Patrick's Reviews > Rendezvous with Rama

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
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it was amazing

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 more 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 more.

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...
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 6, 2016 – Shelved
January 6, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)

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Patrick Wow. I didn't know that. I'd love to see it as a movie with Jackson involved....

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Note that the sequels were written as part of Clarke's collaboration with Gentry Lee. For better or worse (probably both in different ways), the tone of the collaborative novels is notably different than Clarke's solo work.

Patrick Huh. Didn't know that. Thanks for the heads-up.

message 4: by Mikael (new)

Mikael Sequels are not at all as good as the first, which is brilliant, imho.

Anita Well, I did love the sequels of Rama as every book of A.C.Clarke, His ideas are wonderful but maybe when he was written by himself was a little bit to technical, still I love and enjoy every book of Clarke as much as yours

Joseph The sequels have the problem of changing the backstory in stupid ways and making bad choices for who is being sent to Rama.

Babbs This is one of my favorite books! As others have warned, the next book is very different and has a completely different style and tone.

David Cordero Great book! I would highly recommend reading Childhoods End,different theme but definitely one of his best books and a lot better than the Rama sequels.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Though if we're recommending, Fountains of Paradise focuses on science in much the way Rama does.

message 10: by Margaret (new)

Margaret I find Clarke a bit dry and that was true for this book as well. That was true even reading it several decades ago. Glad it interested you.

message 11: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen FWIW, I enjoyed this and the second book (to a lesser extent) but couldn't make it through the third (there are actually four books in the series). I'm thinking it's Gentry Lee's influence in the later books that turned me off. YMMV of course.

Jamie Just to correct you Patrick, there are three more books after Rendez-Vous, not two. Great series!!

Jamie And I almost forgot, but there is a Part 5 even! Written solely by Gentry Lee titled 'Bright Messengers'.

Anubhav Mishra The people have mentioned the best books already.. childhood's end and fountains of paradise along with Rendezvous are the top three books from Clarke for me... But then I got hooked on to Isaac Asimov and man he was brilliant !! Waiting to see your take on other books...

message 15: by Nate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nate Patrick wrote: "Wow. I didn't know that. I'd love to see it as a movie with Jackson involved...."

Having just finished this book, today, and now learning about this being one of Samuel L. Jackson's pet projects, I'm curious what character he would play. Also, very curious how this has not been made into a movie by now with all of the fantastic imagery. I did find some of the scenes difficult to mentally picture from the description that Clarke gave but I'd love to see some concept art out there.

message 16: by Andrew (last edited Jan 24, 2016 11:40AM) (new) - added it

Andrew Great review, Patrick! I can't believe I never read this, but I hope to do it asap.
I like Clarke style, even though I know him mainly for 2001 Odyssey.

message 17: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Patrick wrote: "Wow. I didn't know that. I'd love to see it as a movie with Jackson involved...."

So I made a bit of a boo-boo. I was reading an article about Pulp Fiction as I was writing the comment. I meant to say it was Morgan Freeman's pet project (which may be even more incredible).

Here is the source:

message 18: by Yawar (new) - added it

Yawar For more 'classic' sci-fi, check out Alastair Reynolds' House of Suns. There's a passage there that hit me so hard I memorised it. But yeah, anyway, HoS has all the flying ships and sciencey bits that one could crave.

Justin  hight Patrick wrote: "Wow. I didn't know that. I'd love to see it as a movie with Jackson involved...."
pat please look up the book dragons egg by robert l forward.if you like this ,you may realy enjoy it.i think DE is even more amazing and differnt.never have found a book like it.its a jem

message 20: by Sascha (new)

Sascha Rambeaud @Patrick: In the light of your review of Rama II you should really consider revising this review. At the very least the final paragraph about your trust in Clarke ;).

Patrick Sascha wrote: "@Patrick: In the light of your review of Rama II you should really consider revising this review. At the very least the final paragraph about your trust in Clarke ;)."

Good idea...

Justin  hight Or you could forget about the shity book that made you mad enough to give it two stars ...and just remember the one that made you happy enough to give it 5 stars.

message 23: by Guillermo (new)

Guillermo To be frank, it is a bit hard, when you are reading a series, to simply 'forget' about subsequent books if they prove to be shitty and a disappointment. They are series for a reason, their characters and stories and whatever else are not just neatly contained in one book. So when a book disappoints, it necessarily destroys a bit of what made the previous one so great

Suzette I love these books.

message 25: by Dan (new)

