Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rendezvous With Rama

The insanely ugly cover of my copy
Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

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.

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7 comments:

Ekaterina Egorova said...

Clarke's imagination is something unique! I remember reading Childhood's End in one go and then just staring at the ceiling for some time, thinking mainly "What the..." It was amazing.
I haven't read any of the Rama series yet, but I think I will and very soon.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

That cover is the woist.

This is one of my favorite SF novels, easily one of the best. Just pure invention. Who needs any other plot or characters - they just get in the way of what we really want to do, explore the big spaceship.

Jean said...

Ekaterina, I really liked Childhood's End too. I bet you would like the Rama book.

Tom, that sounds about right. I wanted to know a lot more about what the spaceship was about! I've put Rama II on hold at the library.

ipsofactodotme said...

I read one SF last year….bad experience and am filled with dread about starting another book in this genre. Nevertheless, I must step out of my comfort zone once and a while. I saw an interview with Clarke and he impressed me a a very nice person, Since you have read more of his books, could you suggest one a novice could perhaps enjoy?

Jean said...

I'd say start with Childhood's End, which is interesting and not part of a giant series (that I know of). It's pretty good. :)

ipsofactodotme said...

...ok, thanks for the tip!

littleredreviewer said...

It's been years and years since I read this, but I remember loving it. It was a bit of an awakening for me that first read through, that a "thing", could be a main character.