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Rendezvous with Rama

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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 an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists 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 an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, 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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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 an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists 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 an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, 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.

30 review for Rendezvous with Rama

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    It's odd to think that this book was published 40 years ago. I don't know why that strikes me as strange, but it does.... It's tempting for me to call this book "Traditional Science Fiction." Or "Classic Science Fiction" or something along those lines. But what I really mean to say is that this is a story where the science is one of the central aspects of the story. The basic premise of the story is: In the future, humanity finds a alien spacecraft and investigates it. A lot of the joy of explor It's odd to think that this book was published 40 years ago. I don't know why that strikes me as strange, but it does.... It's tempting for me to call this book "Traditional Science Fiction." Or "Classic Science Fiction" or something along those lines. But what I really mean to say is that this is a story where the science is one of the central aspects of the story. The basic premise of the story is: In the future, humanity finds a alien spacecraft and investigates it. A lot of the joy of exploration comes from the theory of how a spaceship might really work in terms of physics. How could you generate gravity on a spaceship? How would it travel? What would the aliens be like? What would the purpose of these various pieces of the ships be? (Such as, for example, a large body of water, or featureless buildings on an island? It's an interesting story, but probably *mostly* interesting for people interested in the genuine science of interstellar/interplanetary travel. For example, if you enjoyed The Martian, you have a good chance of liking this book. (But be warned, the pacing is much different than The Martian. It's not First Person. It's not conversational. It's not painfully technical, but it was written in a different age. Of particular interest to me was the fact that many of the smaller plot arcs of the books were very short. By which I mean to say that when a problem arises in the story, the resolution comes very soon afterwards. That limits the tension of the story somewhat, as you don't have time to get too worried over anything before it's fixed. Lastly, it's important to note that this book ends with many questions unanswered. But the good news is that there are two more books in the series that will explore those questions further, and I trust Clarke to pay me off with good answers by the end of the series. *** Later edit: I read the sequel, and I have to retract my previous statement. The follow-up book severely damaged my opinion of this book to the point where I don't know if I would reccomend it any more. So if you were considering reading this book based on my review, you might want to read this first in order to get the whole story... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    I've been trying to read more classic sci-fi and my experience has been very hit and miss so far... But this was a very interesting take on the whole "first contact with aliens"! I do wish there was a bit more but it seems like I always do. Nevertheless the ending was pretty satisfying, would recommend!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Mysterious and engaging, classic science fiction. I first read this back in high school, we'll just say a LONG time ago. Since then the concepts, ideas and themes surrounding this archetypal work of science fiction have been a huge influence on works in this genre. Clarke first published this Hugo and Nebula award winner in 1972. The first works that I think of that was influenced by RWR is John Varley's excellent Titan series, first coming out in 1979. His influence on Ridley Scott's Alien, also released in 1 Mysterious and engaging, classic science fiction. I first read this back in high school, we'll just say a LONG time ago. Since then the concepts, ideas and themes surrounding this archetypal work of science fiction have been a huge influence on works in this genre. Clarke first published this Hugo and Nebula award winner in 1972. The first works that I think of that was influenced by RWR is John Varley's excellent Titan series, first coming out in 1979. His influence on Ridley Scott's Alien, also released in 1979, is clear. What Clarke did was to affirm that there are and remain mysteries that we will not get, that there are some aspects of scientific research and observation that will remain over our heads. ******2017 reread – I’m advancing my rating, giving this a 5 star. I recall liking it as a younger man, but this is premier, elite SF. Clarke deservedly won the SF triple crown for this work – Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell – as well as a host of other awards including the Locus and British SF Association Award. It’s that good. It should be on a short list of best SF ever. Clarke’s Rama has all of what’s best in a SF story: future science, intrepid explorers, contact with aliens, space, rockets, and mystery. That last element is what wins here, we know about the Ramans, but not all about them by a long shot, there is still much more to know. He has, and we have vicariously through his story, only just scratched the surface of knowledge and what is learned, decades worth of knowledge according to Commander Norman, only leads to more questions. Excellent, Science Fiction of the highest order.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cassy

