Rendezvous with Rama

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Aldarion
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Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Aldarion » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:22 pm UTC

Hi all!
I've finished reading "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke today, and I'm amazed!
It's one of the best SF books I've ever read.
What do you think about it?

And the most important question: do you know any books similar to "Rama"?
Because that's what I like reading: technical descriptions and little more.
I don't want to read about the development of human civilization, I don't care about ethical or sociological consequences of new technlogies, I couldn't care less about human-alien diplomacy or the love between two astronauts on a dangerous space mission.
No, I just want a nice, big, complicated machine and some people either trying to find out how it works, or explaining it to each other.
That's the SF I like.
Do you know any such books?
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CrackTheSky
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby CrackTheSky » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:07 pm UTC

Rama is one of my all-time favorite books. People say Clarke sucks at character development, especially in this book...but not if you look at Rama as a character ;) (though I agree, Clarke was never much for charatcer development). But yeah, that book is amazing, the detail is astounding and the visuals I get while reading it...:up:

I can't think of any other books to recommend based on what you enjoy...actually, you might like Alastair Reynold's trilogy which starts with a book called Revelation Space. That actually fits your description pretty well, but it's a time investment.

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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby william » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:40 pm UTC

Don't read the sequels. Clarke didn't write them and they aren't as good.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Robin S » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:33 pm UTC

Didn't Clarke cowrite them? I quite liked the second one, and never got round to reading the third and fourth (though a plot summary suggested that they might well suck).
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:42 pm UTC

I remember liking the second one quite a bit. I think I was in high school when I read them though, so it's all a bit hazy.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Herman » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:47 pm UTC

Stephen Baxter.

Characterization varies from minimal to pretty fleshed-out. But always, always the most important goal of the books is to show us as much awesome and strange science and technology as possible. Someone said Rama is a character in Clarke's book. In Baxter, the universe is a character.

Specific recommendations:
Manifold Trilogy
Moonseed
Evolution
Vacuum Diagrams (collections of short stories)
Voyage
Titan
Ring

But they're all great.

Aldarion
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Aldarion » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:01 pm UTC

I'll try reading your recommendations, thanks!
And yes, the sequels, written by Gentry Lee (or is it Lee Gentry?), are quite lousy. As some guy said on a certain blog, "A Danielle Steele novel is more scientific".
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby william » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:39 pm UTC

Speaking of Baxter, who else likes the "Time Odyssey" books Clarke and Baxter are writing now?
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rxninja
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby rxninja » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:13 am UTC

Arthur C. Clarke has done quite a few short stories, if memory serves, but specifics aren't coming to mind. I do recall enjoying them and having a positive association with the name, so check them out if you feel so compelled.

For some reason, the next name association that came to mind was Alfred Bester with "The Stars, My Destination." I have no idea why those two names are connected in my brain, but "Stars..." is a pretty good book.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby George Orr » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:34 am UTC

rxninja wrote:Arthur C. Clarke has done quite a few short stories, if memory serves, but specifics aren't coming to mind. I do recall enjoying them and having a positive association with the name, so check them out if you feel so compelled.

For some reason, the next name association that came to mind was Alfred Bester with "The Stars, My Destination." I have no idea why those two names are connected in my brain, but "Stars..." is a pretty good book.

Ahhh! "The Stars my Destination" is without a doubt one of my favorite books of all time, and if you like SF at all, I implore you to check it out immediately. It's a really fast read, but has a surprising amount of depth behind all the action. "The Demolished Man," also by Bester, is really excellent as well, but not quite on "The Stars My Destination" level.

"Rendezvous..." is good, my favorite Clarke novel without a doubt, but I've mostly forgotten it now, sadly. I do know that I will never read the sequels, though. In my sense of the rightness of things, it seems that that book had the right suspenseful ending, and shouldn't be ruined by actually resolving upon the suspense.

Kinda like Card should never in a sane universe be writing a sequel to "Children of the Mind."
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Ghandi 2 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:58 am UTC

The sequel is pretty good. He went off the deep end with the third and fourth, though and got into that "social commentary" crap.

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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Narsil » Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:10 pm UTC

I and II were pretty decent, but "Gardens of Rama" was an abortive piece of crap and illustrates Clarke at his absolute worst. He loves using the "it's a really big, mysterious artifact thing and it could be this and it could be that but I'm not telling!" plotline in his books, and has a way of making his objects so powerful an unfathomable that he ignores them and focuses on some morons having a poorly written soap opera, thus losing whatever was appealing about the story in the first place. For reference, see 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Aldarion » Wed Dec 12, 2007 2:19 pm UTC

CrackTheSky wrote:I can't think of any other books to recommend based on what you enjoy...actually, you might like Alastair Reynold's trilogy which starts with a book called Revelation Space. That actually fits your description pretty well, but it's a time investment.



