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At First, Only A Few Things Are Known About The Celestial Object That Astronomers Dub Rama It Is Huge, Weighing 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 I originally read this in junior high, when I first eagerly devoured all the writings of the Big 3 This reread is part of a project to revisit the classics I read in my youth, now with my pesky adult brain in tow.Rendezvous with Rama is pretty much the prototype for what people complain about when they say they don t make em like they used to It is also, by consequence, exactly what others are criticizing when they say they shouldn t make em like that any It is essentially a hard sci fi narrative centered around scientific discovery and methodical problem solving by its hyper competent hero es It is an exciting story filled with all manner of wondrous events and inventions and landscapes to explore, and can easily be enjoyed at face value, hence the four stars It s a darn good read, no question.What I have recently noticed upon re evaluating our holy trinity of Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein, is that their sins were the collective sins of the Anglo American golden age of sci fi There is very little in the way of emotional engagement with the characters, and Clarke in particular seems to regard other humans and their behavior with clinical interest at most as if the inner life of his characters is only a necessary component of their existence insofar as it can explain their choices or their responses to stimuli The social sciences were also poorly represented by these authors and their colleagues being almost wholly obsessed with hard science, their future histories feel like they were engineered in a controlled experiment, rather than having developed from any of the cultural conflicts and movements that really shape history Science fiction will always date badly in some ways, because speculating about the future based on present day understandings is never going to be 100% accurate however, the future society posited in Rendezvous with Rama is impossibly na ve in its conception and comes across as surprisingly reactionary, especially since Clarke was usually lumped in with the political left in the SF community.I know, I know, That s just how things were done back then There were plenty of writers from the olden timey days who didn t, though There s a reason why John W Campbell hated PKD s writing, for example And also, there are plenty of authors who still do it that way have you read Neal Stephenson As a time capsule work, though, Rama is almost peerless in its execution, and definitely worth the read, even if our modernized adult brains have to let a few things slide to make it work. It s odd to think that this book was published 40 years ago I don t know why that strikes me as strange, but it does It s tempting for me to call this book Traditional Science Fiction Or Classic Science Fiction or something along those lines But what I really mean to say is that this is a story where the science is one of the central aspects of the story The basic premise of the story is In the future, humanity finds a alien spacecraft and investigates it A lot of the joy of exploration comes from the theory of how a spaceship might really work in terms of physics How could you generate gravity on a spaceship How would it travel What would the aliens be like What would the purpose of these various pieces of the ships be Such as, for example, a large body of water, or featureless buildings on an island It s an interesting story, but probably mostly interesting for people interested in the genuine science of interstellar interplanetary travel.For example, if you enjoyed The Martian, you have a good chance of liking this book But be warned, the pacing is much different than The Martian It s not First Person It s not conversational It s not painfully technical, but it was written in a different age.Of particular interest to me was the fact that many of the smaller plot arcs of the books were very short By which I mean to say that when a problem arises in the story, the resolution comes very soon afterwards That limits the tension of the story somewhat, as you don t have time to get too worried over anything before it s fixed Lastly, it s important to note that this book ends with many questions unanswered But the good news is that there are two books in the series that will explore those questions further, and I trust Clarke to pay me off with good answers by the end of the series Later edit I read the sequel, and I have to retract my previous statement The follow up book severely damaged my opinion of this book to the point where I don t know if I would reccomend it any.So if you were considering reading this book based on my review, you might want to read this first in order to get the whole story I ve been trying to read classic sci fi and my experience has been very hit and miss so far But this was a very interesting take on the whole first contact with aliens I do wish there was a bit but it seems like I always do Nevertheless the ending was pretty satisfying, would recommend Mysterious and engaging, classic science fiction.I first read this back in high school, we ll just say a LONG time ago Since then the concepts, ideas and themes surrounding this archetypal work of science fiction have been a huge influence on works in this genre Clarke first published this Hugo and Nebula award winner in 1972 The first works that I think of that was influenced by RWR is John Varley s excellent Titan series, first coming out in 1979 His influence on Ridley Scott s Alien, also released in 1979, is clear What Clarke did was to affirm that there are and remain mysteries that we will not get, that there are some aspects of scientific research and observation that will remain over our heads 2017 reread I m advancing my rating, giving this a 5 star I recall liking it as a younger man, but this is premier, elite SF Clarke deservedly won the SF triple crown for this work Hugo, Nebula and John W Campbell as well as a host of other awards including the Locus and British SF Association Award It s that good It should be on a short list of best SF ever.Clarke s Rama has all of what s best in a SF story future science, intrepid explorers, contact with aliens, space, rockets, and mystery That last element is what wins here, we know about the Ramans, but not all about them by a long shot, there is still much to know He has, and we have vicariously through his story, only just scratched the surface of knowledge and what is learned, decades worth of knowledge according to Commander Norman, only leads to questions.Excellent, Science Fiction of the highest order.