November 19, 2018

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

  OK, Arthur C. Clarke merits two “great” entries.  One of my favorite authors since I was a teenager, he has the uncommon knack of making real science come alive. The scenario presented by Clarke in Rendezvous is a highly pausible one; I’d place a private bet that it would be the most likely situation if First Contact with an extraterrestrial civilization was made face to face.
In the near future, a mysterious cylinder is detected entering the solar system by a automated space guard system looking for Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Incidently, NEOs are a real threat; systems are already in place searching for them.
A ship on a comet rendezvous mission is diverted to match orbits with the object which is on a hyperbolic path and hence will only make one pass through the solar system. At first, the enourmous cylinder apears to be totally dead, an artifact of an extinct race. Then as it approaches the sun, the mini worldlet comes alive. Like in Childhoods End and 2001, probably his most well known works, Clarke takes on a broad swath of human history with the implications of moral and religious issues resulting from first contact. Another interesting theme that weaves itself through all of Clarkes’ first contact tales is the dawning of a new level of human consciousness. The message always seems to be this; man isn’t the center of or the point of creation. When the aliens come, a dose of humility may be in order for mankind.
Other sequels for Rendezvous with Rama were written, but as with most, the original stands on its own as a classic.

Comments

  1. tinkoo says:

    I loved it too, though the 3 “sequels” by Gentry Lee leave a lot to be desired.

    Did you know Clarke’s “Jupiter Five” is almost a shorter version of this story?

  2. webmaster says:

    I did not… I had heard of “Jupiter Five” but have never read it… Clarke has expanded on his earlier short stories before, such as “The Sentinel” which eventually became “2001″. I’ve never been a huge fan of sequels; I like to see originals that stand on their own. That having been said, I recently finished all of the Dune sequels and prequels. Of course, the original is best!

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