Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Garden of Rama by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee

(pb; 1991: third novel in the Rama quadrilogy)

From the back cover:

"By the twenty-third century Earth had already experienced two encounters with the massive, mysterious robotic spaceship from beyond our solar system -- the incontestable proof of technology that far exceeds our own. Now three human cosmonauts are trapped aboard a labyrinthine Raman vessel, where it will take all of their physical and mental resources to survive. Only twelve years into their journey do these intrepid travelers learn their destination and face their ultimate challenge: a rendezvous with a Raman base -- and the unseen architects of their galactic home. The cosmonauts have given up family, friends and possessions to live a new kind of life. But the answers that await them at the Raman Node will require an even greater sacrifice -- if humanity is indeed ready to learn the awe-inspiring truth."

The first half of Garden is Clarke's usual awe-inspiring, optimistic "hard" science fiction mixed with Lee's relatively darker and more detailed take on humanity. The second half, with its introduction of significantly more characters, becomes brutal, nasty and especially cynical (or, as I acknowledge, realistic) -- Lee's influence, I'm guessing. Fans of Clarke's work may be put off by this violent second half, but it is still well written and -- as I wrote before -- realistic, a cautionary tale that reads like current events.

Garden is an excellent follow-up read to the first two Rama books, if you do not mind its pervasive, timely darkness and its occasional glimmers of hope. Followed by Rama Revealed.

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