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on 14 November 2005
The presence of a second author is evident from page one. It seems that Gentry Lee is actually the dominant author here, as Clarke's familiar style is barely discernable. The contrast between Rendevous and II is stark and uncomfortable. The former book being at the pinnacle of Sci-Fi literature, the latter being a less-than-average pulp novel and certainly not what you would expect from a giant of the genre.
The plodding and laboured descriptions of the most mundane and irrelevant elements make for frustrating reading if you've been hooked into the mystery and pacing of Rendevous. Background information that Clarke could condense effectively into a single line in Rendevous seem here to be painfully spread out over half a page or more at times.
It is saddening to see what I consider one of the best sci-fi novels of all time have its legacy soured by this and the following series of weak books. I would rather have never known Rama's secrets at all than have them delivered like this.
In fact, if Clarke still has it in him, I'd love to see him write just one Rendevous-sized follow-up that replaces the Gentry Lee sequels and reinstates the mystery and suspense for future generations to enjoy.
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on 15 January 2003
I thought that Rendevous with Rama is one of the best science fiction books of all time. It was mysterious and magical in Arthur C Clarkes great readable style. However I was very disappointed with this follow up.
This was my first book written by both Clarke and Lee and my first impression was that this book was much thicker than RwR. I was quietly shocked to see that Clarkes wonderfuly recongnisable prose style was largely absent. It seems to be watered down by the presence of the other author. I found this book to be a trudge, especially the very slow first half. It is concerned with the characters and it takes nearly a third of the book until we actually get onto Rama at all. One common critism of science fiction is that the charcters are often shallow and poorly developed and this book seems to attempt to answer this. However I found it rather boring at times and was sometimes tempted to skip foward a few chapters to see if things got more interesting.
When the charcters eventually start exploring the new Rama spacecraft things get a little more interesting, but there are some silly details. The lifeforms they discover are sometimes unbelieveable. The disorganised actions of the characters suggest that they are not the super-intelligent group they are supposed to be.
I have now read all the Rama books and this one is the worst. I have read the whole series and found them all to be (except for the first book) a trudge at times, but something compelled me to finish them. I guess I wanted to see what happened and something kept me reading. This book is not awful but it doesn't read like other Arthur C Clarke books. The scientific prose with the uplifting sense of wonder is absent and it reads more like an average book at times. Disappointing but I still enjoyed bits of it.
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on 20 September 2012
On the front of my edition there is only one quote "Clarke is the finest living writer of science fiction"- well ok so it's technically wrong Clarke being dead but it's also highly misleading as the actual author of this book is this far less renowned Gentry Lee. It is also revealing that this quote is not in praise of this particular book and yet is the only quote on the cover!

This book is 90% a Mills and Boon potboilling soap-opera and 9% 1950s Flash Gordon type sci-fi. Only 1% I would suggest is worthy of Clarke and that is perhaps the sum total of his input.

To give an indication - we get to page 170 (a third part through the book) before we get to Rama. The preceding pages are all about the back story of very many unbeguiling characters- none of which is relevant to the scanty plot. It mostly reads like a boring supermarket `mum's-lit' paperback, you will want to skip through all of this.

The journey through space to Rama (distance from earth to Venus) takes less than half a page. The entry to Rama through the air-locks is barely adumbrated on another page. In other words everything you want a ACC novel to be about is excised and replaced with soap-opera type garbage. Why oh why did he team up with this TV producer cum wanabe trash-novelist?

It starts to grind forward more in the second half of the book where they explore New York a little but is still ham-strung by the drawn out murder conspiracy sub- plot (which is more like the entire plot of the book). This sub-plot is without tension - the perpetrator fully revealed early on in the book.

This perhaps is the main problem- lack of plot- There is nothing which drives the reader forward, nothing that holds you gripped. It is rather a desultory stumble through various unconnected happenings (none of them particularly interesting) and interminable character exegesis (none of which adds one iota to the interest of the wooden characters). Nothing new is revealed about the purpose of Rama; there are no interesting sci-fi ideas beyond Flash Gordon type bugaboos. This situation is unbearable in the course of 500 pages. It makes me wonder how Gentry Lee maintained his own interest in the project over what must have been a considerable writing period.

Unfortunately the next in the series `The Garden of Rama' is unbelievably even more risible. Unless you are a speed reader prepared to skip huge chunks this book and it's sequels are best avoided.
Content yourself with the original classic `Rendezvous with Rama' because Rama is one mystery you don't want cleared up by Gentry Lee.
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on 8 October 2004
I'm a huge Clarke fan, but the problem with the novelist is that he skips so frequently between the absolute pinacle of science fiction (2001, Rendevous with Rama) to the lowest soap opera drivel (3001 for example.
I read the first Rama and was gripped by the fasinating scenario; the exploration and wonder of the Rama craft was original and exciting. The book mixed the greatest of sci-fi and great action and was an excellent read -- Rama II is none of these things.
What was Clarke thinking? I agree with him that the characters needed fleshing out, but not put in place of the science. We learn almost nothing new about Rama or its inhabitants. The few creatures we do meet are ridiculously simplistic and can be found in any cheap hollywood flick. The narrative is rambling to the extreme; at one point one of the characters has to enter a 50 digit code, but instead of getting on with the story Clarke rambles on for two pages and descibes to us how the character came to decided on each digit of the code! Ridiculous!
The story goes in depth into a possible conspiracy within the crew; we get chapters and chapters of clues and hints as to who is the culprit and then the story ends...nothing! We never even find out if there is a conspiracy!
Arthur's trademark desciptions of the space voyages are missing here. One minute you are at a party and you litterally turn the page and they are at the space ship. What happened?!
In conclusion, this -- if it were by another author -- could be considered okay; but as this is one of he greatest sci-fi writers even, this novel is pure drivel. If you liked the original, don't ruin it by buying this.
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on 3 April 2013
Having enjoyed the original Rama book I was keen to see how the ideas had been carried forward in this sequel. I couldn't be more disappointed. Rarely have I found a book so difficult to read through to the end, at some points it's as taxing as wading through knee-deep mud. I simply don't believe that Arthur C Clarke co-wrote this - I can barely even believe he read it before allowing his name to be appended to such drivel.

