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Rendezvous with Rama [Mass Market Paperback]

Arthur C. Clarke
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 1990
At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredible, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind's first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams... and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits -- just behind a Raman airlock door.

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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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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs C.D. July 15 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a novel that I had high expectations for, due to its being a "classic" in sci-fi, but ultimately felt letdown by. Great concept. Could be thought-provoking, if you're the type to get deep into an idea. But about what it lacked, let me quote another review:
"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.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
After a meteorite impact devastates Italy, humanity instigates project Spaceguard to track potentially dangerous space rocks. In 2130, Spaceguard detects a gigantic object moving at 100 000 km/h heading for a loop around the Sun. Closer inspection reveals the object to be a perfect cylinder 54 km long and 20 km across, its origin apparently intelligent, and its source deep space.

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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Arthur C. Clark at his best... April 4 2004
By Niko
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although it has been almost two years since I read "Rendezvous With Rama," I clearly remember how the novel entertained and impressed me. I recall that Arthur C. Clark's writing was really nice and concise. The story was propelled forward by a developing mystery that effectively pulled the reader along. The plot was a rather novel idea for an extraterrestrial encounter, although it was really an old idea in a new guise - H. G. Well's First Men In The Moon but instead of being in the moon, this story's astronauts make their way inside Rama. Clark managed, along the way, to sprinkle nice futuristic predications into the story regarding man's presence on the moon as well as other planets of the solar system. He introduced an interesting idea of genetically enhanced chimpanzees but failed to utilize the chimpanzees when the opportunity came up - to disarm an approaching warhead. The ending left the reader unsatisfied but the author is immediately forgiven when the reader reads the very last sentence. This is a great work of extraterrestrial speculative fiction and all fans of science fiction who appreciate a story adhering to hard science should take the time to read it, as it is well deserving of both the Hugo and Nebula awards that it earned.
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By Magin
Format:Mass Market Paperback
We've all read scifi by brilliant minds with great technical ideas that somehow fell short in the storytelling department. And we've all read page-turners that gripped us, but didn't engage our minds.
But if we're lucky, we've also read Arthur C. Clarke.
"Rendezvous with Rama" is Clarke in peak form, combining great science with the kind of mysterious story that really sticks with you. The blend is perfect, and the pace of the revelations -- both scientific and dramatic -- is flawless.
In fact, the science and fiction in this science-fiction story are so amazingly good that the shallowness of the characters doesn't hurt the story. A cornerstone of scifi is looking at how people behave in situations that are out of the ordinary. Normally, that means that we need compelling characters with lots of development, layers, internal conflicts and bad hair days. The first time I read this novel, I was put off by the anonymity of the characters. Not only don't they have first names (perfectly reasonable, given that it's a military expedition), but there's very little about them that helps me identify with them. It wasn't until my second or third reading that I realized why that doesn't matter here: becuase the story and the science are so deep, I was *already* involved in the novel, and didn't need to get into a character's head to find my place in the story.
Sequels would do wonders for character development (though they were further examples of the dirty-old-man method of writing female characters), but wouldn't touch the sense of mystery, drama and even suspense that "Rendezvous" gave me. This isn't a library book; it's one you'll want to keep coming back to.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars worth a read
Jolly good! Thought it was a great book. Will definitely be buying the next books in the series to see what happens.
Published 2 months ago by Francois
5.0 out of 5 stars Arthur C Clarke
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 4 months ago by Stilgardm
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
After reading the very first page I wanted more. That's a very good start, usually I have to tell me it will get better after one or two chapter. Read more
Published on July 31 2012 by Lazypete
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic of hard science fiction
Written by Arthur C. Clarke, author of "2001: A Space Odyssey" (among many, many others), "Rendezvous with Rama" is considered by many one of his finest works and a contemporary... Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2011 by Andre Farant
5.0 out of 5 stars The Raman's Are Here. . .
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 more
Published on Oct. 11 2006 by Mighty Sir Darren
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that proves why Arthur C. Clarke is still a Master!
This book, even today, is as fresh and fascinating as it was when it was first published several years ago. Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Eric
4.0 out of 5 stars Same ingredients as CHILDHOOD'S END, but better result
RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA showcases a lot of things that must fascinate Arthur C. Clarke, or at least a lot of concepts that he likes revisiting in his fiction. Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by Andrew McCaffrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Piece
Es una obra maestra de la ciencia ficción, que se continua de manera muy atractiva con otros 3 volumenes. Muy recomendable.
Published on Jan. 2 2004 by zerjio
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable book
Rating System:
1 star = abysmal; some books deserve to be forgotten
2 star = poor; a total waste of time
3 star = good; worth the effort
4 star = very good;... Read more
Published on Dec 26 2003 by Erik1988
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes your imagination soar!
I read this in my early teens, and it's been read many times since then. It's the best kind of science fiction - full of wonder and imagination. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2003 by tollick
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