Enjoy fast, FREE delivery, exclusive deals and award-winning movies & TV shows with Prime
Try Prime and start saving today with Fast, FREE Delivery
FREE delivery: Friday, June 9 on orders over $25.00 shipped by Amazon.
Ships from: Amazon.com Sold by: Amazon.com
Other Sellers on Amazon
& FREE Shipping
96% positive over last 12 months
+ $3.99 shipping
91% positive over last 12 months
Usually ships within 4 to 5 days.
+ $3.99 shipping
94% positive over last 12 months
Usually ships within 2 to 3 days.
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle for Web.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Follow the Author
Rendezvous With Rama Paperback – October 13, 2020
|New from||Used from|
Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
Mass Market Paperback
Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
Purchase options and add-ons
An enormous cylindrical object has entered Earth’s solar system on a collision course with the sun. A team of astronauts are sent to explore the mysterious craft, which the denizens of the solar system name Rama. What they find is astonishing evidence of a civilization far more advanced than ours. They find an interior stretching over fifty kilometers; a forbidding cylindrical sea; mysterious and inaccessible buildings; and strange machine-animal hybrids, or “biots,” that inhabit the ship. But what they don’t find is an alien presence. So who―and where―are the Ramans?
Often listed as one of Clarke’s finest novels, Rendezvous with Rama won numerous awards, including the Hugo, the Nebula, the Jupiter, and the British Science Fiction Awards. A fast-paced and compelling story of an enigmatic encounter with alien technology, Rendezvous with Rama offers both answers and unsolved mysteries that will continue to fascinate readers for generations.
“Mr. Clarke is splendid . . . We experience that chilling touch of the alien, the not-quite-knowable, that distinguishes SF at its most technically imaginative.” ―The New York Times
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
"It was delightful to be presented with a scene to stagger the imagination and yet have it described so exactly and meticulously as to know you have been there." —Isaac Asimov "Arthur has done it again—proved that the chief ingredient of superior science fiction is story." —Frank Herbert "Something for everybody—politics, religion, and all kinds of science wrapped up in a taut mystery-suspense." —Publisher's Weekly "Mr. Clarke is splendid. . .We experience that chilling touch of the alien, the not-quite knowable, that distinguishes SF at its most technically imaginative." —The New York Times —
About the Author
- Publisher : Harper Voyager (October 13, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0358380227
- ISBN-13 : 978-0358380221
- Lexile measure : 990L
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.75 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #22,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #162 in Alien Invasion Science Fiction
- #214 in Hard Science Fiction (Books)
- #693 in Classic Literature & Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Captain Norton and his crew are awestruck and amazed by the immense amount of detail that the craft is capable of creating. He and the crew are astonished at the Raman architecture and technology. The design of the “cities” is marvelous and the technical capabilities of the biots are impressive.
Rama is its own unique world of engineering, construction and activities. There is a North Pole and a South Pole and there are four suns in its sky.
Rama has the same thing on its surface that we have to put up with on Earth. I’m talking about hurricanes and tornadoes and electrical storms. It even has a cylindrical sea.
The author has ensured the book is read fast by keeping the many chapters short and by giving each chapter a cliffhanger. I am fascinated by this book.
Five stars. 💫💫💫💫💫
Having heard that Denis Villeneuve is planning to adapt the novel into a movie, I decided to reread it.
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a cylindrical object passes through the solar system. At first assumed to be an asteroid, which they name Rama, astronomers soon come to realize it is actually a constructed artifact -- a spaceship perhaps, or a probe -- that is 12 miles wide and more than 30 miles long. (There is no doubt in my mind that the speculation surrounding ‘Oumuamua as it passed through the solar system in 2017 was in part sparked by this book.) In the Clarkean near-future of the novel, humans have already built colonies on the moon and nearby planets, so they have the ability to send a manned expedition out to rendezvous with Rama and examine it up close.
The explorers manage to find a point of entry into Rama and discover that it is cold and dark and apparently dead inside. It does have a breathable atmosphere though, and, because of its spin, it has gravity along the outer surfaces of the interior. As the object nears the sun, it begins to heat up and come to life inside. Gigantic lights illuminate the interior, a body of water that forms a ring around the midpoint begins to melt, and weather patterns develop inside the enormous habitat.
