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Rendezvous with Rama

08 Jun

600full-rendezvous-with-rama-coverAt first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams… and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits — just behind a Raman airlock door.

There is something about the unknown that draws us, intoxicates us and keeps us tantalised, Rendezvous with Rama is just such a book.  Giving us a setting of astronomical proportions that sticks in the mind years after the tome has been returned to the shelves from whence it came.

There is a solid build up and background to the story,  exploring the state of the Earth in political and social terms, the exploration of what alien contact could mean for science and religion which teases the reader with possible answers to such a provocative riddle.  I rather felt it had a certain reminiscent feel to the exploration novels of old like Allan Quatermain, The lost World etc.

There is a tendency with sci-fi for the characters to sometimes be a little two-dimensional as is the case here.  Whilst this would usually bother me, in this instance it doesn’t, because the characters are really only tools to allow us to view the edifice of the ship that is Rama itself.

I can forgive the characters being two-dimensional because they are clearly secondary here,  the faint whiff of almost soap opera-ish leanings don’t diminish from the book, in fact the clichés work in its favour. Those plot points which seem a little silly in the face of the big object flying near Earth make a nice contrast and beg the question how much are life’s worries really worth in the face of such a behemoth of a discovery on humanity’s doorstep.

In fact the human intervention in itself is a key plot point but the individuals are essentially there as a vehicle for the reader to discover the visually huge and stunning ship.  Indeed the ship is the star…even though it is not a star but a ship and is the main character in itself.  An enigmatic wonder that throws up the old chestnuts of who is out there and how old are they, where do they come from and what is it that they want?

Although Clarke does like to get his real science into the book, rather than take a way from the story, it gives it an extra layer of realism and makes the plot feel that little bit more believable.  There is a sense of discovery and wonder to be had here and yes as usual I am being deliberately lacking in anything that may be seen as a spoiler.

It is a short book but packs in a lot of stuff and has three sequels which were co written with Gentry Lee which are a lot bigger and well worth a read as well, although lacking in the same impact.   Still this is a great read for all those who like to muse on our place in the universe and if we are alone and the start of series that really is an unforgettable journey.

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20 Comments

Posted by on 08/06/2014 in Sci-Fi

 

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20 responses to “Rendezvous with Rama

  1. Al

    08/06/2014 at 22:24

    Clarke always reminds me of Bear. There are three authors I think are very similar: Clarke, Bear – and you know who the other one is – Asimov.

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    • Ste J

      09/06/2014 at 15:57

      One heck of a triumvirate there…I need to read more Sci-Fi…I am getting there though.

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      • Al

        09/06/2014 at 16:21

        I am being stunned with a love book at the moment. I was not expecting a murder in it.

        I have read a few Bear and ended up buying them again.

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        • Ste J

          09/06/2014 at 16:27

          Haha, it does come out of left field, you have to forgive it though for its magnificence.

          I did the same whilst in the US, picking up a bunch of favourites and then leaving them there, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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  2. quirkybooks

    08/06/2014 at 22:26

    You said you gave no spoilers Ste – What about the Star being a ship? Isn’t that a big secret in the book?

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    • Ste J

      09/06/2014 at 15:58

      No, you are thinking of that bit in Star Wars! The blurb mentions it and if memory serves me correctly it is established early on.

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      • quirkybooks

        09/06/2014 at 23:47

        Hi Ste, apologies, I was talking about when you wrote this bit – “Indeed the ship is the star…even though it is not a star but a ship and is the main character in itself.” As I haven’t read the blurb, I thought this was a big secret giveaway, thanks for correcting me.

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  3. gargoylebruce

    09/06/2014 at 00:16

    On a completely unrelated note, this book might be up your alley:
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22157633-zandernatis?ac=1

    Conspiracy theories and alternate history and meta-realist allegory (whatever that is…). The author is looking for reviewers at the moment….

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    • Ste J

      09/06/2014 at 16:08

      Ah! Thanks for the heads up, it certainly sounds fascinating…I shall drop the author a line, I do have a hankering for meta-realist allegories at the moment…

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      • gargoylebruce

        10/06/2014 at 04:56

        I’m sure it’s just a phase (said his parents, looking worried)…

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  4. readinpleasure

    09/06/2014 at 17:57

    Hmm, interesting review, Ste J. Why the tittle Rama I ask? Symbolic?

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    • Ste J

      09/06/2014 at 18:08

      The ship was named Rama because all the Greek and Roman names had been used up by the time and a Hindu God was a good designation that wouldn’t offend sensibilities of the Earth cultures of the time…it’s fascinating stuff.

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  5. sakuraandme

    10/06/2014 at 09:01

    If only I could get back into reading! Haha I have turned my back on books and have to find a way to turn back! LMAO Not really into Sci-Fi, yet my brother just got me to watch Pacific Rim and I actually like it. 🙂 Hugs Paula xxx

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    • Ste J

      10/06/2014 at 17:58

      I have faith in you to get back into it…all it will take is one good book and you will be right back into it! I tend to avoid a lot of sci fi because I am picky but I think I should dabble more. I haven’t seen Pacific Rim, I prefer the cyclops and sabre tooth tiger fights in the old Sinbad films!

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  6. thejerseygal®™

    16/06/2014 at 14:59

    Interesting name for the ship- Rama. That’s the supreme being for the Hindus. Is there foreshadowing in the title with that name? Did I just ask for a spoiler? LOL
    Very good review. That you got me interested in this book speaks volumes because usually as sci-fi as I get is Star Wars. I think the title is a real attention-grabber, too.

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    • Ste J

      17/06/2014 at 15:01

      It’s not a spoiler, Rama was called that because the Roman/Greek pantheon had all been used so the scientists had started on the Hindu pantheon. This, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris are really good books…Star Wars is great but I like something a little existential sometimes as well just to keep the thought factory ticking over.

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      • thejerseygal®™

        17/06/2014 at 15:18

        Anything that makes me think is always a good read. I read 2001:A Space Odyssey. Solaris, I think George Clooney starred in the movie and ruined it all. Yet the book was rather mind-ending for me in a good way.

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  7. The Book Haven

    22/06/2014 at 15:25

    You have reviewed one of my favorite books of all time. I liked Rendezvous with Rama even more than any Asimov novel. The enigmatic environment here is simply jaw dropping. Childhood’s End and Rama I are perhaps the finest ACC books.

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    • Ste J

      22/06/2014 at 15:36

      I haven’t got to Childhood’s End yet, although it is sitting with a thousand other books on the shelf…I like sci fi that has the air of the profound so I will pick it up soon.

      Like

       

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