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Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (1973)


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The author created a really amazing world on Rama, but it took about 50% of the book to get there. Then the story just petered out at the end. I think I have to admit that I am not going to be a big Clarke fan. This is the second book of his that I just didn't find as mind blowing as everyone else apparently did. Maybe the writing style is too dry or the characters are too weak for me. Whatever the reason, I think I'm done with Clarke
for a while. ( )
  fhudnell | Nov 25, 2015 |
...I'm unreasonably fond of this novel. It is something of a throwback to an earlier age of science fiction, published in a time when the genre had already moved on to other, and in my opinion more interesting, things. The portrayal of future society seems simplistic, the characterisation practically non-existent, and the story arc lacks a clear climax. The list of flaws in this novel is long. And yet, it does one thing so supremely well that all these flaws recede into the background when reading it. Ill-defined as the much looked for sense of wonder may be, Clarke nailed it in this novel. Rendezvous with Rama is not Clarke's best novel, nor his most interesting but, it will remain a favourite of mine.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Oct 18, 2015 |
Is Rendezvous with Rama the greatest science fiction novel ever written? It is certainly the best one that I have read, and its impact remains undiminished after several re-readings. Clarke's supremacy as a writer of science fiction lies in his ability to describe fantastic events, scenarios and phenomena in clear, accessible prose that enables even the scientific layman (such as myself) to appreciate the marvels he describes. He also has a gift for mingling the magical with the almost mundane, which always lends that extra verisimilitude to his books.

Rendezvous with Rama is set in 2130, and opens with the discovery of what appears to be a new asteroid trundling through the outer reaches of the solar system. This is, in itself, of little moment until astronomers notice that it appears to be perfectly symmetrical, and moving abnormally quickly. As every available resource is directed to studying this celestial visitor it becomes apparent that it is not a natural object at all but a huge cylinder, fifty kilometres long and thirty kilometres across. The human race has to come to terms with the fact that it is, at long last, bout to encounter another civilisation.

The manned solar survey vessel Endeavour, under Commander Bill Norton, is sent to study Rama, as it is the only ship close enough to do so during the brief period that Rama will spend in our solar system. Endeavour manages to rendezvous with Rama one month after the space ship first comes to Earth's attention, by which time the alien ship is already inside Venus' orbit. Norton and his crew find it surprisingly easy to gain entry to Rama through one of a series of triple airlocks. They soon come to realise that everything in Rama is done in threes.

Once inside they are faced with a vast internal landscape laid out across the internal surface of the cylinder, including a band around the centre of the craft which they soon recognise as ice. This is dubbed the Cylindrical Sea. One bonus is that the atmosphere within Rama is breathable, which facilitates wider exploration. Their time in Rama is limited as there is no way that the Endeavour could survive going too close to the sun, and will have to depart within about a month of landing there.

The nature and purpose of Rama, and the identity and home of its creators remain enigmatic throughout the book. Inside Rama, the atmosphere is discovered to be breathable. The astronauts discover several features, including "cities" (odd blocky shapes that look like buildings, and streets with shallow trenches in them, looking like trolley car tracks) that actually served as factories and seven massive cones at the southern end of Rama – believed to form part of the propulsion system.

Clarke maintains the reader's sense of awe throughout the book, partially because it is matched by that of the characters themselves as they continually discover new aspects of the wonders of Rama. Clarke also investigates the political and religious impact of this sudden manifestation of other civilised life elsewhere in the universe, with the colonies on Mercury, the Moon and Mars all having different responses to the presence of Rama. He even manages to throw in a fair amount of humour, and captures it all in just two hundred and fifty pages. An excellent novel, that is as compelling now as when I firt read it about thirty-five years ago. ( )
1 vote Eyejaybee | Sep 24, 2015 |
What at first appears to be a new asteroid is detected approaching the sun. But it is soon revealed to be an alien artefact in the shape of a cylinder. A spaceship is sent to intercept and investigate. What they discover astounds everybody. But they also work out that the stranger is only passing through the solar system, which sets off a race to discover as much as possible about it before it goes. Arthur C. Clarke had a marvellous capacity to imagine new ideas and worlds and bring them to life in the reader's mind. This work is on a par with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and was a deserved winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards. ( )
  Bruce_McNair | Jun 13, 2015 |
This was a fairly decent story but not great. Perhaps knowing this novel was one of only three to be awarded the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W Campbell awards made the expectation too high. At any rate, the book finished as average for me, which is about par for science fiction books. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
กลุ่มอ…Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castellano, Peter M.Back cover photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Merlo, AuroraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
della Frattina, BeataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggleton, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernandes, StanislawCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleissner, RolandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jiránek, MiroslavCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siegel, HalCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swendsen, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallandro, LeonelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Volný, ZdeňekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zebrowski, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Sri Lanka, where I climbed the stairway of the Gods.
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Sooner or later, it was bound to happen.
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Haiku summary
An unknown space probe
flies through Earth's solar system;
What is inside it?

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553287893, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Astronomers discover a huge, celestial object hurtling through space and after a space probe confirms that is not a natural object, send a space team to investigate.

(summary from another edition)

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