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4.5 out of 5 stars
Rendezvous With Rama
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on 7 March 2017
I first came across this book via BBC Radio Four's programme 'Story Time' in November 1976 (or, as my wife says A Long Time Ago). It impressed the hell out of the ten year old me and, having ordered it from the local library, was impressed all over again. My dad was already a big sci-fi fan and, as a result of my evident enjoyment, began to feed me his Asimov and Clarke collection volume by volume.
Rama remains as fresh and enjoyable a book at nearly fifty-one as it was forty years ago. What I appreciate most now is the spare, uncluttered style of the author. Clarke is not big on wordy prose and his emphasis on concepts and story is often at the expense of detailed characterisation. In some ways this makes the book dated. If you are expecting detailed interpersonal subplots then you are likely to be disappointed.
Rama is on a hyperbolic path through the solar system, so Commander Norton and the crew of the Endeavour have a limited amount of time to explore the vast interior of the craft. What I liked about this was that there are no sudden shock revelations as to what Rama 'really' is. The explorers struggle to make sense of an inexplicable alien environment and what they do discover comes via good old fashioned scientific investigation and reasoned deduction.
This is classic 'hard' science fiction, emotionally understated by todays standards perhaps, but no less powerful for that.
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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2016
Until two months ago, I had read only one Arthur C Clarke novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, as a school boy some 35 years ago. I have now read The City and Stars, which was excellent; and now this novel, which won all sorts of awards back in the 1970s, which was almost as good. A mysterious object enters the solar system like a comet on a long approach, but it turns out to be artificial. A mission lands on it and explores the mysteries of this giant hollow cylinder. Clarke's imagination and extrapolation of scientific principles are breathtaking and this is a great read. I might say I was slightly frustrated by the lack of explanations at the end, but in an SF novel this powerful, that doesn't really matter. I am aware that there are several sequels to this, but that they are generally poorly regarded.
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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.

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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on 6 March 2013
"Rendezvous With Rama" is a rare book indeed.

There is no villain (well, not exactly), and a lot of the book is spent with not much happening.

But there is buckets of mystery and intrigue. To summarise the plot, and alien object (christened "Rama") enters the solar system and Mankind dispatches the spaceship Endeavour to investigate. Finding the craft apparently empty, Endeavour lands and explores.

Whilst this is ostensibly a science fiction story, it moves beyond the conventional tale because of all the detail. Clarke has gone to great length to paint his universe - explaining the trigger events, colonies, current philosophies (legalised bigamy was great) - but does so without burgeoning the book with unnecessary appendix or footnotes.

If you want to criticise the story, there is no resolution. There is no answer to "Rama", but that in itself does set up for the rest of the series ("Rama 2", "Gardens...", and "Revealed..."). However, I don't think the mystery needs to be resolved. Why? Because this is not a story about an alien spaceship - it is a story about Man's reaction to an alien spaceship, and that subtle difference is where this tale succeeds.

Well recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 June 2012
First published in 1972 this is one of the major SF classics - and it aged well, even if the description of human civilization in the Year of Grace 2130 is... well, quite weird.

In 2130 the "Spaceguard" early warning system, designed to protect Earth and other colonized planets in Solar System from wandering asteroids, detects an object of quite respectable size (about 55 kilometres long and 20 kilometres large), coming from interstellar space. This newcomer is named Rama and observed by astronomers with considerable interest, as it is the first asteroid from outer space ever to be identified in Solar System. But as Rama comes closer to the heart of the Solar system, scientists start to discover discrepancies in its movement and aspect. And finally there is no more doubt: Rama is not an asteroid but a giant artefact, made by intelligent creatures. Is it a giant scientific probe? Is it an interstellar missile send to destroy human race? Is it a starship? Or maybe only the dead wreck of a starship? Is there something inside Rama? Is there SOMEBODY inside Rama?