    Ladies, have you ever heard the advice that the more you cover up, the sexier you are? Forgo the plunging neckline for the small keyhole. Let the boys use their imagination. Hint, but don’t show. Clarke evidently had. He dressed this book in a turtleneck, elbow-length gloves, trousers, work boots, and one of those hats with ear flaps. There is barely any flesh showing. What does show is intriguing – a mysterious spaceship, a beautiful flower, an unknown destination, buildings with no doors or wind Ladies, have you ever heard the advice that the more you cover up, the sexier you are? Forgo the plunging neckline for the small keyhole. Let the boys use their imagination. Hint, but don’t show. Clarke evidently had. He dressed this book in a turtleneck, elbow-length gloves, trousers, work boots, and one of those hats with ear flaps. There is barely any flesh showing. What does show is intriguing – a mysterious spaceship, a beautiful flower, an unknown destination, buildings with no doors or windows, living machines. But the book stops the courtship at the flirting stage. Nothing happens. No answers. No aliens massacring the human exploration team. While this was a nice departure from books nowadays that reveal everything, it was ultimately unsatisfying. Clarke withheld too much for me to really enjoy the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    An enormous alien structure enters our solar system and a team is dispatched to explore it before it drifts away and is lost forever. What will humanity discover after its Rendezvous with Rama? Years ago, I decided I needed to read more hard science fiction. Then I read Ringworld and was so uninterested that I quit my hard sf quest before it began. Months ago, a copy of Rendezvous with Rama fell into my clutches. I decided to give it a try, despite my fears that it would be another Ri An enormous alien structure enters our solar system and a team is dispatched to explore it before it drifts away and is lost forever. What will humanity discover after its Rendezvous with Rama? Years ago, I decided I needed to read more hard science fiction. Then I read Ringworld and was so uninterested that I quit my hard sf quest before it began. Months ago, a copy of Rendezvous with Rama fell into my clutches. I decided to give it a try, despite my fears that it would be another Ringworld, a book where the concept far outweighs the story. Well, the concepts behind Rendezvous with Rama do outweigh the story but I found it far superior to Ringworld, a much more enjoyable reading experience. As near as I can tell, Rendezvous with Rama is the first Big Dumb Object (or Megastructure, if you prefer) science fiction novel. For that reason alone, I'd say it's worth a read. Hell, that's why I read it. The characters are weak but I think that's actually an asset for a story like this. My problem with Ringworld was that I didn't find any of the characters likeable and that overshadowed any sense of discovery I would have felt as they explored Ringworld. In Rama, the characters take a back seat to the Big Dumb Object from the first page. Clarke's writing is workmanlike but does a surprisingly good job at conveying the wonder and majesty of Rama as the team explores it. As things heat up the closer Rama gets to the sun (see what I did there?), the book really takes off. With today's special effects technology, I think it would be fantastic if an adaptation was filmed like a faux-documentary. Like that Mermaid one National Geographic put out, only not so cheesey. I liked it but I didn't love it. There's not a lot of plot or character development. Or action, for that matter. Now that I've read it, I respect its place in the hard science fiction pantheon but the sense of wonder doesn't make up for its shortcomings so a three is as high as I can give it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1973. Set in the 2130s, the story involves a 50-kilometre (31 mi) cylindrical alien starship that enters the Solar System. The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards upon its release, and is regarded as one of the corn Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama is a science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1973. Set in the 2130s, the story involves a 50-kilometre (31 mi) cylindrical alien starship that enters the Solar System. The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards upon its release, and is regarded as one of the cornerstones in Clarke's bibliography. The concept was later extended with several sequels. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در سال 1995 میلادی این کتاب نخستین بار با ترجمه محمد قصاع در سال 1371 هجری خورشیدی در نشر افق نیز منتشر شده است عنوان: میعاد با راما ؛ نویسنده: آرتور سی. کلارک؛ مترجم: هرمز حبیبی اصفهانی؛ تهران نشر نقطه، 1374، در 268 ص، شابک: ایکس - 964554825 ادامه این داستان با عنوان «راما 2» یا «ادامه میعاد با راما» با ترجمه ناصر بلیغ در نشر نقطه در سال 1375 در 494 ص به چاپ رسیده و به زیور طبع آراسته شده است شابک: 964-5548-27-6 میعاد با راما، راما 2، باغ راما و راز راما، مجموعه‌ ای چهار جلدی از آثار آرتور سی. کلارک هستند، مجموعه‌ ای بینظیر که به روشنی نمایانگر چیره‌ دستی کلارک در خلق داستان‌های علمی تخیلی است. میعاد با راما، حدود 350 صفحه و ابتدای این ماجراست … راما سفینه‌ ای غول پیکر و استوانه‌ ای شکل است که با سرعت سرسام آوری گرد محور خویش می‌چرخد … از بیکران‌ها گام در منظومه شمسی می‌نهد و دانشمندان آن زمان را متحیر می‌سازد. ا. شربیانی