Dan Ketch I loved the first 'Rama'. I remember reading it in the backyard one summer a few years ago and thinking it was perfect. I didn't need all the answers and to complain that the author didn't hold up his end by having all the answers is--in my opinion--ludicrous. I think many stories are enhanced by mystery, not hindered. Consider "Alien" and it's mysteries about the ship, the petrified pilot and the cargo. Can
anybody tell me that the pretty but piece of crap "Prometheus" made that story richer? No. It weakens it considerably. And as for authors keeping their implied "promises", well-- I'd say that the deeply flawed 'Wise Man's Fear' is a better example of the sequel ruining the first book. "The Name Of The Wind" was a revelation and a wonder, WMF is a freaking waste of time and sort of an embarrassment. So I wouldn't go chiding Arthur C. Clark much, Pat, you're not quite in that league. Finish a few more books in a fairly timely fashion and spare us the "Aren't I deep?" nausea of "The Slow Regard Of Silent Farts" or whatever the hell that precious little cupcake was called. 'Rama" will endure a lot longer, I'd wager. We'll see.

C. Scott Kippen Hmm, interesting. I wouldn't ever say another book would diminish another. The sequels are not good, but Rendezvous will always be a classic.

James Yeah, the sequels were painful. But the thing is that another author wrote those, while Clarke mostly just did editing and made suggestions.

Paulo Fonte i have the whole series (4 books). Reread it several times. It is the top of SF!
@Patrick Rothfuss yes the 2nd is irritating, but read on. You'll be rewarded.

message 29: by C. (new)

C. Gold I've read most of Clarke's stories and short stories and they usually leave you pondering humanity's future. To me Rama feels more realistic because it doesn't wrap everything up in a nice tidy package. I think that was intentional to reflect our current uncertainties about what is out there in the universe. To each his or her own though ;)

Cecile I read this delightful piece of sci-fi many years ago and just re-read it for my book club. We loved the science, the adventure, the team work. It was almost quaint. I tried to read Rama II but it was a piece of do-do. Slow, too much back story, mean-spirited, a real disappointment that I had to put down. Look at reviews of the subsequent volumes, I decided to just stay with the wonder and awe of the first one.

Poornima While a 'valid' sequel would have satisfied your curiosity and could have let you in on Clarke's imagination, it wouldn't have done much for your imagination. How can you ask those deep questions if everything was already answered for you? :-)

I think it is important to see the first book as more than mere science fiction. For instance where he says, 'survival is not everything'. Is it not really? I find it hard to believe that many years into the future, on a landmark mission, where the existence of humanity can go from being granted to uncertain, that someone thinks that. May be in a futuristic world where humans have achieved quite a bit in terms of space exploration. Maybe then knowledge would be basic instinct, not survival.

I read the first book without the knowledge of the sequels. (To me, it is actually disappointing that there are sequels.) It was the perfect short read with a humbling lesson and a lot to think about in terms of science, space and philosophy. Sequels or not, it is by itself a good book.

message 32: by C. (new)

C. Gold I agree Rama stands perfectly by itself. The Raman's always do things in three.... leaves it to the reader to decide whether that was a possibly future threat or something more hopeful.

Gentry Lee's writing style and the change in format from exploration to whatever book 2 was trying to do with stupid people chosen to go on a mission in order to introduce conflict amongst the humans, ruined the whole premise of people coming together to explore a potential threat that book 1 had going on. That and going on and on about stupid robot toys that had nothing to do with the plot killed it for me. I disavow all knowledge of the sequels ;)

message 33: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke Johnson Good review. Fortunately I operate on the premise that all sequels suck and never bothered with them for Rama. So although I have some open questions...the mystery and beauty of Rama's secrets remain something Id rather dream about than have answered in a disappointing way.

message 34: by J-P (new) - rated it 5 stars

J-P Maluenda Im happy to see others agreeing on how poor the sequel was, but lest not forget that this first book is a very safe read for a real scifi techie.

message 35: by C. (new)

C. Gold Did anyone else read about that cigar-shaped asteroid that flew by and think of this book?

I enjoyed this book because it had a positive message about people working together and being respectful and intelligent about the mission. It's so different from most books where someone is an idiot, the alien defends itself, and a bloodbath ensues.

message 36: by J-P (new) - rated it 5 stars

J-P Maluenda C.Gold
Indeed have thought about it.
These thoughts made me write my own review of this book and i could not resist adding this as my final paragraph.
"I would even go as far to say this book was a story from this future.
Would we have stayed the course laid by in the Kennedy-era, we would probably been active in space. Mars would have been an human colony already and within reach for us.
In year 2018 an object later called Oumuamua entered and left our solarsystem and we missed it completely. As there doesnt even exist images of the object, that at one time was closer to us then half the distance to mars, it could very well have been Rama itself."

message 37: by Eric (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric Starr Agree about the first RAMA book. The sequels were so bad, that I highly recommend NOT reading them.

message 38: by Bill (new) - added it

Bill Lucas Good review

Javier  Belmonte Let's just pretend that there are no sequels.

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