Rendezvous with Rama

I listened to Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. ClarkeWhile on vacation over Christmas, B had played it in the car as he was driving.  He mostly drove overnight while I slept so i caught bits and pieces of the story.  I heard the introduction by Robert J. Sawyer (Fast Forward, the WWW series) and probably the first third of the story.  Then I was asleep for a while, caught maybe an hour in the middle of the second half then heard the last 15 minutes.

I was interested enough by what i heard to give the whole thing a listen.  about 150 years from now, about 200 years from when Clarke wrote it, there is a network of satellites and telescopes searching for asteroids that may strike Earth or one of its many colonies.  There are colonies on the Moon, Mars, several moons, and even Mercury!  One of these satellites sees an anomaly which scientists name Rama as they are working through the Hindu pantheon of gods.  When scientists arrange a flyby by a probe, they discover that Rama is actually a spaceship of some kind.  It is a long cylinder made of metal which is hollow so the humans decide they must get inside.  The only ship that can get to Rama to investigate is the Endeavour, captained by an Australian named Norton.  They proceed to enter Rama, explore and see some amazing sights.

I really liked this book.  The majority of the characters are competent professionals; there aren't any "bad guys" on the Endeavour.  Everyone is smart, curious and highly trained even if they are applying that training to an entirely new situation.  I guess because everyone seemed, not realistic exactly because you hardly know about their internal lives, so dedicated you rooted for them and wanted to be there with them.  The story is very detailed so you really can see the action.  


Clarke seems really ahead of his time.  Several of the crew are female, including the ship's doctor.  Two of the male officers are a couple and share a wife who I think lives on the Moon.  Captain Norton has two wives with families, one on Earth and one on Mars (how he affords it I don't know).  Rather than the various nations running things, there is a planetary committee.  Overall it is very progressive. 

The only thing that keeps this from being a 7 from me is that the book leaves so many questions unanswered.  You should read it!

Comments

  1. I LOVED this book! It's one of the few classic sci fi novels that I really like…and I sort of like the unanswered questions…it frustrated me too at first, but the mystery of it all is kind of what I love…it's like it keeps building up but there never is a huge reveal. the tension and the build up is the story. It's like you're their with the explorers.

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  2. You are right, I really should read it, especially as I bought a copy several years back with the express purpose of doing just that. I've read a few of Clarke's short stories that were really great, so I know I like his style. Glad to hear good things about this from you.

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  3. Chris- there are sequels but someone else wrote them with Clarke providing some general story and approved the works. They aren't as well reviewed. Maybe try some Asimov? The robot books are cool and are mysteries.

    Carl- You really would like it i think. It's short but packed.

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  4. Chris and Melanie, if you haven't read Asimov's novel, The Positronic Man, I highly recommend that one. It is a beautiful and entertaining story.

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