Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rama II by Arthur C Clarke and Gentry Lee

(hb; 1989: second novel in the Rama quadrilogy)

From the inside flap:

"Decades have passed since Commander Norton and his crew met with the enormous alien ship dubbed Rama and declared it an intelligent robot with no interest in the creatures of our solar system. In those years the world has undergone dramatic changes -- from the wild prosperity immediately following the Raman visit to the cataclysm of the Great Chaos, also spurred by Rama. And then, near the dawn of the twenty-third century, a spacecraft is identified hurtling across our solar system. A crew of a dozen is assembled to rendezvous with the massive ship. And mankind has a second date with destiny.

"Some of the best and brightest minds on Earth are assembled to intersect with Rama II just inside the orbit of Venus. Among them are the brilliant engineer Richard Wakefield, scientist Shigeru Takagishi (author of The Atlas of Rama), heroic life science officer Nicole des Jardins, stern commander in chief Valeriy Borzov, and the duplicitous video journalist Francesca Sabatini. But even though the crew is equipped with every piece of information that is known about Raman technology and culture, there is nothing that can prepare them for what they will encounter on board. For while Rama II appears to be much like its predecessor, the crew will discover startling -- perhaps even deadly -- differences."


Review:

Rama II revisits an initially familiar, century-plus-later, new Rama, but differentiates itself from its source novel by -- plot-wise -- moving quicker, injecting more intrigue and human darkness, and showing brief violence. There is plenty of "hard" science, new (and updated) creatures and elements that reveal more, but not all of, Rama's intentions. The writing is excellent, the story more personal (if sometimes word-chatty) and its scope more expansive.

The ending is open-ended, sequel-friendly. Worth owning, this. Followed by The Garden of Rama.

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