|The insanely ugly cover of my copy|
I've been looking forward to the Vintage Sci-Fi Not-A-Challenge this month, and I collected several books for it. I've been reading a lot of them! My first title was Rendevous With Rama; I've read most of the major Clarke books, but not this one. Clarke is usually more about the concept than about characterization, and that is really obvious here. Rama is the main character, and the people are not terribly distinct. That's OK with me, since I like concept-exploring SF pretty well.
Over 100 years in the future, mankind is spread out over the solar system. Scientists spot an incoming celestial body, but it's not a comet or anything else familiar--it's a ship, a cylinder headed straight for the Sun. The Endeavour is the only human spaceship able to get to the mystery ship (christened Rama) in time, and the crew have only three weeks to learn as much as they can before proximity to the Sun will force them to leave.
Most of the story, therefore, is about exploring Rama. At first, the crew thinks it must be a dead hulk; whatever beings once lived in it must be long gone, having died out in the vast spaces between the stars. But Rama starts to wake up, and Clarke explores ideas about how a self-contained world could work. It sounds very much like the space station in Babylon 5, which must have used some of the ideas.
There were some more Rama books; maybe I'll check them out sometime.
|Awesome event button|