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Rendezvous With Rama (1973)

by Arthur C. Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Rama Universe (1)

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8,840153693 (3.94)2 / 288
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.
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» See also 288 mentions

English (143)  French (4)  Italian (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (152)
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
  revirier | Dec 13, 2021 |
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. Arthur C Clarke's supremacy as a writer of science fiction lies, to my mind, 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.

Clarke also had 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 finally has to come to terms with the fact that it is, at long last, about 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 spaceship first comes to Earth's attention, by which time the alien ship is already within the orbit of Venus. Norton and his crew find it surprisingly easy to gain entry to Rama through one of a series of triple airlocks. Indeed, 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. 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 was as compelling now as when I first read it mor than forty years ago. ( )
2 vote Eyejaybee | Sep 14, 2021 |
It's been a little while since I've read much science fiction, particularly any of the sort that Clarke is known for. Forget strong plot or characters and focus entirely around the big idea: In this case, the starship Rama is plenty large.

It starts off quickly, only a few chapters before you're on the ship. From there, you have situation after situation, describing how interesting the world that Clarke has built is and how the explorers react to it. The lack of a more specific antagonist becomes more of a problem towards then end, in that the book just sort of ends. There are various problems throughout the book, but no sense of building. I'm still not entirely sure how much I like this style.

Overall though, I think it's a cool world and I want to know more. Given that the sequels were written many years later and co-written by an author with a somewhat different style (based on the forward in Rama II), it will be interesting to see how different they are. ( )
  jpv0 | Jul 21, 2021 |
After loving Childhoods End, I wanted to check out more by Clark. Rama is different book than I imagined. In a future earth where we've settled the solar system, a large cylindrical spaceship decides to make its way to us. The book explores the interactions with this unknown ship.

It is the first in a four-book series, but it could also be thought of as the first half of a story. I felt somewhat incomplete with the way it ended, although it is as likely an ending as any. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
I recall reading this years ago; I can't remember whether it was a library loan or a paperback I'd acquired. Given the original publication date (1973), I suspect the former. Sort of a first contact story - but not with aliens, just with a mysterious artefact that enters the Solar System. A ship and it's crew are despatched to investigate.

I found it rather ponderous, from the initial info dump all the the way through. It badly needed more lightness - it was pure engineering SF in style, Rama (the artefact) was the enigmatic focus of the story, although ostensibly the crew that was investigating was the focus. I'm told the others in the series are worse.

  Maddz | May 2, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (23 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
Ganim, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jiránek, MiroslavCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Longworth, TobyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sawyer, Robert J.Introductionsecondary 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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Locus ( [1974] | Novel | 1974)
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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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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
An unknown space probe
flies through Earth's solar system;
What is inside it?

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