Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke

It’s 2130 and Rama, a cylindrical space vessel 50km long by 20km wide has arrived in our solar system. Humanity do not know what it is or where it has come from, only that it is artificial and is passing through our solar system before heading out into deep space again. The only human spaceship that can reach it in time is the Endeavor with its commanding officer Bill Norton.

rendezvous-with-ramaWhen the explorers enter Rama, all is dead – there appears to be no activity anywhere. The landscape is strange, although with no geographical features except the frozen sea that separates the north end of Rama from the southern end and city-like structures are seen and named (Paris, New York). As the exploring continues many things are discovered, although none giving any clue at all to what Rama is and why it is here. Their is breathable air at ground level, although the temperatures are well below freezing.

With the sun getting closer, the interior warms and the sea melts. Once this chain of events has happened, Rama comes to life. Robots (biots) are seen carrying out tasks and walking and swimming in Rama. Exploring continues in each of the cities and strange activity starts around what can only be described as the spikes protruding from the southern end of Rama.

My expectations for this book were mixed. I’ve heard so much about it, yet so little, I really didn’t know what to expect other than a huge alien spacecraft turning up in our solar system. What I found was a really nice intriguing read that makes you question everything that is discovered inside Rama. The detailed descriptions given really are wonderful and none of this is unbelievable in any way. The sense of wonder you get when the lights come on and the interior is finally lit up for the explorers to see is great and you can really imagine standing in Rama and taking it in for yourself.

If I had any gripes about this book it would be the characters. Although they’re okay as far as characters go, this book really isn’t about them and they just help move the plot along enough to get to some more welcome descriptions of Rama and the wonders it contains. The only other thing this book fails to give is any answers, although I can’t stress enough how little that matters. It’s so nice to read a book that isn’t worried about the destination, just that it makes the journey one that you would want to take again and again.

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