SF is about changing paradigms "--I love this observation!
I understand this review. Most interesting, Hermit!

Posted on Aug 2, 2008 1:13:29 PM PDT
In my opinion, the important literature today is coming mostly from the genres of horror and sci-fi. RENDEZVOUS With RAMA is one of the earlier classics of the latter category, but remains an exciting and thought-provoking story. Both Texas Swede's and your own review here have done a service to this book, Helmut.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2008 1:19:24 PM PDT
Gio, you mention Capek... Have you ever read anything by J.G. Ballard? The man was disturbing, and could make your skin crawl, but brilliant.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2008 4:49:17 PM PDT
H. Schneider says:
Ballard: I loved the Empire of the Sun, which is not SF, but autobio (turned into a disturbing film by Spielberg with boy Bale), but I had serious problems with other stuff by him. E.g. Crash is in first place disgusting (as most fetishes that one doesn't share at least a little bit), but that is admittedly also not SF. Which SF of his do you recommend, C?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2008 11:33:05 AM PDT
For me to make reference to J.G. Ballard in a discussion about sci-fi writers is a case of using the term in its loosest sense. Ballard wrote about fantasy, dystopia, altered consciousnesses, and about all that was odd and twisted in the collective psyche. That all being said, however, I would suggest the following from Ballard:

CONCRETE ISLAND: A strange but engrossing little novel about a man whose car goes off the expressway, landing in a clearing between the overpasses. Unable to be seen or heard, the man is forced to eke out a Robinson Crusoe-like existence in the overgrown weeds and trash tossed from the overpasses.

HIGH RISE: The inhabitants of an ultramodern luxury apartment complex shut themselves off from the rest of society and descend to the worst forms of savagery. This is an excellently written story, but it was so disgusting and aggravating I have to say I would never read it again. And I got a strong stomach. So be forewarned.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2008 4:43:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2008 4:44:27 PM PDT
H. Schneider says:
odd things happen here: suddenly I am 'a customer' in the comment thread of my own review; how does that get done? (and now I am back to my name again; I will never understand this wonderland here)
on Ballard: Caesar, your recommendations sound rather luke-warm, also more like combinations of Beckett with horror, less like SF

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2008 6:01:05 PM PDT
Unless you consider floor-by-floor warfare, torture, incestuous rape, or cannibalism to be blase themes, there is nothing "luke-warm" about Ballard's HIGH RISE.

I recommended what I considered his two best works (others will disagree and mention THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION... we ain't going there, though). If you want a more SF-oriented Ballard title try his "World " novels:

DROWNED WORLD: Solar flares melt the polar icecaps and much of the Northern Hemisphere is now either underwater or on the brink of being submerged.
BURNING WORLD: Worldwide draught, rivers running dry, mass starvation
CRYSTAL WORLD: The Amazon jungle begins to crystalize

If you want short stories look in on TERMINAL BEACH. Since you've just finished HEART Of DARKNESS, you might be interested in the story, "Question of Reentry."

If your looking for space opera, sorry; to the best of my knowledge, Ballard didn't do space opera.
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