I don't really care about time... I've finished the entire Asimov Timeline (Robot stories => Lucky Starr => Elijah Bailey books => Foundation heptology) in 2 months.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby CrackTheSky » Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:16 pm UTC

Narsil wrote:I and II were pretty decent, but "Gardens of Rama" was an abortive piece of crap and illustrates Clarke at his absolute worst. He loves using the "it's a really big, mysterious artifact thing and it could be this and it could be that but I'm not telling!" plotline in his books, and has a way of making his objects so powerful an unfathomable that he ignores them and focuses on some morons having a poorly written soap opera, thus losing whatever was appealing about the story in the first place. For reference, see 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey.

Was 2010 any good? I've avoided it so far for the same reasons I've avoided reading anything past the first in the Rama series.

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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Amarantha » Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:10 am UTC

Aldarion wrote:Because that's what I like reading: technical descriptions and little more.
...
...I just want a nice, big, complicated machine and some people either trying to find out how it works, or explaining it to each other.
That's the SF I like.
Do you know any such books?



Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement is pretty science-y. It takes place on a very dense planet whose gravity ranges from 3g at the equator to 700g at the poles. The main characters are intrepid voyagers who happen to be similar in size and shape to centipedes. There is a bit of character-driven story arc, but it's mostly about how gravity works and how science works (bitches!).
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Ghandi 2 » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:56 am UTC

No, don't bother with 2010. HAL 9000 is an iconic character, but I looked up the plot summary on Wiki and it's just as stupid as I remembered. And the ending completely contradicts the end of 3001 (which I never even finished), which is just pathetic on the part of Clarke.

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Narsil
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Narsil » Fri Dec 14, 2007 9:15 pm UTC

CrackTheSky wrote:
Narsil wrote:I and II were pretty decent, but "Gardens of Rama" was an abortive piece of crap and illustrates Clarke at his absolute worst. He loves using the "it's a really big, mysterious artifact thing and it could be this and it could be that but I'm not telling!" plotline in his books, and has a way of making his objects so powerful an unfathomable that he ignores them and focuses on some morons having a poorly written soap opera, thus losing whatever was appealing about the story in the first place. For reference, see 2061: Odyssey Three and 3001: The Final Odyssey.

Was 2010 any good? I've avoided it so far for the same reasons I've avoided reading anything past the first in the Rama series.

It's the least horrible of all the sequels, but there are so many books out there far more worth your time.

Also, they add a character named SAL. Yeah. Like Hal, but Sal. Hal's Indian brother. I didn't make this shit up. It's poorly written.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Zohar » Sat Dec 15, 2007 11:32 am UTC

Really? I love 2010! I thought 2061 was the black sheep of the series. Then 3001, then 2010 and 2001 are roughly coupled. I don't know, 2010 just felt really cool. I recommend all of the series.
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby SpitValve » Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:04 pm UTC

The first Rama book was pretty cool. Even though it basically had no characterisation, the exploration of Rama just filled me with a sense of wonder.

But after that... it got a bit silly. They didn't really learn much more about Rama until the end of the last book, and then it turned out it was kinda silly.

Spoiler:
If they'd been around basically since the beginning of the universe, I'd expect them to have even more advanced technology than what they appear to have here...

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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby mjpulaski » Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:45 pm UTC

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Frank Herbert is probably something you'll like. I'm like you. I like the gizmo stuff more than the mushy stuff. Rendezvous with Rama is probably my alltime favorite. I swear I got vertigo when I first ran Clarke's description of how Rama worked (gravity, water, rain, plants, etc.)

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Zohar
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Zohar » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:44 pm UTC

mjpulaski wrote:"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Frank Herbert Robert A. Heinlein


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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby ToLazyToThink » Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:07 pm UTC

Herman wrote:Stephen Baxter.

Characterization varies from minimal to pretty fleshed-out. But always, always the most important goal of the books is to show us as much awesome and strange science and technology as possible. Someone said Rama is a character in Clarke's book. In Baxter, the universe is a character.

Specific recommendations:
Manifold Trilogy
Moonseed
Evolution
Vacuum Diagrams (collections of short stories)
Voyage
Titan
Ring

But they're all great.


I love Baxter and all... But am I the only one that's left with a feeling of WTF? at the end of most of his novels.

Aldarion
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Re: Rendezvous with Rama

Postby Aldarion » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:48 pm UTC

[quote="Amarantha]
Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement .[/quote]

Amarantha, thanks a furshlugginer ngogn!
Like Clarke, Clement conveys the sense of wonder in discovering new things. You can see that he was a teacher, that's for sure. If I was a teacher myself, I'd make my pupils read it to appreciate the use and fun of learning new things.
Too bad he didn't write anything else significant.
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