  7. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    We, the humanity, see quite a lot of comets and meteors flying around. So in the future (fairly distant) nobody cared much about yet another such visitor until astronomers realized it had an ideal cylindrical form. At this point it did not take a genius to realize its artificial origin. Luckily there was a spaceship nearby to catch up with the guest (named Rama) before it disappears into depths of space. This is the story about the ship's crew exploring dead alien derelict and the reaction of th We, the humanity, see quite a lot of comets and meteors flying around. So in the future (fairly distant) nobody cared much about yet another such visitor until astronomers realized it had an ideal cylindrical form. At this point it did not take a genius to realize its artificial origin. Luckily there was a spaceship nearby to catch up with the guest (named Rama) before it disappears into depths of space. This is the story about the ship's crew exploring dead alien derelict and the reaction of the rest of the humans to their findings. The real rating is not 5 stars by the way; it is only 4.5. The characters were quite flat and not exactly life-like. For this reason I understand why some readers did not like the book. It is however not about people. It is about incomprehensible wonders of alien technology - just hasty brief glimpses of it. This sense of wonder present through the whole book and that is the reason for the high rating. I can only recall one other science fiction book which has the same sense of alien wonders: Roadside Picnic (Red's Zone adventures to be exact). Arthur C. Clark does outstanding job between being descriptive, but not overly so. His descriptions are brief enough to never become boring, yet they always give you good picture of what the explorers see. This takes some real skill to accomplish. Modern popular writers fall into two extremes when it comes to descriptions: non-stop absolutely unnecessary long ones (George R.R. Martin), or no descriptions whatsoever (Steven Erikson). My advice to both of these guys: read this book and learn. Read it one more time and learn better. Continue reading it until you are able to deliver an excellent tale in under 150 pages. So if you are looking for great flawed characters look elsewhere. Otherwise the story is really good and highly recommended. The common wisdom is that the following books are much weaker. Unlike this one they are written in collaboration with Gentry Lee and collaborations rarely work, in my opinion. Reading the descriptions of the book 2 and its reviews I became convinced that I am not interested to continue the series. Fortunately first book works well as a standalone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    There was just enough detail to go with the all the mystery behind the alien ship hurtling through the solar system to make Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama an engaging and thought provoking read! Other than a spaceflight to intercept and explore the huge Raman spacecraft, there’s very little action in this novel and (unfortunately) very little character development. I do think there is a sense of wonder about the possibilities contained in the mysterious ship. The book whets your appetit There was just enough detail to go with the all the mystery behind the alien ship hurtling through the solar system to make Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama an engaging and thought provoking read! Other than a spaceflight to intercept and explore the huge Raman spacecraft, there’s very little action in this novel and (unfortunately) very little character development. I do think there is a sense of wonder about the possibilities contained in the mysterious ship. The book whets your appetite to get to the bottom of some of the mysteries contained on the Raman spacecraft and maybe even meet some actual Ramans, but (given that the ship has a limited amount of time in the solar system), there are lots of unanswered questions. While Clarke doesn’t explain all the mysteries, that’s also a strength of the novel. We as readers supply some of our own answers about the possibilities. This makes Rendezvous with Rama an engaging read! 3.75 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    Rendezvous With Rama starts off where lesser books would climax. To begin with parts of Italy are wiped out by an asteroid leading to the creation of the Spaceguard system for detecting future asteroids well in advance of collision so that preventative measures can be taken. Along comes another huge object initially mistaken for another asteroid but as it draws nearer turns out to be a ginormous spaceship with no apparent mean of propulsion. The ship is given the named Rama and the crew of Earth Rendezvous With Rama starts off where lesser books would climax. To begin with parts of Italy are wiped out by an asteroid leading to the creation of the Spaceguard system for detecting future asteroids well in advance of collision so that preventative measures can be taken. Along comes another huge object initially mistaken for another asteroid but as it draws nearer turns out to be a ginormous spaceship with no apparent mean of propulsion. The ship is given the named Rama and the crew of Earth's survey ship Endeavour land on it and enter to investigate. This is the father of the popular Big Dumb Object sci-fi trope which features humongous alien artifacts befuddling humanity when they are discovered or unexpectedly show up. I just reread this book immediately after finishing another BDO classic Gateway by Frederik Pohl. Gateway totally confounded my expectation because while it features a BDO the focus of the book is on the impact of this object on the life of the protagonist. Being confounded in this case is not too unpleasant as Gateway is a good though provoking read. However, it still left me with a hankering for some BDO adventure and Rendezvous With Rama provided this in spades. This book really is what it says on the tin and if you are in the market for some jaw dropping sense of wonder this is the one to pick up. Arthur C. Clarke was a stupendous writer of sf, unlike a lot of scientist sf authors he could write with excellent transparency and clarity of vision. He is particularly brilliant at describing the minutiae of space voyages; just the simple act of walking up and down stairs in near zero gravity can become a vivid and fascinating adventure in his stories. Certainly with "Rama" Clarke gets a lot of millage from the cylindrical shape of Rama, the gravitational and centrifugal effects, the weather, the visual impact of the north and south poles, the sea as a cylindrical band etc. My favourite Rama art by Jim Burns That said it is worth noting that this is a novel of exploration, not essentially a pulse pounding action adventure on a dangerous planet, although there is an element of that also. The emphasis is more on the sense of wonder than sense of danger. There are many vividly imagined scenes in this book so clearly described that if you do an image search for "Rendezvous With Rama" on on Google you will find quite a few excellent artworks inspired by this book, a similar search on Youtube will also yield quite a few fan made videos (this short student film is my favrorite). As usual Clarke did not write with literary flourishes and characterization was clearly not a priority for him. I find the central characters of this book almost interchangeable in their blandness. However I am not sure this is a weakness of Clarke's writing because his books are generally not very long and by not allocating many pages on developing the characters he is able to do a lot of world building, describing the minutiae and implications of his settings, and a spring a few surprises on his readers from his plotting. I feel that Rendezvous With Rama complements Phol's Gateway very nicely, one is about the BDO, the other is about the psychological impact of a BDO. I recommend reading both. Another view of Rama (don't know who it's by, sorry).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Workmanlike Prose: "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke Ah, yes. Rama. I actually read this with a torch under the blankets in an intense all-nighter back in the day. What I like about this book in retrospect is its complete lack of compromise as a work of SF. Characters? Who the frack needs 'em. Themes? Bah, pointless! All SF needs to be is an unbroken, brilliantly done description of an alien environment. I'm If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Workmanlike Prose: "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke Ah, yes. Rama. I actually read this with a torch under the blankets in an intense all-nighter back in the day. What I like about this book in retrospect is its complete lack of compromise as a work of SF. Characters? Who the frack needs 'em. Themes? Bah, pointless! All SF needs to be is an unbroken, brilliantly done description of an alien environment. I'm glad things have moved on since, but I'd still happily sit and read a book so single-mindedly in its purpose like this one.   In any genre of literature, you definitely have some people whose names tower above everyone else, and their influence could not be denied. However, people who like literature don't just read the so-called greats. Clarke certainly wrote some seminal works of SF, but he probably read many obscure works too, some of which may have influenced him. Readers don't just read the big name writers, but have a much bigger interest in the genre. A writer’s work only makes sense within a tradition and how it is situated along other people's work. It is all interlinked and some of the smaller voices may be bigger than critics acknowledge. For instance Clarke's influences aren't as well-known but what he learned from them is part of his work, so the voices remain powerful, and readers equally value preceding works. That doesn't mean that the big name writers don't deserve their place in history, but as fan of literature, I think sometimes, the bigger contributions are made by lesser known writers. I disagree with the assessment that Clarke left questions unanswered; world-building can get boring at the micro, non-plot-related level. This book was "sensawunda" in triplicate -- for the Ramans always did everything in threes. How about those tripodal cleansing things that whirled about? I'm not disappointed that Clarke had no sequel; when you look at 2001 on the screen, then read Clarke's rejected worlds, you realise that Kubrick was right to end with the “Star Child”.      If you're into SF, read on.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I originally read this in junior high, when I first eagerly devoured all the writings of the "Big 3". This reread is part of a project to revisit the classics I read in my youth, now with my pesky adult brain in tow. Rendezvous with Rama is pretty much the prototype for what people complain about when they say "they don't make 'em like they used to." It is also, by consequence, exactly what others are criticizing when they say "they shouldn't make 'em like that anymore." It is essentially a I originally read this in junior high, when I first eagerly devoured all the writings of the "Big 3". This reread is part of a project to revisit the classics I read in my youth, now with my pesky adult brain in tow. Rendezvous with Rama is pretty much the prototype for what people complain about when they say "they don't make 'em like they used to." It is also, by consequence, exactly what others are criticizing when they say "they shouldn't make 'em like that anymore." It is essentially a hard sci-fi narrative centered around scientific discovery and methodical problem solving by its hyper-competent hero(es). It is an exciting story filled with all manner of wondrous events and inventions and landscapes to explore, and can easily be enjoyed at face value, hence the four stars. It's a darn good read, no question. What I have recently noticed upon re-evaluating our holy trinity of Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein, is that their sins were the collective sins of the Anglo-American golden age of sci-fi. There is very little in the way of emotional engagement with the characters, and Clarke in particular seems to regard other humans and their behavior with clinical interest at most - as if the inner life of his characters is only a necessary component of their existence insofar as it can explain their choices or their responses to stimuli. The social sciences were also poorly represented by these authors and their colleagues; being almost wholly obsessed with hard science, their future histories feel more like they were engineered in a controlled experiment, rather than having developed from any of the cultural conflicts and movements that really shape history. Science fiction will always date badly in some ways, because speculating about the future based on present day understandings is never going to be 100% accurate; however, the future society posited in Rendezvous with Rama is impossibly naïve in its conception and comes across as surprisingly reactionary, especially since Clarke was usually lumped in with the political left in the SF community. I know, I know, "That's just how things were done back then!" There were plenty of writers from the olden timey days who didn't, though. There's a reason why John W. Campbell hated PKD's writing, for example. And also, there are plenty of authors who still do it that way (have you read Neal Stephenson?) As a time capsule work, though, Rama is almost peerless in its execution, and definitely worth the read, even if our modernized adult brains have to let a few things slide to make it work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scurra

