Monday, 11 March 2013

Rendezvous With Rama [Rama #1] - Arthur C. Clarke

Rating - 4 out of 5 Cupcakes
Cover Rating - 2.5 out of 5 Cupcakes
The citizens of the solar system send a ship to investigate before the enigmatic craft, called Rama, disappears. The astronauts given the task of exploring the hollow cylindrical ship are able to decipher some, but definitely not all, of the extraterrestrial vehicle's puzzles. From the ubiquitous trilateral symmetry of its structures to its cylindrical sea and machine-island, Rama's secrets are strange evidence of an advanced civilization. But who, and where, are the Ramans, and what do they want with humans? Perhaps the answer lies with the busily working biots, or the sealed-off buildings, or the inaccessible "southern" half of the enormous cylinder. Rama's unsolved mysteries are tantalizing indeed.     
I was recommended this a friend so I delved into it without much of a first impression. Soon enough however it occurred to me that this was not like any science fiction book I have ever read. Most of the passages of this book are dedicated to describing the most amazing and indeed the first alien spaceship humanity had every encountered, Rama.

While reading this book I realise that there is a real reason why Clarke was considered one of the big three of science fiction writing. This book unlike its more modern counterparts is more concerned with world building rather than characterisation and heroism of its protagonists. The book dedicates chapter after chapter to exploring the mind-bending structure of Rama with brief interludes to explore the emotions of the exploring crew and the politics involved in dealing with a possible alien existence.
Clark did an amazing job in creating Rama. The world of Rama while amazingly detailed was hard to comprehend, the planes of which the unseen Raman’s built defied the basic rule that governed most humans today, Gravity. Clarke defies all expectation in creating a world that is as vivid as it is incomprehensible however the building of the world was eased by the sheer amount of real science supporting this book which makes everything all the more real.

There are no real heroes or enemies in this book or at least in the conventional way. The biomechanical creatures that appear in this book is essentially harmless and the Raman’s who build this amazing world are never seen and the only obviously danger other than falling is the nuclear missile launched by humanity itself which as it happened could be defeated by a simple wire cutter.

I didn’t think I would enjoy a book where nothing really happens but enjoy it I did. I give it 4 out of 5 cupcakes.

While on the subject of science fiction I would like to wish Happy Birthday to the late Douglas Adams, he was an amazing writer who was taken before his time.

This image makes me simultaneously happy and sad

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