|Cloggie: booklog 2002: Rendezvous with Rama|
Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
published in 1973
There's Arthur C. Clarke as you usually get to see him, optimistic but realistic hardheaded chronicler of space exploration and there's Arthur C. Clarke the dreamer, the visionary, the mystic. The best example of the second Clarke is 2001: A Space Oddyssee, but Rendezvous with Rama falls also in this category.
It's the year 2130 and what first was thought to be a fast moving comet entering the Solar System, turned out to be a gigantic, alien spaceship. There's only one ship close enough to intercept it before it leaves the Solar System again: the Endeavour, captained by Commander Norton. He and his crew manage to break into the interior of the ship, where they explore a world full of wonders.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of science fiction, which sets it apart from other literary genres is the feeling of a sense of wonder a good science fiction story evokes in its readers, a feeling of awe at the majesty of the universe. This sensawunda, as the more cynical under us sf fans call it, is often artificially created, by the literary equivalent of dramatic film music. Clarke never does that. His writing is as unpolished, sober and devoid of purple prose in Rendezvous with Rama as it always is; any sense of wonder you feel comes from the concepts he describes themselves, not from his writing.
And yes, while Rendezvous with Rama has lost some of the significance it had when it first came out, simply because science fiction as a whole has moved on, it still managed to evoke that sense of awe in me. However, this would've been a better book had I read it when I was twelve.
Webpage created 24-10-2002, last updated 30-01-2003