by Arthur C Clarke
Arthur C Clarks is one of the most prolific and well respected Science Fiction writers of his generation. 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 reread 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.
by Arthur C Clarke
The biggest mystery about this book is why I haven’t read it yet. First published in 1986, “Songs of Distant Earth” is a traditional Science Fiction book, in that it deals with concepts and technologies that are understandable and achievable.
With the Sun due to go Nova, mankind must find a new home if it is to survive. They do this by sending colony ships out into space, aimed at colonising likely looking planets in neighbouring systems. But with journey times running in the hundreds of years, each of these outposts will be very much on their own.
The last ship to leave Earth is the Magellan. Its crew leave behind a world on the verge of destruction. There is no way back. Five hundred years into their journey, and needing to make repairs to the ship, they make planetfall at Thalassa, one of the first planets to be colonised. AT first Thalassa seems like a paradise. Certainly the locals are friendly and welcome their fellow human beings with open arms and support. But things soon start to change. Relationships between locals and the Magellan crew put strains on the relationship between the two very different populations. And there is also the question of the native alien population. Are they seeing the first signs of intelligence?
Arthur C Clark had a reputation for sticking to foreseeable technologies. There are no warp drives or transporter beams here, just good old fashioned story telling based on science that can be explained and understood.
An excellent book worthy of any decent sci-fi enthusiasts book shelves. It is definitely one to hold on to and read again. A five-star read.
by Arthur C Clarke
The Hammer in the the title is an asteroid that is heading for a collision with planet Earth. Not a new idea, but when the subject is tackled by someone like Arthur C Clarke, you know you are going to get more than you bargained for, or at least, that’s what you would expect.
It was an interesting enough book, but hardly a SciFi classic. I do sometimes find that his books sacrifice plot for science, and whilst I admit that one of the reasons I like his books generally is the high factual content, in this case, what remains of the plot after getting his scientific thesis across, is rather limp.
If you have seen Armageddon, then you know the plot of this little tale. The characters have little or no depth and seem to be there just to provide conversations on which to hang the scientific facts.
If I had wanted to read a thesis on the probability and history of asteroid impacts on the Earth I’d have gone to the library or the internet.
It was OK but a little disappointing. Maybe there was a good reason I hadn’t read it before.