The first third of the book basically consists of a number of ill-conceived and poorly executed character sketches which amount to little more than standard Hollywood character types. Endless back stories for these characters are regurgitated in an attempt to make them interesting; this attempt fails utterly. The pace is so ponderous and barely refers to Rama at all.

In the second third the wondrous and mysterious thing that is Rama serves as backdrop for a misplaced and frankly pathetic murder mystery. It's not until the final third of the book that we see any real Rama action. Until this point the exploration of Rama has been put off for a number of implausible political and safety reasons, with the characters constantly taking naps, just to slow down the already slumbering pace of action.

There is no sense of wonder here, which the original book inspired. The worst aspect for me was that the story dripped with Christianity. God is constantly mentioned, visits to and video conferences with the Pope, prayers and baptisms. I had to skip some pages as they were sickening and actually found myself at a number of points saying out loud "oh for f&*% sake".

In conclusion, I wish I had heeded a friend's warning that Rama II wasn't a patch on the original. I think he was very kind in his assessment. One of the very worst books I have ever read, and if it wasn't for the hope it would expand on the original I simply wouldn't have bothered reading to the end. Unfortunately I purchased 'Garden of Rama' at the same time, and after checking I see it was also co-authored by Gentry Lee. I think I'll chuck it on the fire in case I'm ever tempted to read it.
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on 26 July 2008
I read this book with high hopes based on the not inprobable notion that any follow up to the orignal Rama book which included Clarke as co-author was sure to be good. But sadly it's not. It comes across as not his work but some amateurish rehash of the first with nothing new revealed, a huge amount of padding in the form of character back-stories which are cliched and dull, no suspense and nothing new revealed. I can but assume, and hope, that Clarke merely rubberstamped this lame effort and put little into it. It is dull and utterly without merit. I never thought i could say that about a book with Arhur C Clarke on the front.
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on 2 February 2008
Rendezvous With Rama is by far one of Arthur C. Clarke's most intesting novels. It's concepts: The broomstick,Simps, Moon cycle, Space drive, biots To name but a few, are well though out/reseached. These complimented by a well paced plot and worthwile charicters who are not over developed for the sake of filling pages. The attention to detail was exelent, with great care taken to realy thinkout the physics involved. the ending is superb and leaves you desperate for more.

It is therefore unfortunate that Rama II is a soap opera about a group of supremly boring charicters whos tedious backstories fill most of the book. The concepts from the first book are rehased (badly) and new ones are feeble at best (the miniture robots are paticualy bad).

To conclude the Ramans may have done everything in 3's But the novelists should have stuck to one!
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on 15 August 2011
After the masterpiece which is the original Rama, this book absolutely fails to impress. It is clear throughout that ACC did not write this book. He wrote the storyboard then perhaps did a proof-read before publication, but I doubt he had much more involvement than that, despite what is claimed in the prologue.

The characters are uninspiring, and despite the massive amounts of time spent developing them, desperately clichéd. The scene opening chapter 31 where we find out that FS does all this out of some deep-rooted feminist anger, then she uses sex to influence a man who is cheating on his wife is disgustingly uninspired Mills & Boon type material. The sci-fi aspect is awful - there are just huge tranches where I couldn't help wondering if I was really meant to swallow the ease with which an important theme was dismissed or played down. Should we really believe that on a mission like this, the cosmonauts are not vetted much more closely than they are? Should we really believe there would be room for 2 journalists (untrained in any useful skills) on a crew of only 12 for such a mission? Should we really believe that the ship is effectively autonomous from any type of mission control?

To be honest I only got as far as chapter 31 (half way to the full count of 62) before finally throwing it down in a fit of annoyance piqued by the scene mentioned above. It is very rare for me not to finish a book once I've started with it. So I read the plot summary on Wiki instead, at least that bit is probably fairly true to how ACC saw the story developing, with much less of the dross.

Save your time and money, this is rotten.
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on 9 October 2013
Having recently read to the end of the Rama series I can safely say this book was by far the weakest entry. The rest of the reviews spell it out; Gentry Lee seems to have forgotten this is a scifi series and ended up writing hundreds of pages of tedious soap-opera level 'characterisation drama'. Every time there's a hint the main story advancing or, heaven help us, seeing some action, the narrative veers off into endless dream sequences, pointless sub plots, character romances etc.

It would be more bearable if there was some sort of payoff but it's not much of a spoiler to say there isn't. There is more exploration of Rama itself but, in retrospect, they may as well have not bothered. No questions answered, no motivations revealed, no hints as to why this was dragged out so long.

If you are planning on reading the rest of the series you would still do well to read this, but feel free to skip over basically the entire first third of the book, and also skim over anything that goes into dream territory (did I mention it keeps doing that?). When you cut right down to the main story it satisfies *just* enough to be worth reading, although mostly in the context of hoping the next entry will be better by the time it ends.
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on 14 May 2014
A potentially good read spoiled by the flashbacks and nonsensical interpersonal relationships. Takes the the classic original and jumps on it with big boots. Luckily flashes of the original still shine through enough to make it worth persevering to the end.
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