Rendezvous with Rama
by Arthur C. Clarke
Reviewed by Marian Powell
“The long-hoped for, long-feared encounter had come at last. Mankind was about to receive the first visit from the stars.”
Published in 1973, Rendevous with Rama is considered a classic. A mighty spaceship enters the solar system, ignoring all attempts to communicate. Astronauts are sent to land on it. They work out how to get inside and most of the novel is their adventures, for the inside of the deceptively quiet ship turns out to be a dangerous place. Besides struggling to stay alive, the real focus is on trying to figure out why the ship was built. What is its purpose?
It’s a good, solid read. I recommend it highly. You think you know where the story will go after that quote. All the clichés are that either earth will be invaded as in movies from War of the Worlds to Independence Day; or alternately, wise and benevolent aliens are coming to teach us the error of our ways. Clarke’s brilliance is to avoid all the clichés.
That turns Rendevous into the ultimate work of science fiction. Isn’t science fiction about struggling to understand and survive an alien universe, one that doesn’t hand out guidebooks? People have to figure everything out on their own. Clarke doesn’t give us any answers.
Besides recommending it, I also want to issue a warning. After a few years, Clarke teamed with another author to produce a series of sequels. They do not resemble the original. That’s the kindest thing I can say for I was quite disappointed. But that does not take anything away from the classic Rendevous with Rama. ~~ Marian Powell
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