    For heaven's sake, don't expect great writing from this book. For all his talent, Clarke wasn't a wordsmith (heck, even Asimov could write better!) Instead, simply glory in one of the cleverest conceits you will ever read - an encounter with an alien civilisation in which the aliens are absent and there is no convenient "universal translator" to explain things. Slowly you can begin to piece things together, keeping maybe one step ahead of the astronauts, but you become aware that trying to under For heaven's sake, don't expect great writing from this book. For all his talent, Clarke wasn't a wordsmith (heck, even Asimov could write better!) Instead, simply glory in one of the cleverest conceits you will ever read - an encounter with an alien civilisation in which the aliens are absent and there is no convenient "universal translator" to explain things. Slowly you can begin to piece things together, keeping maybe one step ahead of the astronauts, but you become aware that trying to understand Raman culture is like trying to appreciate the Sistene Chapel ceiling without ever having read the Bible - you could create an explanation, but it would be utterly and magnificently wrong. All I ask is that you don't make the mistake of going on and reading the pointless sequels. Yes, I understand why they were written, but I can never forgive them for ruining the magic of the original. Just take this one and enjoy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~

    This book was SO BORING. Wow. I did not care about any of these characters, they were only slightly different demeanor-wise, which I guess could be believable among astronauts, but it made for a really lacking characterization element. Even during parts of the plot where danger was ensuing I felt no sense of danger & I had no feelings of hoping that the character in danger survived. In this novel women hardly served a further purpose than to be a distraction for or sleep with the men. Sure they carried titles of This book was SO BORING. Wow. I did not care about any of these characters, they were only slightly different demeanor-wise, which I guess could be believable among astronauts, but it made for a really lacking characterization element. Even during parts of the plot where danger was ensuing I felt no sense of danger & I had no feelings of hoping that the character in danger survived. In this novel women hardly served a further purpose than to be a distraction for or sleep with the men. Sure they carried titles of importance but their actions didn't line up with their titles. And the men they're distracting are some of the flattest men I've ever read about so it's kind of a stretch for me to believe anyone would want to sleep with them. The plot was also pretty weak, I never felt much of an urge to continue finding out what was going to happen. And then the end of book was entirely anticlimactic. I know this is a huge classic amongst Sci-Fi lovers but I cannot even begin to understand which part everyone loves so much. On top of that, there is absolutely zero payoff for all that boring ass build up. I struggled through this book at the recommendation of a friend. I've read that the next books are much better & that Clarke had a co-writer with him. I may give the sequel a chance but only after I've gargled a gallon of Listerine to get the bad taste out of my mouth.

  14. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    i like world-building in science fiction and fantasy. in these modern times, extensive world-building is commonly derided... it is often seen as a lazy way to create a world, telling not showing, an author so in love with something they've built that they just want to describe instead of allowing the reader to slowly experience. i understand that point of view; world-building can often be seen as a glorified, masturbatory info-dump. but for some reason, it just doesn't bother me too much. i thin i like world-building in science fiction and fantasy. in these modern times, extensive world-building is commonly derided... it is often seen as a lazy way to create a world, telling not showing, an author so in love with something they've built that they just want to describe instead of allowing the reader to slowly experience. i understand that point of view; world-building can often be seen as a glorified, masturbatory info-dump. but for some reason, it just doesn't bother me too much. i think this is because with good world-building, i feel like i am looking at a kind of work of art created by the author - a rather nerdy work of art, sure - but still something that a person has put a lot of thought, energy, and passion into. i really respond to all those details that the author is in love with sharing. but maybe i just have a high threshold for these kinds of things, as i'm also the kind of person who likes to hear all the details in a person's dreams. Rendezvous takes world-building to a different sort of place: Clarke is artifact-building. the amazing alien spaceship Rama is indeed amazing; almost the entire novel is devoted to exploring this gigantic vessel. most of the narrative is in service to purely descriptive passages of Rama; everything else is either minimal characterization or political discussions from various scientists & ambassador types about how to respond to Rama. all of this very focused world-building has the potential for much boredom and irritation. but i never felt that; the author's love for his creation is too clear, his details are too meticulous, his sense of wonder and his ability to concretely illustrate the almost-unknowable are too skilled, too palpable. despite my feeling that this novel essentially functions as a prologue to the 'real' action to come, i got caught up in Clarke's passion and enjoyed it all. for such a man of science and large-scale concepts, Clarke is a surprisingly warm writer. his characters are pleasant - and real. there are no grand villains, at least not in this initial volume of the series. and he has a sense of humor - particularly around sex (one character is described as having no interest in anything outside of work, except for sports and sex - preferably combined; a high-level scholar is described as originally making his reputation through researching "puberty rites in late-twentieth-century Beverly Hills"). for all of the high-falutin' ideas on display, there is zero pretension present in Rendezvous. although the novel ends before anything actually happens, there does seem to be interesting directions that the series could go. the slight mining of sexuality and gender roles could lead somewhere. and politics - particularly around how government responds to the unknown - are clearly an intriguing next step. i'm looking forward to seeing how this series pans out. all that said, as far as Giant Mysterious Alien Artifacts go, right now my favorite is still Greg Bear's Eon - which in many ways appears to be an homage to Rama.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    This is one of my all-time favorite science fiction novels. Arthur C. Clarke's 1973 classic made a clean sweep of the genre's awards, winning the Campbell, Hugo, Jupiter, and Nebula awards. The concept of the story is brilliant. The planet sized, spinning, cylindrical world of Rama is the star of the story, featuring a sea that circles the inside of the cylinder. The visuals created by Clarke were stunning. What will mankind make of this interstellar traveling alien world? I loved it, couldn't p This is one of my all-time favorite science fiction novels. Arthur C. Clarke's 1973 classic made a clean sweep of the genre's awards, winning the Campbell, Hugo, Jupiter, and Nebula awards. The concept of the story is brilliant. The planet sized, spinning, cylindrical world of Rama is the star of the story, featuring a sea that circles the inside of the cylinder. The visuals created by Clarke were stunning. What will mankind make of this interstellar traveling alien world? I loved it, couldn't put it down.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Will M.

