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Rendezvous With Rama (2015)

Rendezvous with Rama (2015)
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4.03 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
1857231589 (ISBN13: 9781857231588)
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Rendezvous With Rama (2015)
Rendezvous With Rama (2015)

About book: Good hard science fiction for the physics and math junkiesIt is the year 2153. Humans now inhabit the moon, Mars, Mercury, and the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. Suddenly, from the depths of deep space, comes an artifact called "Rama". Commander Norton and his team of space men and women (and chimps) head out on the spaceship, Endeavor, to explore this world before it heads back out into space.I'm familiar with Arthur C. Clarke, not just from the movie, 2001: A Space Odessy, but also his book series of the same name (2001, 2010, 2065, and 3001). Clarke has made himself a formidable presence in the science fiction genre, and when a friend of mine recommended this series, I jumped on it.The characters are as you would expect from a hard science fiction novel/70's scifi novel. They are pretty much interchangeable and bland. However, I did find a few interesting exceptions.Commander Norton does have a polygamous relationship (which somewhat hints at some possible tension between his Earth and Mars families???), but men aren't the only ones in this society to be engaged in polyamory. Two of his crew (I think Mercer and Carter) share a wife. I bring this up because so much of science fiction (well, any fiction written by males) seems to focus on male fantasies: one guy having many wives. I thought the attempt at equality was admirable.Also, there is a female doctor aboard the spaceship, Endeavor, along with a female doctor in the CNC board meetings, both of whom are highly respected in their fields. Sure, the medical doctor does have a history with Commander Norton, but in no way is she only defined by her sexual relations to him (past or present). And for that, kudos to Clarke for making female characters beyond the boinkable babes (see Niven's Ringworld for how to do this badly).But this story is NOT about the characters; it is about Rama. And this is where it catapults itself head and shoulders above Ringworld, another novel about a mysterious object that some space farers are trying to explore. Commander Norton and his team do a lot of exploring of this world and TONS of science is tossed at the reader. We get the mechanics of descending onto a rapidly rotating cylinder, the gravity on such a surface, the awkwardness that humans have in dealing with strange surroundings, the examination of the surroundings (testing the water for contaminants), and MUCH MUCH MORE. This is truly a hard core science fiction novel; there are no fluffy "Faster than light" drives, no artificial gravity machines, nothing that isn't 100% explained by science. Even the alien species are described as very alien (no almost human races here!).I have very little in the way of complaints. The book is VERY science dense, so if astronomy, geology, physics, math, and/or any other science bugged you in high school or college, you will probably want to avoid. The characters are also very transparent, interchangeable, and only present to show off Rama. Also, I found how utopic the United Planets were (there is ONLY one threat, though it is admirable to see even that, to the mission) somewhat strange.When I first cracked open Ringworld, I was expecting this: an in-depth look at an alien world, with real world physics, and attention to detail. In fact, that book almost turned me off hard science fiction. Clarke has restored my faith in this subgenre. I'm definitely more interested in his works and in exploring more scifi (both hard and soft). Recommended to my fellow nerds and geeks.