Lifelike entities emerge and begin to perform tasks, paying no attention to the human visitors. The entities appear to be an amalgam of biological and mechanical components, and the human visitors can't decide whether these are actual Ramans or merely the programmed servants of the Ramans. As Rama gets nearer the sun, the visitors have only a short time to explore as much as possible before they must abandon it. As they explore, making ever more puzzling discoveries, some of the massive processes that happen inside Rama get dangerous.
This is the kind of science fiction adventure at which Clarke excelled. There are no villains or monsters to contend with -- there are only the powerful dynamics of physics and the inscrutable ways of alien intelligences far beyond our own. After all, it was Clarke who famously predicted that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The ultimate goal of the novel is to provoke a sense of wonder at the possibilities that may await us "out there." Inevitably, it feels a bit dated nearly fifty years later, but for someone approaching it with the right frame of mind, I think it would still serve that purpose well enough today.
2001: A Space Odyssey did pretty much the same thing. Reviewers of the movie often described it as more of a "trip" than a movie because, instead of the usual Hollywood plot devices, character development, and conflicts, 2001 offered audiences a thought experiment on human evolution and cosmic destiny. If he handles the material right, Villeneuve may be able to do something similar for 21st century audiences. Will it fly today? Only time will tell.
Rendezvous with Rama starts when an large, cylindrical object is detected hurtling towards the sun. The object is named "Rama" after the Hindu god. The United Planets sends the solar survey vessel Endeavour under the command of Commander Bill Norton to investigate. The rest of the book focuses on the crew's exploration of the alien artifact.
Rama is excellent at evoking a sense of wonder. Clarke manages to convey the artifact's grandeur and to create a uniquely bizarre alien world. The structures and other things encountered do not resemble the familiar sci-fi tropes. I especially liked how Clarke takes advantage of Rama's artificial gravity (generated by the object's spin) to present the astronauts with a new challenge. Even more than the alien structures, I'll always remember the description of Commander Norton climbing "down" the ladder towards Rama's "ground."
That said, Clarke demonstrates an admirable amount of discipline in not revealing everything about Rama. Some mysteries remain unanswered, and are thus all the more intriguing. I can only imagine that, when the book was first published in 1973, the effect was even greater and there were fewer books about alien worlds. I haven't read the sequels, but fear they would undermine the majesty of this book.
Clarke has always focused more on alien life and technology than on characters in his stories. That said, the characters in Rama are surprisingly serviceable, if not great. Commander Norton gets enough backstory to make him relatable. Norton's interest in and admiration for James Cook, captain of an earlier Endeavour, gave him some depth. For those who know their history, it also infused the story with some foreshadowing over Norton's fate.
Most of the crew members at least get a few personality quirks that help distinguish them, although few are actually memorable. The lack of characterization generally works - until it doesn't. At a few points, the book places some of these characters in danger and the reader is expected to care, but I found it hard to do so. For example, two-thirds into the book, a character whom we'd never seen before, Jimmy, suddenly appears, and then the next 15% of the book focuses on him and his trials. At the least the character would have benefitted from some sort of introduction.
I've criticized Clarke's problems ending some of his stories in a satisfactory manner, especially his tendency to rely upon incongruous twists or cheats to resolve plot threads (see, for example, my review of Clarke's Childhood's End). Fortunately, Rama avoids this problem. The story ends in a manner that suits the mystery and grandeur of Rama. There is a twist at the end, but it manages to be both subtle and thought-provoking at the same time. I could see how readers demanded a sequel, but the book was designed to - and mostly manages to - stand on its own.
Rendezvous for Rama isn't for anybody. This book is about exploration writ large, about drive to explore rather than the discoveries. If you want a fully realized alien civilization, this isn't the book for you. However, if you want a somewhat realistic account of how man's first contact with alien technology might occur, Rama is still a classic.
Top reviews from other countries
Rama remains as fresh and enjoyable a book at nearly fifty-one as it was forty years ago. What I appreciate most now is the spare, uncluttered style of the author. Clarke is not big on wordy prose and his emphasis on concepts and story is often at the expense of detailed characterisation. In some ways this makes the book dated. If you are expecting detailed interpersonal subplots then you are likely to be disappointed.