    “But at least we have answered one ancient question. We are not alone. The stars will never again be the same to us.” I remember promising to read more /classic/ SciFi books last 2014 and so far I've failed. I can only remember the Ender series (I haven't even read the last book of the original quintet) and The Martian being my /classic/ SciFi reads since 2014. I have a vast interest in space, aliens, space opera... well SciFi in general but I have to honest and say that I'm a but intimidated t “But at least we have answered one ancient question. We are not alone. The stars will never again be the same to us.” I remember promising to read more /classic/ SciFi books last 2014 and so far I've failed. I can only remember the Ender series (I haven't even read the last book of the original quintet) and The Martian being my /classic/ SciFi reads since 2014. I have a vast interest in space, aliens, space opera... well SciFi in general but I have to honest and say that I'm a but intimidated to tackle the hardcore ones. I always watch movies, documentaries, and TV series that are SciFi related (even hard SciFi) but reading has always been an issue. This time though I told myself, fuck it, it's been way too long since I made that promise and boy am I glad that I finally read one. Ridiculously good choice too, all thanks to amazon for having the $1.99 deal on the omnibus. Rendezvous with Rama is all about a space exploration into Rama. An identified space object yet unidentified purpose for... existing. The plot is absolutely amazing. It's fun to read about how they slowly find out about Rama and what's inside. I like books that are heavy on the world building and character development, unfortunately this novel only had the world building. The book (for me) is way too short and deserves so much more, but there are 3 more books in the series so there's that. I admired the mysteriousness of Rama, and that helped me want to finish the novel faster. I didn't even expect to read the next novel right away because I have a pile of books waiting already, but I can't prolong it anymore. I've heard mixed reviews of the next 3 books (especially the second one) but I'm still willing to gamble considering I enjoyed Speaker for the Dead more than I did Ender's Game. I heard the second one is a lot more political, and that got me even more excited! Even by the twenty-second century, no way had yet been discovered of keeping elderly and conservative scientists from occupying crucial administrative positions. Indeed, it was doubted if the problem ever would be solved. It's weird how I didn't really expect an alien encounter or a space battle in this novel. No spoilers will be given though, so I won't dwell much on that matter anymore. (view spoiler)[ Well, there is no real encounter with an alien here, or even a space battle. Just a vague hint in the end though, and that made me really want to read the next novel right away. I'm hoping for aliens and space battles in the next ones but if there will be none, then I hope for world building just as splendid as this. (hide spoiler)] I did have an issue with the novel, hence the 4 star rating. The character development is heavily lacking. I'm a type of reader that relies on character development as much as the plot development so it's a bit of an issue for me. Maybe hardcore SciFi novels have less character development? I'm honestly not sure but I will read this novel again in the future and hopefully I could turn that 4 star rating into a 5. 4.5/5 stars. Strongly recommended even for those who know nothing about space. It is NOT full of jargons and the author actually wrote it in layman's terms for the most part so it shouldn't be a much of a problem.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Rendezvous With Rama is the best and worst of classic pulp science fiction. The sciencey stuff is neato and the plot is exciting; philosophically, it raises some good questions. But the prose is functional at best, and the characters are wooden. If you can get past that, it's a great book. If you can't, most science fiction is maybe not for you. Clarke is given to breathless, pulpy sentences like this: "It was a good plan - and it failed completely." Which, I mean, I appreciate a good pul Rendezvous With Rama is the best and worst of classic pulp science fiction. The sciencey stuff is neato and the plot is exciting; philosophically, it raises some good questions. But the prose is functional at best, and the characters are wooden. If you can get past that, it's a great book. If you can't, most science fiction is maybe not for you. Clarke is given to breathless, pulpy sentences like this: "It was a good plan - and it failed completely." Which, I mean, I appreciate a good pulpy sentence, but it's tempting to snicker a little. And the crew members are just chess pieces: when Jimmy Pak shows up with a conveniently smuggled flying machine, you've never even heard his name before. It feels like Clarke had the basic plot mapped out, but invented the rest as he went. The basic plot is that a big-ass mystery space ship shows up and humanity has to figure out why and what to do with it. There are a range of possible responses to a big-ass mystery space ship, and each of them is explored intelligently. The book doesn't completely resolve; it's the first of a series, and Clarke wants you to read the rest of them too. Clarke was known as one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers of the mid-to-late 20th century, along with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. It's an odd team: Clarke and Asimov had major philosophical differences with Heinlein, who became a radical conservative lunatic. Heinlein's books were always fairly political. Asimov, the most talented prose stylist, wrote what amount to very clever space puzzles. Clarke seems like maybe the best pure storyteller of them, and Rendezvous With Rama is a highly entertaining book. Take it for what it is; it isn't George Orwell. But I tore through it. There are worse things than pulp science fiction, and this is about as good as pulp science fiction gets.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    5.0 stars. One of the best first contact novels ever. The ability of Clarke to bring a high level of detail regarding the mechanics of the expedition without having the story get bogged down is a rare thing. This novel succeeds brilliantly. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: (tie) John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Ficti 5.0 stars. One of the best first contact novels ever. The ability of Clarke to bring a high level of detail regarding the mechanics of the expedition without having the story get bogged down is a rare thing. This novel succeeds brilliantly. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: (tie) John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction Novel Winner: British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This was a fun read. It was very typical classic sci-fi with no character development, lots of adventure and mystery packed in a 200 page novel of awesome goodness. It wasn’t long and drawn out like most books today. It was one of those small treasures not many people know about but should. I got sick of all the modern alien invasion stories but this one is different which was refreshing. Sometimes I like simple characters but a larger-picture-kind-of-story. If you’re like me this one is for you This was a fun read. It was very typical classic sci-fi with no character development, lots of adventure and mystery packed in a 200 page novel of awesome goodness. It wasn’t long and drawn out like most books today. It was one of those small treasures not many people know about but should. I got sick of all the modern alien invasion stories but this one is different which was refreshing. Sometimes I like simple characters but a larger-picture-kind-of-story. If you’re like me this one is for you.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Othy

