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on 13 February 2008
A giant cylinder is spotted entering the Solar System and a team of astronauts is sent out to investigate.
The cylinder is unfeasibly vast and (it is discovered) hollow with gravity on the inside of the cylinder produced by centrifugal force. The interior surface is lit by enormous lamps, covered with a variegated landscape and divided in two by a band of sea which exists in a circle around the inside.
Perhaps Clarke's best work, this succeeds (as did Niven's `Ringworld') by its sheer lack of explanation. In fact, the entire novel is, in some ways, an exercise in minimalist adventure, since despite the excitement of the exploration itself and having to rescue a crewmember who becomes stranded on the other side of the central sea, nothing really happens.
One cannot help, however, still being awed by Clarke's depiction of this magnificently vast alien mystery which appears in our Solar System and allows us inside her enormous shell before shortly afterward disappearing.
Again, like Niven's Ringworld, the novel was later lessened by inferior sequels (written in this case in collaboration) and which gradually eroded the awe and mystery which was an integral part of the original books. If you haven't read the Rama sequels you'd be best advised not to bother. The writing is far inferior to Clarke at his best and one suspects that his literary input was minimal.
However, getting back to the original, this is a novel which well deserves the title `classic' and still manages to evoke a sense of wonder set against a background of a universe vast and ultimately unknowable.
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on 4 May 2004
This is without doubt one of the greatest sci-fi novels of all time and you can read it in one sitting.
I loved every bit, from the puzzling astronomical observations when Rama is first spotted in the solar system, to the eventual exploration of the spaceship by the human investigators. There are other things I’d like to highlight but that would spoil the fun for the reader.
It’s one of those books every wannabe sci-fi novelist wishes they had written. Fantastic - literally!
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on 23 May 2010
I'd almost forgotten what 'hard' SF was really like until I read Rendezvous with Rama. It was wonderful to have a story where physics is integral to everything, where speed of light limitations are woven into the story, where the alien artefact has a design that takes physics into account (I'm still pleased that I managed to predict one minor plot element by recalling one of the physical properties of water.)

And how can I fail to love a story that actually takes Coriolis force into account?

The strong grounding in reality makes the whole story feel so much more real. You believe in the characters and in the dangers they encounter, because you know that no 'magic' will be used to rescue them if they get into a tight corner.

Another good point about the focus on hard science is that the book hasn't dated. There were only two small moments when I realise how long ago the book was written. One was when the shape of Rama was compared to a domestic boiler, and the other was a reference to the steady state theory. Apart from those two minor points, the book could have been written yesterday. The laws of physics don't change with fashion.

Clarke can't write in depth characters, but they work reasonably well in this book, and the setting of Rama itself makes the story live.

This was a 9/10 book for me and I'd happily recommend it to anyone.
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on 2 August 2002
It is difficult to overestimate the effect of this ground breaking novel on present day science fiction - hardly anything I read today by writers like Iain Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Peter Hamilton et al escapes its brilliant influence. I read it when it first came out in the late seventies and was staggered by its vision. If many of its insights now seem trite, it is only because they have been re-used by other writers to such a degree that they have become almost commonplace. Like Niven's Ringworld, it has shaped modern day science fiction. That is why it is a classic.
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on 29 March 2001
Arthur C.Clarke uses his towering imagination to the full in this classic SF novel, making the incredible seem plausible. This is a flat-out must for anyone remotely interested in SF, & would probably find a place in most people's SF top 20 - mine included. If I had a slight criticism it is that maybe it's a bit too pat - the people in the story always seem to have everything they need. Also Arthur Clarke's characters are sometimes a bit dry - they never curse or swear, no matter what! But that's Clarke for you. A vivid, enjoyable book. Don't quote me, but I hear there's a movie on the way...
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on 4 December 1999
Any new reader to science fiction should start here. This was written before the days of Luke Skywalker, and long before the USS Voyager boldy went where quite a few plots had been before, but will still amaze, delight and inspire. A book as good as this has no "sell by" date, all the technology is plausable, and strangely not dated in any way. Despite the current fad for TV and film franchise books, it would be nice to think that there's still a little room on our bookshelves for something truly original such as this.
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on 22 July 2012
I haven't read any sc-fi for while having mainlined it all through the eighties. But this was a real classic. Like many of the sc-fi greats Clarke concentrates far more on science and physics than he does character development. But the situations he dreams up keep you engrossed never the less.