Rama is on a hyperbolic path through the solar system, so Commander Norton and the crew of the Endeavour have a limited amount of time to explore the vast interior of the craft. What I liked about this was that there are no sudden shock revelations as to what Rama 'really' is. The explorers struggle to make sense of an inexplicable alien environment and what they do discover comes via good old fashioned scientific investigation and reasoned deduction.
This is classic 'hard' science fiction, emotionally understated by todays standards perhaps, but no less powerful for that.
This time, instead of actual aliens coming to Earth and a prophecy of how humanity will eventually evolve, in Rendezvous With Rama we have a large alien vessel entering the solar system on a path that will take it inside the orbit of Mercury, around the Sun, and then, is anyone’s guess. Will it adjust it’s trajectory, pull a breaking manouvre and find a stable orbit in the solar system, or will it use the Sun and sling shot elsewhere? Where did it come from, who sent it, who or what is inside, what is it’s purpose?
Set in a time when humans have colonised several planets and moons in the solar system and space flight is quite normal, we have one space ship — the Endeavour, captained by a big fan of James Cook — that is able to get some fuel and rendezvous with this vessel and investigate it. However, once the vessel has passed inside the orbit of Mercury, the Mercurians decide to take matters into their own hands and ignore what the rest of humanity has to say on the matter.
As i say, this is a proper old school sci-fi first contact story at its best and well deserving of its place as a “SF Masterworks”.
Books like this show that people are often more interested in ideas than good writing. There's even a name for a type of book which is built around a single idea, which can be expressed in a few words, or even in one word - it's called high concept. Lots of Hollywood blockbusters are high concept: Planet Of The Apes, Snakes On A Plane, Jaws, Speed. The power of an idea is sobering as you sweat over editing your adverbs. If you haven’t got an idea that appeals to people, then polished prose probably won’t help. But I suppose, on a more reassuring and philosophical note, if the universe is circular, then there’s a chance that even poor writing can go all the way round and meet up with an interesting story somewhere at the back. That’s what seems to have happened with Rendezvous With Rama
Saying it's a straightforward read isn't a dig at the book. It flows smoothly and reveals itself at a decent speed. It certainly doesn't drag at all.
So a big alien world/spaceship enters the solar system and man has a finite time in order to explore it. So it gets its human visitors and they explore the world as much as they can. The world of our humans in the future is nicely set out and explained. Even though it's set in the future, the future civilisation is expanded upon to make you feel fully versed in their world. Then the alien world is well explained and you feel as if you know it as well as the characters.
If I have one down point about it, is that we never get a real look at the aliens. This is the reason for saying that this review contains spoilers. They are hinted at a few times but never explicitly there, or described, except hinted at during the story. It is also a good thing in a way but it feels like your cheated a bit. Then again the characters are also denied it, so I'm not alone feeling let down.
It's a good read and with only the lack of alien beings, although we do get alien biots, it is worth your time to check it out.
The story itself is engrossing. The sense of mystery runs through the whole work, and in that way, it's ending is pleasing. You get many answers, including to some technical wondering of Rama, but never get a purpose of its visit. There are "chapters" of intense drama and excitement mixed with slow and purposeful exploration. The science in the book feels decent, and well researched, so helps pull you in.
The characters also feel real. They wonder if they should cheekily wave to camera's. They get excited sailing across an ocean. They wonder joking if women in space should be allowed, as their boobs distractingly bounce in zero G. One of the crew smuggles a piece of equipment on, and the book spends a whole chapter with the captain teasing it out of him and then we learn all about the crew member. Also when the 2nd in command gets a message and breaks protocol, and the series of wink-wink-nudge-nudge that happens as other people are subtly reminded that there's nothing to see here.
It's silly, but I felt often I wanted to know more about the characters. Why does the commander have 2 wife's, and how does Xmas look, for example. Did the guy ever win gold in the Lunar Olympics. I didn't expect that in a Sci-Fi book, honestly
I also enjoyed the squabbling scientists, including the revelation that the expedition only happens because the people voting have a vested interest ensuring that money isn't spent elsewhere possibly debunking their view of the Universe! You got to see the best and worst aspects of humanity in this, and as an extension of that I liked the way the Hermians weren't left as brutish people, they were humanised in a way, despite how they act.
This is a great read and I'm happy to recommend it. Book itself looks nice and reads easily, including type and layout and etc.