    "Rendezvous with Rama" is the perfect example of a great idea executed in the worst possible way. The concept behind the plot really captured my attention and had me dreaming of possibilities, but the plot itself, as well as Clarke's writing style, was not even anti-climactic: it was the height of boring. First, Clarke should be noted as having a particular style, something that (unfortunately) not many sci-fi writers have. He has his own voice, his own turns of phrase and, if I had to look at a "Rendezvous with Rama" is the perfect example of a great idea executed in the worst possible way. The concept behind the plot really captured my attention and had me dreaming of possibilities, but the plot itself, as well as Clarke's writing style, was not even anti-climactic: it was the height of boring. First, Clarke should be noted as having a particular style, something that (unfortunately) not many sci-fi writers have. He has his own voice, his own turns of phrase and, if I had to look at a paragraph of his a year from now, I could probably attribute it to him. The problem is that his style is terrible. Much of the time it felt like I was reading a textbook, though often enough Clarke's style was worse. It was as if a robot had gained the ability to write novels and idly typed this one out. Characters "cautiously increase their mutual separation," for example, and everything seems to be described with a cold distance. Perhaps this'd be fine in another book, but this is supposed to be an -adventure story-. Where's the excitement? Where's the sense of discovery? No where. Anything resembling "discovery" is muddled behind a thick mist of technical, misplaced vocabulary. People often wonder why things like "poetic diction" came about, and this book answers the question rather nicely: science-y, exact writing doesn't make for very good narration. I could have looked past the style issues had the plot or the characters had been (in any sense of the word) strong, but unfortunately they were worse. Each character proceeds through Rama (and the plot) as if they were machines. Every now and again they talk of a bit of fear or strange feelings, though these are destroyed by the poor style, pushed away with some sort of scientific "stoicism" or else explained as purely natural phenomenon (once a character had an eerie sense of 'doom,' but realized it was just simple build up of electricity). I've known a few scientists and am friends with one or two, and I doubt that they would act so dispassionate. Most I know are excited, interested and creative people who love their work and (like everyone else) can get swept away in the moment. People don't, and wouldn't, act like this. So I'm left with the feeling of having read 250 pages of a story about robots "exploring" a world where very little happens that is written by a robot. How could this story have been boring? How could so little have happened? How could there be not a single memorable character? Where is the mystery, the joy of exploration? If the future is filled with such dead explorers and so little to explore than I pity the future generations.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ova - Excuse My Reading

    I've read this book when I wasn't even 20 and would love to re-read sometime. I know hardcore sci-fi books are not too much fun to read, especially if they are in the space (My eyes bled while I read 2001: A Space Odyssey) but I remember really enjoying parts of this book, although overall finding it very long.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book was my introduction to Arthur C. Clarke, and I happened to read it just before he died. I wasn't sure what to expect. My friend lent me his copy, which was printed in the early 90's and looked pretty pulpy. And the title? But I really enjoyed it. Written in the 70's, but the science wasn't painfully outdated, except he hadn't foreseen just how small and complicated our computers would become even in a few years. Not badly written for a scientist, and he passes my sexism test. (I frowne This book was my introduction to Arthur C. Clarke, and I happened to read it just before he died. I wasn't sure what to expect. My friend lent me his copy, which was printed in the early 90's and looked pretty pulpy. And the title? But I really enjoyed it. Written in the 70's, but the science wasn't painfully outdated, except he hadn't foreseen just how small and complicated our computers would become even in a few years. Not badly written for a scientist, and he passes my sexism test. (I frowned a little when one of the characters had two wives--but a couple chapters later a woman had multiple husbands, so no complaints.) In a nutshell, a newly discovered comet, Rama, turns out to be an enormous spaceship headed for the sun. We scramble to intercept it, but the astronauts have only a few weeks before Rama will come too close to the sun and they'll have to head back home. Clarke created a strange and amazing world. The focus is less on character development than to these fairly normal people's reactions to this alien ship. There was a great sense of exploration and adventure and he doesn't blow it by over-explaining. In fact, many of the mysteries are never resolved. By the way, stop at this one. Much as I enjoyed the first Rama book, the second was just plain awful.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    Fascinating, mysterious, and imbued with a rare and spectacular sense of wonder. And happily concise, intelligent, and even occasionally funny. This was my first Arthur C. Clarke novel and it will definitely not be my last.