This was just a fantastic idea (so I won't spoil it by blabbing about it) but Clarke tells it with such an almost dead pan mundaneness that it makes it seem like it could really happen. This is also backed up with proper grown up physics (most of which I didn't understand!) which underscores the whole story with a solid reality.

The story is told in a lot of very short chapters, each almost a mini story in themselves. The plot gallops along so despite the lack of a compelling central character that guides you through the tale, the story still flies by.

In summary a Sc-fi classic from a master of the art with just the lack of a human narrative keeping it from getting the full 5 stars from me.
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on 26 April 2006
I first read Rendezvous with Rama about 15 years ago and found it an absolutely riveting read. I don't think any SF book I have read since has come near it in terms of instilling an awe-inspiring feeling of wonder and the thrill of exploring the unknown. This is what SF is really about for me and in this book Arthr C Clarke writes it better than anyone else I can think of. Don't expect high literature but revel in the nicely flowing, descriptive prose nonetheless. The one problem with the Masterwoks edition is the rather poxy cover that doesn't do a terribly good job of conveying the story within the pages!
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on 16 January 2008
It's 2130 and Rama, a cylindrical space vessel 50km long by 20km wide has arrived in our solar system. Humanity do not know what it is or where it has come from, only that it is artificial and is passing through our solar system before heading out into deep space again. The only human spaceship that can reach it in time is the Endeavor with its commanding officer Bill Norton.

When the explorers enter Rama, all is dead - there appears to be no activity anywhere. The landscape is strange, although with no geographical features except the frozen sea that separates the north end of Rama from the southern end and city-like structures are seen and named (Paris, New York). As the exploring continues many things are discovered, although none giving any clue at all to what Rama is and why it is here. Their is breathable air at ground level, although the temperatures are well below freezing.

With the sun getting closer, the interior warms and the sea melts. Once this chain of events has happened, Rama comes to life. Robots (biots) are seen carrying out tasks and walking and swimming in Rama. Exploring continues in each of the cities and strange activity starts around what can only be described as the spikes protruding from the southern end of Rama.

My expectations for this book were mixed. I've heard so much about it, yet so little, I really didn't know what to expect other than a huge alien spacecraft turning up in our solar system. What I found was a really nice intriguing read that makes you question everything that is discovered inside Rama. The detailed descriptions given really are wonderful and none of this is unbelievable in any way. The sense of wonder you get when the lights come on and the interior is finally lit up for the explorers to see is great and you can really imagine standing in Rama and taking it in for yourself.

If I had any gripes about this book it would be the characters. Although they're okay as far as characters go, this book really isn't about them and they just help move the plot along enough to get to some more welcome descriptions of Rama and the wonders it contains. The only other thing this book fails to give is any answers, although I can't stress enough how little that matters. It's so nice to read a book that isn't worried about the destination, just that it makes the journey one that you would want to take again and again.
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on 14 October 2014
This one I loved and it compelled me to get the other 2
The title is a little misleading.
I don't know if you'd classs this review as containing spoilers or not so apologies to anyone this spoils it for - I wont tell you detail but as the title of this review says it doesn't exactly reveal Rama in the way I had envisaged.

don't get me wrong it's another slice of the story and I had to read it as I wanted to know more. It's well written and the story holds together reasonably well.

the things I'd like to know about this trilogy (I presume it is only a trilogy) is how much each of the authors contributed and which 'bits' were theirs?

Id also have liked some answers - they might have been in there somewhere but I'm just to dense to realise it. However if they were in there I'd like them to have been simpler to spot.

The truth is I doubt there are any answers in it. It would have been to difficult to explain in detail - a bit like God and the old chestnut ....;if there's a God who or what created Him?'
and so it could have gone on with Rama - who knows how many volumes there would end up being.

As for the over all story...

Vol 1
It started off just like I like them - mysterious and descriptive. ended on a bit of a 'what next?' moment - not a cliff hangar but close.

Vol2
More tension and background - I suspect written a bit later and at the same time as vol 3 because the 'style' is slightly different - perhaps more like any old story in a novel - setting up everything for 'the big reveal'

vol 3

more in the line of vol 2 (both of which seem less "awesome sci fi moments" and more politically correct love story - perhaps that's an over simplification but I did feel at times that 'yes, I get it now get back to the story'

Perhaps I was bit miffed because the first book promised so much and the subsequent 2 each went further and further in a different direction and relied on a bit of a cop out of mysterious substances.....

ACID TEST: Would I buy again - at the moment I doubt it
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