Note:  Rendezvous With Rama has won more awards than almost any other Science Fiction novel.  It is one of the all-time classics of Science Fiction.  I first read if after I ordered it from My Weekly Reader (now defunct) when I was in 5th grade.  It is the first Science Fiction novel I ever read, and I was so fortunate that I picked it as my first.  It is an extremely easy read, and I read it in one sitting, wondering how the time flew by so fast while reading it. I was so disappointed that it was over.  As a result, I have probably re-read it at least a dozen times. I highly recommend it to anyone as their first Science Fiction novel.  That being said, there were several sequels to it.  I think 4 sequels were out the last time I checked.  None of the sequels even come close to being as good as the first one.  After publishing the first one, Clarke was inundated with tons of correspondence begging him to write a sequel.  He stated, and I agree, that the first one was deliberately constructed to be a one time novel.  The ending of the novel is the hook, the part that makes the reader beg to read about what happens next.  In fact, the very last sentence of the novel is the kicker, and that last sentence is what made people beg for more. When the first sequel came out, Clarke was considerably older, and he really didn't have the desire nor the inclination to write any sequels.  As a result, all of the sequels were "co-written" with another author.  It seems that Clarke simply had the final say in the final draft.  The difference between the orignal and the sequels is unmistakeably obvious, and in my opinion they are not worth the bother to read them.  You can tell by reading them that Clarke really didn't have much to do with them. I imagine he got tired of being harassed to make sequels, and he probably figured, "What the hell ... I can make tons of money from it if people are that desperate."  So, I imagine he gave in just to get people to quit bothering him about it.  My recommendation is to not even bother with the sequels. I also think that if it is ever made into a movie, and done correctly, I would one awesome film.

--- David Richardson 4/20/2017

A ten million megaton starship which passed through the Sol system in 2131 AD.

Since Rama was in free fall when it entered our system, it was naturally assumed to be an asteroid and routinely cataloged as "31/439" by Spaceguard. As its peculiarities surfaced, 31/439 earned the astronomical name Rama.

It was soon realized that the asteroid was in fact a cylindical artifact 50 kilometers long and 20 kilometers in diameter. The Solar Survey ship, the Endeavor, intercepted and explored Rama.

Although the exploration posed more questions than it answered, Rama is believed to be a "space ark" on a voyage of staggering proportions. Rama's last solar fly-by was probably 200,000 years before its arrival in the Sol system. Rama was pointed directly at the Magellanic Clouds when it left our system. However, Rama's actual embarking point and ultimate destination are unknown.

The exterior of Rama is a perfect, unadorned cylinder. Air lock facilities are located at one end, Rama's reactionless drive is at the other end. This drive is capable of a cruising speed of 2000K per second, roughly one percent the speed of light.

The interior of Rama is a single "room" using the inside of the outer shell as a floor. The floor space is broken by three pair of strip lights bordering each shore of a 10K "sea." The sea forms a "ribbon" around the cylinder's epicenter. (Imagine a stripe painted around the inside of a basketball.)

The sea is actually an "organometallic soup" densely packed with spherical single-shelled organisms similar to Terran plankton of prehistoric times. The sea's apparent purpose is to supply raw materials for BIOTS and other artifacts. Biots are fabricated in a number of automated factories located on an oval island (10K x 30K) in the cylindical sea. The biots perform maintenance tasks during solar fly-byes.

Rama and its contents are built on a principle of triple symmetry and redundancy. The Ramans themselves are probably tri-pedal. Supporting evidence is the design of the various biots and devices viewed in the Illustrated Catalog of Rama Artifacts.

From Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

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