  24. 4 out of 5

    El

    I wouldn't necessarily say I'm a scientific person. I didn't do so great in science classes in high school (fuck you, Chemistry!) outside of Biology because that biology makes sense and because, I dunno, that whole science thing can be so boring to me. There's a lot of numbers, and I remember something about a mole bridge, and most things are pretty black and white and I'm the kind of kid that likes gray areas. It's a wonder that my boyfriend and I were even friends, ever, let alone in a relationship - he's al I wouldn't necessarily say I'm a scientific person. I didn't do so great in science classes in high school (fuck you, Chemistry!) outside of Biology because that biology makes sense and because, I dunno, that whole science thing can be so boring to me. There's a lot of numbers, and I remember something about a mole bridge, and most things are pretty black and white and I'm the kind of kid that likes gray areas. It's a wonder that my boyfriend and I were even friends, ever, let alone in a relationship - he's all about black and white and I'm all snoooze. I've read a few things by Clarke over the years, usually at the suggestion of the boyfriend, because apparently Clarke was one of those authors he read a lot as a kid because he was never quite a kid, I'm pretty sure. So, to be a team player, I've read Clarke but I'm always left feeling like there's going to be an exam at the end of the reading. Clarke can be dry and not very exciting to those of us who aren't into math and science and like a little color in our lives. I can see the appeal of Clarke, to some people. The premise of this book even sounds interesting, and even starts out promisingly. Scientists observe an asteroid and give it a numerical name as scientists are apt to do, but it turns out that it's not an asteroid! It's an alien spaceship! Ancient Aliens. I'm all over that. I watch that show. It cracks me up. Giorgio Tsoukalos is one of my favorite people ever because he's freaking nuts. Clarke would like Giorgio too. Clarke was into that ancient aliens stuff, so I think we would get along smashingly for that reason alone. But then it's like Clarke didn't want to blow his wad too much too soon, so he kept pulling away from the fun stuff and continued with his dry, rather uninteresting, very scientific text and I never felt I made another connection with the story again. Because I like color. And this book lacked color. This was chosen for the July book in my real life book club because someone suggested wanting to read something "light" because the summer makes some people not want to read? I guess? I'm not familiar with this concept, but people say things like that and I just smile and nod. So that's how we read this. I'll be curious to talk with the others and see how they felt - I thought for a "summer read" this was terribly dry and I wish we had read something a bit more entertaining. Ultimately I just feel that a story about first contact should be more fascinating than this. Giorgio tells me aliens are more fun than this. I'm going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars - the text is really a 2-star read for me, but the fact that I plan on reading the other books in the series means that it wasn't all lost on me. So 3 it is.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Rather than do a synoptic review of "Rama", I'll just go ahead and rave about my absolute favorite part of this book: There are no spoilers to reveal! I suppose that's a spoiler in and of itself, but without going too far over the line, I love how much remains a mystery. This is a sci-fi masterpiece because it retains so much of the science while remaining purely fiction. The professional team that investigate Rama have no clues, they have to make theories and guesses as they go along, and thing Rather than do a synoptic review of "Rama", I'll just go ahead and rave about my absolute favorite part of this book: There are no spoilers to reveal! I suppose that's a spoiler in and of itself, but without going too far over the line, I love how much remains a mystery. This is a sci-fi masterpiece because it retains so much of the science while remaining purely fiction. The professional team that investigate Rama have no clues, they have to make theories and guesses as they go along, and things happen that they don't understand and have to interpret on-the-fly. This isn't one of those campy 50s-style encounters with a flying saucer where a humanoid with a fishbowl on his head says, "Take me to your leader, Earthman." Capt. James T. Kirk doesn't seduce the sexy female leader of the aliens before freeing a whole planet in melodramatic fashion. These are scientists studying one DARN mysterious object, but at the same time they are humanized just enough to make them less than cardboard cut-outs. As I read "Rama" I had the feeling that I was reading an account of an encounter as I would imagine it happening. We humans are given a thing to study. Some things we discover and understand (or think we do), some things we don't, and the all-important aspect is that Clarke leaves some mysteries intact. Thanks Clarke, for leaving me for days going, "But what about the...?!" without going too far and having me curse you for not telling me anything.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Giant alien spaceship is sighted. People go and check it out. It's full of cool stuff. Clarke adds some sex to show that he isn't just a holdout from the Golden Age, but his heart's not in it. As soon as they've finished, he wants to go out and explore the spaceship again. I can see his girlfriend rolling her eyes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    Rendezvous with Rama is one of those strange cases (which seem to happen to me a lot), where I remember more about my life while I was reading a book than the about the book itself. I remember liking it, and I have vague recollections of the Raman robot beings and the weirdness of Rama's interior, but that's about all I can conjure from the book. But everything surrounding my reading of the book is vivid. I was on my way to Stratford, Ontario to see The Three Musketeers, Hamlet, The I Rendezvous with Rama is one of those strange cases (which seem to happen to me a lot), where I remember more about my life while I was reading a book than the about the book itself. I remember liking it, and I have vague recollections of the Raman robot beings and the weirdness of Rama's interior, but that's about all I can conjure from the book. But everything surrounding my reading of the book is vivid. I was on my way to Stratford, Ontario to see The Three Musketeers, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Ernest and Titus Andronicus at the Shakespeare festival, and I decided to take a detour to visit my cousin. When I got there, however, an emergency had taken him out of town, so I was given the keys by a neighbour and told to make myself at home for the weekend. I spent most of that weekend walking around town talking to the woman I loved on my cellphone (at very long distance), eating at the local pub, and hanging out in my cousin's coolly humid, Ontario basement, where I watched two movies that have stuck with me even though I've never seen them again: The Boondock Saints and The Passion of Ayn Rand. The former was a favourite of Criston's, and it was in its first shine of cult hit-dom when I rented it from the local video store. I watched it to feel closer to her, separated as we were to be for over a week. It was okay. Not my favourite, but it did star Young Indiana Jones (and since I have always been a huge fan of Indy, I was willing to cut it lots of slack). But it finished uneventfully and I went back to reading Rendezvous with Rama, surrounded by Elvis. My cousin is an Elvis nut; he actually believes the King is alive and in hiding, and his entire basement is a shrine, a sort of Canadian-basement Graceland. I can't remember the details of Clarke's book, but I can remember a series of Elvis plates that take the King from his youngest days on Ed Sullivan all the way to his fat bellied Live from Hawaii days, and a bookshelf full of Elvis' movie (which I am proud to report I did not watch while I was camped out in the basement). The other movie I watched, The Passion of Ayn Rand, wasn't an intentional rental; it happened to be on the CBC's Passionate Eye late one night, and again, I put it on because of Criston. She was a huge Ayn Rand fan, and she'd made me promise to read The Fountainhead on that very trip; it was waiting in my bag for me to finish Rendezvous with Rama. It was the next book on my list. So there I was amidst a confluence of events: missing Criston, creeping closer to reading her favourite book, and suddenly watching a documentary about her favouite author. The documentary fired me up, so I stayed awake long enough to finish Arthur C. Clarke and moved on to the Ayn Rand -- a book I remember far better than Rendezvous with Rama. So why am I telling you all this? I am telling you this because it illustrates something very dear to me about literature. Like smells, the books I've read conjure powerful memories. They are triggers for entire episodes of my life, or tiny vivid vignettes. They are cues of remembrance that bring back feelings and sights and even sounds. Sure, my memories of Rendezvous with Rama are vague, but not the memories that Rendezvous with Rama evokes. And that makes Rendezvous with Rama as important to my life as any book I've read and can quote scene for scene or word for word. And that puts Rendezvous with Rama firmly and permanently in my personal mythology

