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Rendezvous with Rama Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1990
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An all-time science fiction classic, Rendezvous with Rama is also one of Clarke's best novels--it won the Campbell, Hugo, Jupiter, and Nebula Awards. A huge, mysterious, cylindrical object appears in space, swooping in toward the sun. The citizens of the solar system send a ship to investigate before the enigmatic craft, called Rama, disappears. The astronauts given the task of exploring the hollow cylindrical ship are able to decipher some, but definitely not all, of the extraterrestrial vehicle's puzzles. From the ubiquitous trilateral symmetry of its structures to its cylindrical sea and machine-island, Rama's secrets are strange evidence of an advanced civilization. But who, and where, are the Ramans, and what do they want with humans? Perhaps the answer lies with the busily working biots, or the sealed-off buildings, or the inaccessible "southern" half of the enormous cylinder. Rama's unsolved mysteries are tantalizing indeed. Rendezvous with Rama is fast moving, fascinating, and a must-read for science fiction fans. Clarke collaborated with Gentry Lee in writing several Rama sequels, beginning with Rama II.
"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
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It has the taste of the best science fiction of end of XIX century, that used to explore the unknown in a world we thought already discovered and conquered.
There’s something to note about the author’s style which is at the same time his greatest strength, but for some less sci-fi inclined could be problematic. Everything and everyone in the storie is subject to a rigid framework of something. For example, if not laws of physics then military rank. There are no characters that act in surprising ways, because all characters are able to use a scientific mind to make decisions in any situation they face. There are no elaborate relationships between characters, because their military rank or role in the team dictates their relationship to everyone else. If you want deep characters you need to look elsewhere. If you want to read an intellectually intriguing story about life in space, this is your book.
Clarke’s stories are surprisingly easy to read and keep at least myself glued to the story like few other authors can. Whether you are a scifi enthusiast or just scifi curious, I’d give this author’s books a try.
There is a difference in the stories by Arthur C. Clarke, and my enjoyment of them derives from the wholesomeness of the storytelling, with limited violence and no graphic sex or gratuitous scenes, the scientific roots to his theories and images, and the groundbreaking nature of many of his concepts. By now it is well known that he helped popularize the idea of geostationary satellites and foretold the appearance of satellite television broadcasts worldwide, and he wrote extensively on non-fiction topics related to space flight and undersea exploration.
This book is the first in a series of four that continue the Rama story:
- book 1: Rendezvous with Rama, first published in 1973
- book 2: Rama II, written with Gentry Lee and published in 1989
- book 3: The Garden of Rama, written with Gentry Lee and published in 1991
- book 4: Rama Revealed, written with Gentry Lee and published in 1993
Over forty years after it was first written, this is fresh and enjoyable and not at all dated. Well worth reading for anyone who has not discovered it already, and re-reading for those who have.
I have the story "Rendezvous With Rama" and several other good works in a several-works volume, which is where I was unexpectedly taken with his imaginative, humanly fulfilling and action AND character driven story I mentioned above. It was like finding a hidden gem.
As for Rendezvous With Rama, I enjoyed the "jaunt" across a strange alien artifact of astonishing technology, possibly some alien "escape pod" that was to pass through Sol's solar system, which included one space-faring civilization, Earth's, and then to vanish as suddenly as it appeared, headed on some strange mission already planned for it, how many ages ago, no own knows. What could it have been, what did it mean, and who WERE these folks, also, WHERE were they? Characters, details, imagination, scientific approach by Clarke's cast, with his own calculations, and his creations - nice work.
I won't go into the details of the plot very much. A massive object is spotted approaching Earth in the early 22nd century. Originally thought to be an asteroid, it turns out to be a massive space ship which the humans name Rama. An Earth exploration ship is dispatched to investigate, while the scientific and political authorities of the solar system try to figure out what it is and why it is here. The exploration of the ship is wonderfully described, and full of human ingenuity, until the ship exits the solar system without stopping. But in the end, Rama remains almost as much a mystery as it was when it arrived. It is like a jigsaw puzzle, where you have some of the pieces but not enough to get a clear idea of the whole picture, only a fuzzy sense of some parts of it. This is enormously difficult writing and Clarke pulls it off magnificently! I can't recommend reading it more highly!