In 2130, an alien spaceship, Rama, entered our solar system. The first product of an alien civilisation to be encountered by man, it revealed many wonders to mankind; but most of its mysteries remained unsolved.…
Sixty-six years later, a second approaching spacecraft was detected; four years on, the Ramans are definitely returning. But this time, Earth is ready. And maybe now, with the arrival of Rama II, some of the questions posed by Rama will at last be answered.
Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead, in 1917. During the Second World War he served as an RAF radar instructor, rising to the rank of Flight-Lieutenant. After the war he won a BSc in physics and mathematics with first-class honours from King's College, London. One of the most respected of all science-fiction writers, he also won Kalinga Prize, The Aviation Space-Writers' Prize, and The Westinghouse Science Writing Prize. He shared an OSCAR nomination with Stanley Kubrick for the screenplay of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was based on his story, The Sentinel. He lived in Sri Lanka from 1956 until his death in 2008.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By S. Morris on 25-08-15
Takes A While To Get Going
I had read the first Rama novel, Rendezvous with Rama many years ago as a
child and had found myself rapt with its story of adventure and exploration
of the complete unknown. After having rediscovered this book now available
in audio form and narrated by Toby Longworth, I had relived my childhood
wonder by my second reading - or should I say listening of this classic.
However, I also spotted a sequel, Rama II which I had no idea was even
written and so knew this would be my next book selection on Audible. I could
also see that the excellent Toby Longworth narrated this one too and so
with great expectations I delved into the second instalment of the Rama
series of books.
My overriding complaint about this story is the totally unnecessary first 14
chapters. So much background history of the Earth after the previous Rama
encounter was given that was frankly just boring and did nothing for the
story. To me, this was pure padding of the worst kind and served to delay
the real start of the story until chapter 15. We also get a lot of other
socialization scenarios of the main characters dealt with in the wasteful
preamble too that also does nothing for the story. In my opinion the book
could have really started at chapter 15 which is where our odd crew finally
end up in space and approaching Rama II.
There followed a few chapters also wasted on really quite odd and
superfluous back stories before finally getting into the teeth and main
purpose of the narrative which was the exploration of Rama II. Once we do
get to Rama II the story immediately becomes more interesting but I felt
that the time spent there by the Newton crew was somewhat wasted as they
didn't seem to really explore too much. Given the size of the party
exploring the huge space craft I felt that multiple smaller teams could be
dotted around the vast interior and each could then ad to the detail of new
mysteries as they uncovered them. In some ways the previous book had the
crew exploring more aspects of Rama with the other key cities like Paris
and London seeing individuals or teams at least do some cursory
investigation. However, great emphasis is placed upon catching one of Rama's
crab-like robots which then was subsequently once captured hardly ever
mentioned again. In addition, the barely explored southern hemi-cylinder was
mostly ignored once more in favour of previously explored areas like the
city of New York and the cylindrical sea. Now, having said all this I would
like to point out that once the reader gets past all the unnecessary stuff
at the start of the book there is still an interesting story here and we do
get to see some new places inside Rama and so worth reading if for nothing
else but to set you up for the far more interesting third instalment in the
Rama series "The Garden of Rama".
The other oddity of this book and in fact several others in the sci-fi
genre I've read and from other authors is the incongruities of some aspects
of future life and technology. bear in mind that my observations are not
to put readers off this story but rather as an aside to highlight how
authors do strange things that just don't make sense. OK, so this book is
set around the year 2200 and so it is rather remarkable that 23rd century
society still has people smoking cigarettes. Given the social trends even at
the time of writing this book, it is clear that smoking would very likely be
a thing of the past some 200 years into the future from the authors current
reference point. One reviewer stated that this book is of its time and I
believe hinted at a 1970's vintage for this story. I was actually surprised
to learn that this story was written around 1986 which makes these noted
oddities even less forgivable. Additionally, the technology used is
inconsistent too in that we see the use of "data cubes" for what appears to
be for storing personnel files and yet the reference to video tape and audio
tape is also made which suggests that at the time of writing that the term
"data" in a computer storage sense was thought to only apply to text files
and that video and audio data was still regarded as being stored on tape.
Quite amazingly short sighted and limiting notions considering the pedigree
of the authors in other technical areas. One character in the story made
mention of 30 books stored in her electronic notebook which also hints at
the lack of understanding at just how vast memory storage would become in
the far future. Given the computing trends already evident at the time of
writing the book it is clear that two decades of development let alone two
would see storage capacities expand exponentially.
The other rather limiting thing the authors did back in the first book and
so are tied into now is the notion that the Soviet Union persists into the
23rd century and how it would appear that only Cosmonauts rather than the
NASA Astronauts exist anymore. To assume that such political and ideological
concepts as the Soviet block would still exist centuries hence is therefore
locking the author and story into something already outdated. Another
renowned sci-fi author, been Bova also made this mistake in some of his
stories too and I wondered why such experienced authors that tell stories
set in the future make such references. Had the author said Russian rather
than Soviet he would've been on far less shaky ground as far as future
events were likely to unfold. Of course, no one can predict the shape of
future events but including such references when not necessary to the
narrative seems strange.
In addition, like Bova, Clarke and Lee have written into this story a rather
flawed group of characters for the most part. We see a crew that has one
member fall pregnant on the way to Rama II and a party involving free use
of alcohol which I find incredibly silly considering that the crew members
selected for such an historic and important mission could be allowed to
indulge in such things in addition to some of the petty squabbles or
friction seen at times. I'm not suggesting that there should be no human
foibles written into such a story but the level of unprofessionalism at
times is head-scratchingly odd to me.
Oh, one other thing I spotted was that the age of the universe was quoted at
18 billion years rather than the long accepted 13 odd billion as I recall. I
don't know if this was thought to be the case back in 1986 so I cannot be
sure I'm not being unfair but if this current belief was known back at the
books writing then this is very bad considering Gentry Lee's credentials.
Again, I stress that my rather sterile critique of the more technical flaws
in this book as outlined above should not put you off it. , Rama II despite its flaws has to be read if
you are planning to read the entire Rama series of books. if you started
this book at chapter 15 you'd save yourself a dull history lesson and
character back stories and then the other niggles mentioned would be just a
secondary minor matter.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Athos on 01-11-15
Worst sequel I've read in a long time.
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
This book would be enjoyable to those who are not familiar with good sci-fi, though as they would have read the first book presumably I expect everyone will be disappointed with this book.
What will your next listen be?
Something not by Gentry Lee.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
The narrator was fine, I don't think he could much more with the material.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disappointment, this book is a terrible follow-up to Rama.
Any additional comments?
It's been said before, but this book was not written by Clarke and it shows, oh how it shows. It's utterly infuriating how it focuses not on Rama for most of the book but constantly digresses into backstory of the dull characters that have been sent to meet Rama, and those backstories really are a chore to sit through. Lee just needs to get to the point, maybe the publisher had a word count limit he had to get across because my word that it drone on.
All in all, not great.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Wanita on 04-08-14
What was most disappointing about Arthur C. Clarke’s story?
The book goes on and on about each character and the past. really bad and boring. Skipped many chapters and tried to get to the actual story..........
1 of 3 people found this review helpful