Because of Rama's peculiar orbit and late discovery of its artificial character, only one human ship can catch up with it and explore, before this giant "artefact" leaves our Solar System forever. Spaceship "Endeavour", on a routine "solar meteorology" survey mission, will manage to land on Rama... All the rest is for you to discover.

There are two reasons for which this book MUST be rated five stars. First, there is the great quality of writing. The suspense is permanent and almost insufferable - I didn't sleep most of the night to finish this book, because I simply COULDN'T wait to discover what will happen on the next page, and then on the next one, etc. etc. The second reason is the scientific quality of this book. Arthur C. Clarke did his best to stick to the "hard science" and it gave this book a very unique flavour, rarely seen in recent SF (by recent I mean post 1990). Author also managed to convey the scientific points in a very accessible way. I humbly admit that I am not very good at mathematics, physics and astronomy, but even me I managed to understand most of the scientific aspects of "Mission Rama" (or at least I believe I did). To say things shortly - "Rendez vous with Rama" is a great story, told in a great way!

Now, this book also has some weaker points, the same which (in my personal opinion), always hurt a little Arthur C. Clarke books. His visions of possible future societies were always somehow blurred by a mixture of three factors: his misanthropy, his detestation of religions (all of them) and his troubled sexual life, of which the homosexuality was possibly the LESS unorthodox aspect.

In this book Clarke's misanthropy runs rampant when he describes, with an evident pleasure, the forced reduction of human population of Earth to one billion - and extremely draconian laws preventing it to ever go over this limit... The very idea that any centralized, planet wide bureacracy could so completely control human's reproductive rights only 120 years from now is a really depressing thought... Clarke's deep dislike of religions is well illustrated by the joke placed in this book about the last Christians surviving still amongst more "enlightened" people - but in this reality those "Christians" actually believe that Jesus was an alien and they expect Him returning in a spaceship...

Another weird Clarke's prejudice was his pathological, visceral contempt towards farming and farmers. In his reflexion on "Raman" civilization he makes one of the explorers say "there is no way that a civilization so advanced could still tolerate the existence of an activity so low as farming". That is in my opinion one of the most irrationally stupid statements in all the "hard" SF... (but, to be fair, being myself a descendant of peasants, I am probably particularly touchy on this point...).

But it is the future societies attitude towards sexuality that is possibly the most troubling element of this book. Clarke clearly hoped that all sexual rules of our current Western societies would disappear in XXII century, to leave place to "anything goes" - an almost total absence of any rules and traditions. In this book both polygamy and polyandry are a perfectly normal thing and are legally recognized - and we are expected to believe that two or more wives of the same man are good friends... Marriages are also open - nobody even expects men and women to remain faithful to their partners. Sex is considered to be such a completely casual thing, that a polygamous married man can still bed openly a third woman without hesitation and everybody thinks it is just fine. Which is more, for Clarke there was clearly nothing wrong when in a hierarchical structure the commander of a ship called one of his female subordinates to lay with him. Homosexual relations and marriages are in this society accepted by everybody without exception - and even more, homosexual relations between crew members of a spaceship are ENCOURAGED, especially if they work together in the same field! Even more curious was his invention of bisexual-triangular marriage, in which two men first marry before taking together a common wife (or the contrary, two lesbians marry first and then add a man)...

Well, 120 years may be a lot of time, but I really do not see general acceptance and legal consecration of such practices coming easily... And religions are also not going anywhere - if anything they now play an even stronger role in world affairs that 40 years ago.