  28. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, this is a classic by my favorite of the Grand Masters, Arthur C Clarke. It was also quite thought provoking and philosophical with a touch of creativity. On the other hand, I found it banal and even more problematic, sexist in his depiction of the characters and his projections about futuristic culture. Clarke is always best when pondering philosophy and the nature of mankind. Though he shows some cynicism, I have found him to be mostly op This was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, this is a classic by my favorite of the Grand Masters, Arthur C Clarke. It was also quite thought provoking and philosophical with a touch of creativity. On the other hand, I found it banal and even more problematic, sexist in his depiction of the characters and his projections about futuristic culture. Clarke is always best when pondering philosophy and the nature of mankind. Though he shows some cynicism, I have found him to be mostly optimistic towards the future. The exploration of Rama was handled with a scientist's eye and with the intent to gain knowledge. Clarke's interpretation of how mankind responds was realistic with most of mankind interested in seeking knowledge and a derelict colony that felt that everyone else was naïve and that this entity was there to destroy mankind. I also enjoyed Clarke's spiritual take. Clarke is not afraid to deal with faith in his science fiction , nor is he dismissive of faith. I also admired their do no harm approach with deference to Rama. Adjust to the changing conditions, leave it as they found it. A bit of a positive environmental message there. This book reminded me of two books I'd read previously: Eden by Stanislaw Lem and The Martian by Andy Weir. It is conceivable that Eden, written approximately 20 years earlier was influential. In Eden, a group of nameless explorers land on a planet and start exploring. However in that book the characters act violently immediately in response to everything they don't understand. The paranoia is rampant where the so called "explorers" shoot. They destroyed what they didn't understand. Rama seemed to be Clarke's answer to that. The crew studied the things they didn't understand. They attempted to communicate and find commonality. I was fond of that passive approach which seemed more useful to their ultimate goal. Rama also seems like a book that had significant influence in The Martian. Specifically, the pragmatism, ability to adapt and creativity of the crew in dealing with unforeseen issues and circumstances. In particular, the sky bike and the makeshift tools etc during the course of the exploration. This book was McGyver in space before the Martian. In fact, this book was McGyver before McGyver. The novel had its setbacks as well and while they aren't numerous, they are significant. I found it very tedious. I listened to the novel on Audible and though it is relatively short, it was a chore to get through. The narration was lackluster and I don't think it was just the narrator (though he played a part). For all its sense of wonder, this novel was about 150 pages too long. Additionally, (though admittedly Clarke really doesn't commit to it in a meaningful way. His heart isn't into it) the novel was sexist both in its characterization of women and in its take on futuristic culture. In short, mankind does not evolve. It remains a paternalistic nightmare for women. In this tale a woman can be an engineer, but must share her lover with his several wives on other planets {sigh}. Overall, not Clarke's best by a long shot. Another classic that clunked. I’m adding Rendezvous with Rama to the pile of books that are not as good as they should have been because they were written in the 70s. I'm telling you something happened to creative ability and critical writing skills during that decade… 3 Stars Listened to this on Audible.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Darryl Knickrehm

    Now this is science fiction. A story which is all about the science. No action, no adventure, just a realistic 'what if' scenario that keeps you glued to the page. Awesome. Rama is a first contact story, but without all the fear and Hollywood elements. It is a thoughtful, educated look at what might happen if mankind actually met an alien race. And it is by no means the standard 'they-land-on-earth-and-they-try-to-destroy-it.' The idea of Rama is novel. The way the story unravels is i Now this is science fiction. A story which is all about the science. No action, no adventure, just a realistic 'what if' scenario that keeps you glued to the page. Awesome. Rama is a first contact story, but without all the fear and Hollywood elements. It is a thoughtful, educated look at what might happen if mankind actually met an alien race. And it is by no means the standard 'they-land-on-earth-and-they-try-to-destroy-it.' The idea of Rama is novel. The way the story unravels is intriguing. Everything about the story has a great deal of interest naturally built into it. That isn't to say Rama is perfect, because it's not. The writing itself is very gray, often clunking when read aloud. It is also lacking many characteristics of good writing. For one, it doesn't evoke the senses, or emotional states. It also doesn't have a tone to the narration (the word choice is extremely academic, as if written by a scientist). There is almost no characterization to any characters (we never get to know or understand them really. They feel a lot like the 'biots' of Rama -- bland constructs to serve a single purpose). And it does a poor job describing things (it tells us measurements and academic details, but I still don't have a clear idea what many things look like.) Basically the writing is a sterile, scientific view of a phenomenon. But all this is easy to forgive. And that's because the story is so good. It is constructed in short, concise chapters, and in each of these something major happens. Each of these events build upon the last, developing the situation, answering enough questions, but asking two more for each one answered. And ironically, while there is almost little conflict (the Helian rocket seemed like a poor attempt to ratcheted up the tension; this side-plot could be cut out completely, and the story wouldn't change), there is an immense intrigue built into the mystery of Rama. While this curiosity might not be present for those not interested in science, for those that are, man, oh man, will this ever grip you. Because it's all about unraveling the secrets. There is very little inner monologue, there is very little 'telling,' there is, however, a lot of plot and action. That makes a great story. Clarke might not be the best 'writer' in the world' but brother he is an amazing 'story teller.' The ending especially was satisfying and thought-provoking, and the entire journey was interesting and fun. I enjoyed reading this. It is stories like these that made sci-fi the genre it is today.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    It was only after I’d read Rendezvous with Rama that I found out it was a Big Dumb Object story. I mean, I knew Rama, the mysterious alien spaceshippy thing which appears in our solar system, was an object, and was dumb too – it doesn’t say a word to a soul, not one word – and yes, it was big too, really big. Bigger than a whale! Ten whales! But I didn’t put it all together. However, some critics did, and unkindly pointed out that quite a bit of science fiction is about Big Dumb Objects which humans stumble upon It was only after I’d read Rendezvous with Rama that I found out it was a Big Dumb Object story. I mean, I knew Rama, the mysterious alien spaceshippy thing which appears in our solar system, was an object, and was dumb too – it doesn’t say a word to a soul, not one word – and yes, it was big too, really big. Bigger than a whale! Ten whales! But I didn’t put it all together. However, some critics did, and unkindly pointed out that quite a bit of science fiction is about Big Dumb Objects which humans stumble upon and then spend some time poking or landing on or using a can opener on. Fanboys like to gaze upon their bigness and have a shivery awe-fit. In the SF fanboy world, big is big. I read Eon and Ringworld and sure enough they are all about Big Dumb Objects. “It must be 10,000 kilometers long!” etc. And in The Incredible Shrinking Man everything eventually becomes a Big Dumb Object. That’s what happens if you just carry on shrinking. Course, if you become the incredible growing man, then even mile long spaceships become mere thimbles, and you can wear them on your gigantic fingertips. “I use your mile long spaceships as thimbles, ha harrr!” Actually in Rendezvous with Rama it’s all a bit queasy – astronauts daringly land on it then walk about prodding it and waiting for it to – what – burst into life, exfoliate, produce something, sing - don’t just lie there! – it’s like they’re a bunch of gynaecologists poking around in a stupendously large and complex womb. Maybe Arthur Clarke had problems with his mum, or maybe terrible sibling rivalry – this giant womb is gonna produce a brother or sister who will render earth a smouldering ember! Could be I’m reading too much into all this. But that’s Big Dumb Objects for you, they scream out for interpretation. They’re all in analysis. But they don’t get much out of it. They never speak and they break the analyst’s couch.

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