by Arthur C Clarke
Arthur C Clarks is one of the most prolific and well respected Science Fiction writer of his generation. And one of the great things about Clarke is that his works stand up even now. First published in 1974, Rendezvous With Rama has become a classic and with good reason.
I first read this book when I was in school in the mid-1970s. It was the first full-length Science Fiction novel I had read and I was awed by the grandeur of the story and the science it portrayed. I have read the book several times since and still find the story, characters and the strange alien world of Rama as captivating as the first time.
Rama is the name given to the enigmatic object scientists discover passing through the solar system. Its trajectory takes it past Venus and Mercury towards the Sun. There is only one ship capable of rendezvousing with the craft, Endeavour. Commander Norton and his crew find themselves the centre of political and media attention as they begin their adventure aboard the alien craft.
What they discover raises more questions than answers, as you might expect. How could we possibly understand the technology of a race capable of building a craft capable of spanning the vastness of interstellar space?
The narrative switches between the science of the expedition on Rama and the political intrigue and plotting back on Earth.
As you would expect from Arthur C Clarke, the science is real and believable, combined with great storytelling. Re-reading the book has reminded me just how good a writer Clarke is.
Originally a stand-alone story Clarke later went on to write a further 3 Rama novels. He had not intended to, but pressure from fans and his publishers soon won out.
Rendezvous With Rama is a SciFi classic for good reason. It remains one of my favourite books and one I am sure I will read again.