In the year 2130 a mysterious spaceship, Rama, arrived in the solar system. It was huge, but empty - apparently abandoned. By the time Rama departed for its next unknown destination many wonders had been uncovered, but few mysteries solved. Only one thing was clear: everything the enigmatic builders of Rama did, they did in threes.
Eighty years later the second alien craft arrived in the solar system. This time, Earth had been waiting. Now Rama II is on its way out of the solar system. Aboard it are three humans, two men and a woman, left behind when the expedition departed. Ahead of them lies the unknown, a voyage no human has ever experienced; and at the end of it may lie the truth about Rama.
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.
©1991 Arthur C. Clarkes & Gentry Lee (P)2014 Audible Studios
We were left with an interesting situation at the end of book 2 in the Rama
series which demanded that I purchase the third part of this series, The
Garden of Rama. Aspects of the previous book were rather wasteful in my
opinion with a very long and rather dull preamble that did nothing for the
story at all. Thankfully, book 3 of this series doesn't make that mistake
and launches the reader into a continuation of the previous book albeit in a
two part format. The first approximate half of the story is a sort of
journal format telling us of the plight of the castaways on Rama II as told
from Nicole Wakefield's point of view. This part of the book is narrated by
Louise Jameson AKA Lela for those old enough like me to remember her role
alongside Tom Baker in the late 1970's Doctor Who TV series. Unfortunately,
Jameson delivers the entire recital of Nicole's journal in a French accent
that becomes somewhat tiring after a while. Since this is essentially a
reading of a journal I find the use of an accented telling of this rather
unnecessary. I can see why a female narrator was used for this section of
the book but not the accent.
This first half of the story is more a tale of the trials and tribulations
faced by the group of three that elected to stay on Rama and is less about
Rama itself. however, what we do learn about Rama in this section is still
nevertheless an interesting expansion of the mysteries of their environment.
The second part of the book is narrated by the excellent Toby Longworth who
brings back all the accents and mannerisms of the characters we have come to
know from the previous book in the series. This part of the story is where
things get even more interesting as the Rama spacecraft reaches "The Node"
which is a giant way station in deep space where Rama and other spacecraft
are refurbished and configured for their next assignments while passengers
are off loaded for the next phase of their journey or in the case of our
collection of characters, housed until the Rama craft is altered to
accommodate a human settlement of 2,000 members.
Our original trio of castaways now expanded by several children spends a
year at the node and has an enigmatic alien liaison assigned to them that
explains how they will return to Rama - now Rama III after refurbishment and
had back towards the Earth solar system to collect the members of what is to
be called New Eden. This Earth like settlement which is a self contained
habitat in the northern hemi-cylinder will be used by the intelligence that
designed the node and Rama to observe and learn from human behaviour in a
much more natural environment.
Nicole is recruited to make a video presentation that will be transmitted to
Earth when five years away from a mars orbit explaining the situation and
the need for 2,000 humans to be selected for the new colony within Rama.
Now, this is where the authors make an odd choice here as for some
inexplicable reason that makes no sense to me, a collection of 300 criminals
forms part of the colony group to become residents of New Eden and of
course, ultimately it's this element that manages to screw everything up in
the idyllic new home provided for them. I suppose that without this aspect
there would likely be no further development of the plot that would make for
the twisting turning storyline that ensues but why anyone would send 300
criminals to form a colony of 2,000 is still rather beyond me.
Where this book excels compared to the previous one in this series is how
the authors really begin to take the reader on a journey of discovery. We
see how New Eden society develops and we are introduced to a set of new and
diverse characters that form a new addition to our existing family. I was
immersed into this new phase of the story and found this section of the book
Anyway, as ever, it takes humans to really screw things up and soon all is
not well in paradise. The humans breach their own habitat and discover
another nearby and start to breach that one. We are taken on an amazing
journey into this new habitat which is shared by a symbiotic relationship
between the avians and two other new species so far unseen. The chief
protagonist, Richard Wakefield escapes from New Eden after a dictatorship is
formed and enters the new habitat and slowly learns its secrets. In the
meantime things deteriorate in New Eden under the oppressive regime and
before long the humans screw things up even further by deciding they want
extra living space and declare war on the inhabitants of the new domain and
proceed to do what we as a species often do best.
