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4.5 out of 5 stars
Rendezvous With Rama (S.F. Masterworks S.)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2000
I have two critical points about this novel.
Firstly, it is far too short. The fact that it has 46 chapters is abit decieving. I would have prefered Clarke to put more detail into the novel. The characters are pretty poor to say the least - Clarke should have written more about the emotions they were expressing and their background. Generally, the story moves at a very rapid pace and the book can be completed in a day if not two.
Secondly, I was abit annoyed that none of the mysteries about Rama were explained. Okay, maybe this is the beauty of the novel but still I would have liked it if some sense had been made of some of the discoveries inside the cylinder. Maybe Clarke had the sequels in mind when he was writing this novel. Also, the book didn't explain the Hermians reaction to the missile that was sabotaged.
However, saying all this I still think it is a deeply profound novel which makes you think about the possibility of the existance of a higher intelligent being in the Universe.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am not a reader of science fiction; I read this book because it was a choice for a book group. I therefore write this review as a general reader rather than a fan of science fiction.

Rama is an enormous cylindrical spaceship that appears to behave like an asteroid. It is millions of years old yet looks brand new and has come into our solar system and the governments of the occupied planets want to know what it is and why it has come here. A team of astronauts takes a spaceship to Rama to explore its insides.

I loved the sense of wonder that Clarke brings to this tale. His descriptions of the inside of Rama are incredibly detailed and made me feel I was inside it myself. It certainly is a tribute to the application of real science to fiction.

The characters are perhaps less vividly drawn and just a little one dimensional but I suspect that most fans of sci fi don't tend to worry too much about this. It didn't really bother me. Furthermore, there is little suspense in the story. I would not describe it as a page turner.

What did interest me though was the speculation among the astonauts and the governments of the planets as to the origin and purpose of Rama. The book ends without anyone really knowing.

I am very glad to have read this fascinating and intelligent book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
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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