Rendezvous with Rama is one of those strange cases (which seem to happen to me a lot), where I remember more about my life while I was reading a book than the about the book itself.I remember liking it, and I have vague recollections of the Raman robot beings and the weirdness of Rama's interior, but that's about all I can conjure from the book.But everything surrounding my reading of the book is vivid.I was on my way to Stratford, Ontario to see The Three Musketeers, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Ernest and Titus Andronicus at the Shakespeare festival, and I decided to take a detour to visit my cousin. When I got there, however, an emergency had taken him out of town, so I was given the keys by a neighbour and told to make myself at home for the weekend.I spent most of that weekend walking around town talking to the woman I loved on my cellphone (at very long distance), eating at the local pub, and hanging out in my cousin's coolly humid, Ontario basement, where I watched two movies that have stuck with me even though I've never seen them again: The Boondock Saints and The Passion of Ayn Rand.The former was a favourite of Criston's, and it was in its first shine of cult hit-dom when I rented it from the local video store. I watched it to feel closer to her, separated as we were to be for over a week. It was okay. Not my favourite, but it did star Young Indiana Jones (and since I have always been a huge fan of Indy, I was willing to cut it lots of slack). But it finished uneventfully and I went back to reading Rendezvous with Rama, surrounded by Elvis.My cousin is an Elvis nut; he actually believes the King is alive and in hiding, and his entire basement is a shrine, a sort of Canadian-basement Graceland. I can't remember the details of Clarke's book, but I can remember a series of Elvis plates that take the King from his youngest days on Ed Sullivan all the way to his fat bellied Live from Hawaii days, and a bookshelf full of Elvis' movie (which I am proud to report I did not watch while I was camped out in the basement). The other movie I watched, The Passion of Ayn Rand, wasn't an intentional rental; it happened to be on the CBC's Passionate Eye late one night, and again, I put it on because of Criston. She was a huge Ayn Rand fan, and she'd made me promise to read The Fountainhead on that very trip; it was waiting in my bag for me to finish Rendezvous with Rama. It was the next book on my list. So there I was amidst a confluence of events: missing Criston, creeping closer to reading her favourite book, and suddenly watching a documentary about her favouite author.The documentary fired me up, so I stayed awake long enough to finish Arthur C. Clarke and moved on to the Ayn Rand -- a book I remember far better than Rendezvous with Rama.So why am I telling you all this?I am telling you this because it illustrates something very dear to me about literature. Like smells, the books I've read conjure powerful memories. They are triggers for entire episodes of my life, or tiny vivid vignettes. They are cues of remembrance that bring back feelings and sights and even sounds.Sure, my memories of Rendezvous with Rama are vague, but not the memories that Rendezvous with Rama evokes. And that makes Rendezvous with Rama as important to my life as any book I've read and can quote scene for scene or word for word.And that puts Rendezvous with Rama firmly and permanently in my personal mythology
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Reviews
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Boy, this was a great book. If you think of all the sci-fi story templates and formulas, you could find this story done a hundred thousand ways. But not like Clarke does it.He breaks every mold, and this ends up being a very unpredictable - even to your disappointment - book. Let me explain. You find yourself as a reader wanting something to happen so badly, that you scarcely think that it's probably better that it didn't. Just like every romance movie where the guy gets the girl at the end, you find yourself wanting them to kiss. Or whatever. I don't, personally. That's why I write my books with horribly disappointing endings. But they're unpredictable. If nothing else, they are that. Well this one is too. And sure, you want the ending to be different, but would it really be a better book if you got what you want? Are you really happy at the end of those too-predictable, formulaic movies where you knew all along the bad guy would go to jail? Yeah, probably not.This is about a UFO coming into sight where it looks like it's going to swing wide around the sun. So man has a limited time to rendezvous with it and check it out if they want to. Which, of course, they do. So they check it out. Life comes to - well, comes to life aboard the ship, and the amazement begins. He really put me in that ship with his story. I was turning pages faster than I could soak it all up. This one gripped me from start to finish, and I think I read it in one sitting, if I recall correctly. Yes, I highly recommend this one.
Greg Strandberg
I really loved reading this book way back in middle school, oh...around 1994 or so. It was the first of the Rama Series, and the only written by Clarke alone. Many think Gentry Lee ruined this book for many readers when he teamed up with Clarke, but I disagree; I think he helped continue the story line created here.And it was a great story. People find some weird alien object floating in space. And then they decide to visit it.I loved how Clarke did a lot of history and back story for his world. You've got explanations on how the space program was shelved after a promising astronaut was killed on a low-budget mission. And also how that recaptured the imagination of the people.Clarke was definitely ahead of his time, although I don't know if I could read and write in Sri Lanka. I've read 5 of his books and this is one of the best!Update: Good to pick this up again after 15 years or so. It's better than I remember, and going to Google and searching "Rama Inside" really gives you awesome pictures of what you're reading about. I wish I had that back in 1996!There is some good hard sci-fi here. Hurricanes on a cylindrical spaceship as the frozen seas inside melt as the object gets closer to the sun. This is from a man that designed satellites in the 1950s.There are great depiction of solar system UN. There are 8 members, but most are just satellites. Great depictions of how people would live on Mercury, and how they can't even visit Earth because the gravity and uncontrolled environment would simply be too much.I highly recommend this and it makes me want to pick up Rama II right now. I'm moving this to 5-stars.
Stephen
5.0 stars. One of the best first contact novels ever. The ability of Clarke to bring a high level of detail regarding the mechanics of the expedition without having the story get bogged down is a rare thing. This novel succeeds brilliantly. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction NovelWinner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction NovelWinner: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction NovelWinner: (tie) John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction NovelWinner: British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel
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