Rendezvous with Rama (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke

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ImageRendezvous with Rama is a beautiful novel written by the great Arthur C. Clarke. An enormous bullet shaped object has entered the solar system and looks to be made by aliens. It is fifty kilometers long and ten wide and it is perfectly machined and manufactured so that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this celestial object is heading towards earth with a purpose. A team is quickly reassigned and before long they enter through a triple reinforced airlock into the cavernous interior of Rama.

The descriptions of the shifting changing nature of the inside of the giant ship are what make this such an interesting and thought provoking search into the meaning of the universe. A long asked question, “are we alone in the vastness of space”, has long been the vehicle of exploration into the human mind, via the medium of Science Fiction and Arthur C. Clarke is nothing short of a genius. The ships insides are vast and over the course of the novel the sterile environment changes into one of lush beauty including the mind bending and surreal thought of looking up and seeing land and water hovering kilometres over your head (less mind bending having seen movies like ‘Elysium’ and ‘Upside Down’ but still…).

The Cylindrical Sea, a massive body of water that encircles the entire inside of the ship in a huge circle, was my personal favorite. Clarke uses simple reversals of everyday physics to create a magical world that could actually exist, given the right circumstances, but one that we can hardly comprehend despite it’s conforming to the laws of physics. It is ideas like these that make Clarke a master of making hard work look simple.

The Cult of the Space Jesus (not the actual name) is a funny aside made even more hilarious by the fact that none of the things being said are much different that the ‘actual facts’ offered up by modern day religions and Clarke doesn’t ridicule them openly. Reading between the lines you can tell Clarke isn’t one for organised religion. He is a spiritual man asking spiritual questions but he is a scientist in equal measure.

All told this is another classic Sci-Fi novel and definitely one for the ages.

5 Stars

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