Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rama Revealed by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee

(1994: fourth novel in the Rama quadrilogy)

From the inside flap:

"On its mysterious voyage through interstellar space, a massive, alien starship carries its passengers to the end of a generations-long odyssey. For the great experiment conceived by the Ramans has failed. Rama III, with its carefully designed Earth habitat, as well as environments to house other intelligent species, has become a battleground.

"Instead of creating a utopia, the human contingent has brought forth a tyrant who seeks to conquer the other sectors of the vast Raman ark. Cosmonaut Nicole des Jardins, a lone voice for reason who is now jailed and awaiting execution, is aided in a daring escape by two tiny robots. On New York island, the dark, brooding and deserted city in the midst of Rama III's cylindrical sea, Nicole is reunited with her long-lost husband, Richard Wakefield, whom she'd given up for dead.

"Joined by their children and other rebels from the Earth sector, Nicole and Richard enter New York's labyrinthine underground aboard a ghostly subway hoping to find the ship's secret inner workings. What they find instead is the emerald-domed lair of the technologically advanced species that rules this fabulous subraman world: the octospiders. These arachnidlike creatures are luring Nicole and the rebels into their domain, but the Earth group is divided as to whether the octospiders are allies or enemies. . ."


Rama Revealed is a dystopian, violent and occasionally exhilarating read (especially when the octospiders, avians and other aliens are present) -- that said, there is a silver lining to this dark, sometimes horrifying fiction-themed novel, which runs chatty and long, especially in the first quarter and last twenty pages.

This is a mood-consistent, satisfactory (if often disturbing) finish to the Rama series. If you are a long-time Clarke fan, do not expect much of Clarke's usual optimism regarding humanity in this series -- except in Rendezvous with Rama, which Gentry Lee did not co-author.

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