The story really sweeps the reader along with its rich and fantastical
detail. I wont delve into any more plot points as I've likely already
disclosed too much but suffice to say that this is a well written tale that
I found very absorbing and fascinating. As all good books that form a series
tend to do, we are left on a cliff-hanger that was such that I just had to
immediately download the next and last book in the series. In many ways this
book makes up for the faults present in the previous book and although, as
one reviewer stated, it is a book of two halves, the overall result is one
that I found very enjoyable and well worth a read.
Yes I would, in a year or so. I'm sure I'd enjoy it again. There is so much detail in the Rama books that you are bound to find bits you missed the first time.
They're all good, human and alien. Are the Octospiders goodies or baddies?
Toby Longworth is a brilliant narrator. He is interesting to listen to. The main advantage to audio files over physical books is that you can multi task. I usually have a book running while I'm cooking the evening meal.
I'm sure Louise Jameson reads well in her natural voice, but she makes a hash of her section of this book. I would have given up if she had been the only reader. Her attempt at a French accent is like the proverbial "car crash". Her accent comes across as a mash up of German, Chinese & a little French. She's simply awful. I breathed a sigh of relief when her section was finished :-(
The end. Left me wanting more. Luckily there was another volume to follow.
I really enjoyed this classic book. Each Rama book is better than the last. It demonstrates both the best and especially the worst of human nature. Best read in sequence after Rendezvous with Rama but before Rama Revealed. If you like Clarke, you will like these books.
I preferred the chapters that focused on exploring Rama etc, more like the first book. though well written , I wasn't as interested in the characters back stories and found myself wishing there were less character development so it can get back to the exploring of Rama.
After loving Rendezvous with Rama as a child I have struggled with the pace and relentless use of backstory in the second and third books. The story is obscured by relentless, pedantic passages of irrelevant detail. The forced introduction of a voice from every nation challenges the narrator (who performs brilliantly) but I became tired of Nicole and distracted by the realisation that oddly, only half her children had faux French accents. I skipped the last sections - which should have been exhilarating as humans travel deep into space - finding the book bogged down by tedious and unbelievable, parochial events, such as a trial and a wedding. I feel sad and can't quite face the final instalment. Shall I bother?
Rama 3 is very much a human story. Packed with diverse characters and a very accurate portrayal of human nature. Add the incredible sci fi elements and you have another installment of a truly epic story that I will be sorry to see end.
No. I loved Arthur C Clarke's earlier books, but this was dreadful. I enjoy the science and imagination but I do not like unpleasantness and too much attention on sexual activity.
The creativity of the whole idea.
They were both good narrators.
I do like the consistency of the story line within the series.
I had to stop listening to the reading half way. Very disappointed.
I haven't read the print version but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
How richly things are described.
Toby is the master of interpretation. I love how he gets into each of the characters and makes you feel you actually listen to the real guys. He brings the russian, the hungarian, the itailan and all other accents to life. I don't even know how he does it. Brilliant!
I would only recommend this book to die-hard Rama fans who are slogging their way through the last three books in the series to see how it ends. This really is 90% soap-opera filler, 10% sci-fi. The whole series feels like Clarke gave Lee a few pages of actual story which is now spread out over far, far too much bread, with said bread being rather stale.
Having just read a book by Lem I was struck by just how poor (other than the first) these Rama books are and how devoid of ideas they are. Some of the mystery from the first book is explained but frankly, I'd rather not have known, it takes the magic away from the first book. I really disliked most of the characters, Nicole, her children, all the colonists, it was just awful. The soap-opera drama was of no interest to what a reader of Clarke craves which is is hard sci-fi.
In the end, I just think this is terribly mediocre book.
My reaction to the ending was 'phew, only one more book to go in this series and I'll cross it off my list'.
None really, I really just don't like any of these characters, they are frightfully dull.
Well it has one so it would seem to.
I recommend getting it when it's on special, or better yet, not at all.
The split narration paid off since the book is essentially in two halves.
An interesting story enlivened by how humans can mess up even a utopia handed to them on a plate.
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