But other than those somehow extravagant elements, reflecting author's personal obsessions, this is an absolutely splendid book! I had great time reading it! Enjoy!
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on 25 May 2011
I had a real yearning for a good, old fashioned sci-fi story and recalled hearing about this book a while ago so thought I'd give it a whirl. Rendezvous with Rama is a very interesting story of a group of astronauts who are sent to dock with an enormous cylinder that has appeared in the sky and which also appears to be on a direct collision course with the sun, giving them a short period of time to explore this strange object. Upon arrival they finally enter the cylinder, christened Rama and discover what lies inside. It can be quite difficult to imagine certain aspects of this - I suggest searching online for images/videos of Rama to see some artist's conception pieces which really help you get a picture of what Clarke is trying to describe.
The idea of such a world is quite fascinating and Clarke also goes into great detail concerning the laws of gravity and the struggles that the astronauts have to overcome throughout their exploration. Clarke's use of the laws of physics is one of the reasons I chose to read this book as I wanted the so called hard sci-fi and Rendezvous with Rama really delivers in this respect.
One of the unfortunate aspects of this book is the poorly defined characters, at first I thought it may not matter as the idea of the contained world would be enough to keep me hooked, however as the book goes on I realised that I would have liked to have seen Rama from varying characters perspectives in order to really 'get the feel' of the place. Overall I enjoyed the book, purely because I found the idea so enthralling, it could have been better character wise but I am pleased that I read it and am already on the hunt for another Sci-fi tale!
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on 5 January 2011
Unfortunately, one of the Amazon reviewers somewhat spoilt Rendezvous with Rama for me by revealing the ending in his / her review, but I still enjoyed it hugely. This is because it starts from a premise with universal appeal: an alien spaceship suddenly appears in the Solar System, and takes a realistic and credible approach to it.

Clarke, before being a science fiction author, served in the Royal Air Force as a radar technician (1941-1946). He also devised a satellite communication system that was a precursor to what is in use today. Perhaps because he was a scientist by background, Clarke paid more attention to verisimilitude than other authors of the genre. Rendezvous with Rama, first of all, takes place in a realistically distant future, the twenty-second century; it does not assume man was already on Mars and reaching for the outer Galaxies twenty years after the first Moon landing, as do some SF books written around the time. The novel focuses in what is inside the alien spaceship (or probe, or ark: its nature is not given away, but is the book's very point), and it gives a believable story of its exploration and the surrounding politics. This is not a tale of swashbuckling spacemen and alien bugs, or some supernatural fantasy: it is a logical and at the same time, or even because it is logical, exciting story of discovery. The human mission to Rama explores the alien craft step by step, and the reader with it. It is a fascinating story and a tale full of dangers even though it fails to veer into space opera. Rama itself is full of surprises, though they are surprises to which we are inclined to nod in understanding. But I don't want to spoil it for you...
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on 4 December 2011
Though I have the Rama series in 4 paperback books I also have the Kindle edition of the Rama Omnibus (Rama: The Omnibus), and it is from this I am making this review of the first book of the series.

This is an absolutely awesome story from the Master of the Sci-Fi genre. The storyline had me engrossed from the first page up to the last. There are so many unanswered questions with regards to Rama, its purpose and the wonders held within. I know these are answered in the subsequent books and I can't wait to get started on Rama II. I'm vary interested in finding out and also am staggered at how ACC thinks these things up.

True,real, engrossing Sci-Fi read.

For those of you considering getting the Kindle edition of the 4-part omnibus. It converts vary well to kindle. No proplems whatsoever.
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on 18 July 2013
Arthur C Clarke describes our encounter with a huge cylinder built by alien hands that enters our solar system. It's our first encounter with aliens although we have populated the other planets and moons (except Venus?). A crew of astronauts board the craft and explore the interior but have great difficulty discerning the function of what they find. There doesn't seem to be life aboard, or is there? Clarke's great skill is in imagining a truly alien vista and doing it so credibly. I read the book in a couple of days such is the compelling nature of the saga as each revelation occurs. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has the slightest interest in science fiction.
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on 26 April 2013
This was my first ACC novel, and I really enjoyed it. I've read plenty of classic SF writers and wondered whether the language would be a little stilted, or the ideas outdated. They aren't.

ACC writes in a decent colloquial voice that doesn't get in the way of the storytelling. His light touches of scientific explanation don't intrude a jot.

This is a really enjoyable novel, written for pace, and is full of mystery. The intriguing ending doesn't disappoint.

Recommended for classic SF fans.

8 / 10

David Brookes
Author of 'Half Discovered Wings'
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