Recently, a memory was sparked off in my head of a vast abyss, and floating in the pitchest black possible, alone, with who knows what waiting to be discovered in its dark depths.
Thankfully – or sadly – all this was experienced between the covers of a book, the one I’m referring to is the slim volume with plenty of imagination, Arthur C. Clarke’s, wonderfully realised Rendezvous with Rama.
Rereading that particular chapter in the cold light of day didn’t have anywhere near the same impact as being cuddled up in bed, touch lamp on low, with the details of my peripheral vision suitably obscured, and reading to the soundtrack of a near all consuming silence.
The prose does retain some of its initial impact, however, especially when astronaut Commander Norton likens himself to Howard Carter about to enter tutankhamun’s undisturbed tomb, a striking visual, and such a human thing to grab onto in an outer space exploratory experience. Conveying both our smallness in the universe and our insatiable appetite to explore and see all there is.
The reader gets to experience that feeling of floating in nothingness, tens of kilometres of emptiness between you and anything else, the vulnerable feeling of being suspended in the vast unknown with only the imagination for company, before… well that would be spoiling a great story.
There is little else like that feeling of being so taken with a book that we find ourselves immersed in such positions that take us out of the real world. Further on in the book, I had some trouble visualising the vastness of a particular image. This being a book of discovery, I won’t ruin anything for those intrepid voyagers who wonder at what is out there in the universe.
The four books of the Rama series (the three sequels co-written by Gentry Lee), as well as the four Space Odyssey books, beginning, of course, with the epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, which made a stunning film as well, are compelling science fiction reads. Anybody looking for a great reads in the genre will enjoy these works of his, especially.
8 Replies to “Rendezvous with Literature”
Dear Ste J, Just to play with your thoughts a little, space is different from void, after all. Space contains things, void does not. And an abyss is a void, of sorts. Remember what Nietzsche said: “Be careful how long you look into the abyss, or you may find it looking back into you,” or words to that effect. Chilling thought!
Perhaps, after so long they all mingle into one if the person is experiencing the glimpsing of one or the other (or the other one). I love a good Nietzsche quote, need to add him back to my reading list, as its been too long! I replied to your email off of my new email address so it may be biouncing around your junk mail if you haven’t already seen it.
Interesting, although that’s not that kind of book we use to read. But it always important to read something new.
Thanks for sharing
The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Agreed, recently I picked up Systematic and Philosophical Theology, purely for something different to add to my thoughts. Expansion of the mind in all forms is always a good thing.
I’ve never read sci-fi, but perhaps this would be a good one to start with. My husband, though, is a huge sci-fi fan, and has piles of them lying around. Our son prefers space operas. I’m wondering if I will find this book floating around in our bookshelves somewhere. Will have to check.
I hope you do, it’s short, and the characters are a little bit two dimensional but the imagination is, excuse the pun, stellar. Solaris is another book that is really good as well, if you fancy dipping into a bit more Sci-Fi.
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Excellent review! I asked my husband if he had read ‘Rendezvous With Rama’ and of course he has, being a sci-fi enthusiast. He read your review and agrees with all you say about the book. When we first met he lent me ‘Childhood’s End’ by Arthur C Clarke which is another seminal book (my husband’s words).
I enjoyed Childhood’s End too. Proper Sci-Fi is something that I tend to watch more than read, which is something I should rectify at some point, although I do indulge in the odd lighter Doctor Who book.
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