Rendezvous with Rama Mass Market Paperback – Nov 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 TimesSee all Product Description
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"The characters are a little bland I guess but it's such a short read and there's so much information to digest there was really no room for hardcore character development. Who cares anyway..."
Well, I guess maybe I'm one of the few who do. There's really NO development at all. As the above-quoted reviewer states, Rama is the main character and the focus of the book. But I don't think it would have been impossible to sustain that same mood, while also making the human characters interesting. The United Planets council scenes were tiresome -- due to too many names and not enough page-time -- but were kept thankfully short. Commander Norton is boring. He's made to seem real simply by the fact that he has a role model in a historical figure -- Captain James Cook. Other people are given hobbies to bring them to life; sailing and participating in the Lunar Olympics are two.
The other reviewer is right, this is not a character-driven novel. The fact that the most disappointing aspect of this book was never meant as its focus and that it was a fluid, quick read earned it three stars from me.
As we follow Commander Bill Norton and his team into the heart of Rama, Clarke takes us out of our comfort zone, and we too are made to “discard the instincts both of earth and of space, and re-orientate to a new system of coordinates.” When you are in the endless blackness of space with no blue sky to denote ‘above’ or green grass to denote ‘below’ and not even the pull of gravity to give a sense of ‘up’ or ‘down’, what a sense of disorientation that would lead to. And that amazing feeling of being in completely alien surroundings is exactly what I experienced reading this book.
Creation that moves from the ice age, to water and oxygen formation, to the making of plankton in mere hours; an endless world of ‘cities’ with ‘buildings’ and ‘streets’ and a sea; a weird world with cones emitting strange magnetic fields; crab-like robots and even alien flora … what really takes the story to a whole new level is the constant sense of waiting for something unfathomable - a sense that is heightened with an intensified race against time as Rama’s outer hull changes from 270 degrees below, to molten lead, as it races towards the sun.
A investigation team is quickly dispatched to rendezvous with the object—now called Rama after a Hindu god—while it still remains in the solar system. To the surprise of everyone involved, Rama appears to be an interstellar ark: a world contained in a spaceship, complete with spin-induced artificial gravity and a surprisingly Earth-like atmosphere. But more importantly, there is no sign that Rama is inhabited—what, then, is the purpose of the craft?
This is definitely a hard science fiction novel, in that its focus is a primarily scientific account of the further exploration of Rama, pinning down technical details and the testing of hypotheses on the ship's origin and function. Needless to say, no first contact novel would be complete without the politics springing from an alien encounter, and Clarke's view of interplanetary negotiations on such add a nice complement of believable soft science fiction to round out the novel.
For the most part, Clarke also avoids character development, again preferring to develop Rama itself. I've read on various websites that the sequels place stronger emphasis on characterization, but, as with Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey series, don't measure up to the original (which, in Rama's case, was initially supposed to stand alone). Much of this can probably be blamed on collaborating with other authors, who are usually good but not nearly as good as Clarke.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The narrator is painfully slow, plodding and monotone, and the occasional phoney accents can be a little annoying especially in the longer deliveries but the story itself is as... Read morePublished 15 months ago by eimb1999
Fabulous book! Typical of Arthur C. Clarke, the story concepts and descriptions of technology are way beyond its time. Great read.Published 15 months ago by matt
Jolly good! Thought it was a great book. Will definitely be buying the next books in the series to see what happens.Published 18 months ago by Francois
I already have this book in a translated version. Wanted the original version, no surprise the story is the same... And it's still a truly good science-novel.Published 20 months ago by Stilgardm
Rendezvous with Rama is a great peice of work. One of Arthur's finiest. The plot line is about a huge cylinder ship heading for earth. Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2006 by Mighty Sir Darren
This book, even today, is as fresh and fascinating as it was when it was first published several years ago. Read morePublished on June 18 2004 by Eric