Rendezvous with Rama

From Academic Kids

Rendezvous with Rama
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Novel by Arthur C. Clarke
Released 1972
Original publisher (U.S.) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Genre Science fiction
Professional reviews
SF Reviews.Net T. M. Wagner link (
Hugo Award Best Novel 1974
Nebula Award Best Novel 1973
Jupiter Award Best Novel 1974

Rendezvous with Rama is a novel by Arthur C. Clarke first published in 1972. Set in the 22nd century, the story involves a thirty-mile-long cylindrical alien starship that passes through Earth's solar system on its way to the sun, and a group of human explorers sent to examine it. The story is told from the point of view of the humans, and the nature and purpose of the starship and its creators remains enigmatic.

A movie based on this novel, starring Morgan Freeman, is said to be in development.

The "Rama" of the title is the starship, which is initially mistaken for an asteroid and named after the Hindu deity. (By the 22nd century, we are told, scientists have run out of Roman mythological figures to name astronomical bodies after.)

The book was meant to be a stand-alone, but the final sentence of the book convinced almost everyone who read it that there would be at least two more sequels:

And on far-off Earth, Dr Carlisle Perera had as yet told no one how he had woken from a restless sleep with the message from his subconscious still echoing in his brain: The Ramans do everything in threes.

Facing such enormous pressure, Clarke paired up with Gentry Lee for the remainder of the series, but some fans consider these sequels as inferior to the original.


Books in the series

Gentry Lee also wrote two further novels set in the same Rama Universe.

Design and geography of Rama

Rama is, in design, similar to an O'Neill habitat, with a large cylindrical interior that rotates to provide approximately one gee of artificial gravity. Unlike most O'Neill habitat designs, however, Rama is equipped with several space drives, giving it maneuvering capability.

Rama contains a body of water, the Cylindrical Sea, which wraps around the cylindrical interior "surface" of Rama about halfway between the ends. In the center of the Cylindrical Sea is an island of mysterious purpose, named New York by the astronauts due to its tall towers. The Sea divides Rama into Northern and Southern Hemicylinders; beyond these are the North and South Poles, which are circular walls capping the interior space. The North Pole contains Rama's airlocks; the South Pole contains its drive systems.

Other collections of "buildings" are found on the "surface", arbitrarily named London, Paris, Moscow, Bombay, Beijing, and Tokyo.

Effects on science and history

The initial search program that detects Rama in the first two chapters of the book, Project Spaceguard, is a program to detect near-Earth objects on Earth-impact trajectories, initiated after a fictional disastrous asteroid strikes Italy, destroying Padua and Verona, and sinking Venice. A real Spaceguard project, named after the project in Rendezvous, was initiated some years later. After interest in the dangers of asteroid strikes was heightened by a series of Hollywood disaster movies, the United States Congress gave NASA authorization and funding to support Spaceguard.

Other Media

A text adventure style computer game based on the book was made in 1984 by Tellurium and exported to systems such as the Apple II and Commodore 64. Despite its primitive graphics, it had highly detailed descriptions, and it followed the book very closely along with having puzzles to solve during the game.

Sierra Entertainment created RAMA in 1996 as a point and click adventure game in the style of Myst. Along with highly detailed graphics, Arthur C. Clarke also appeared in the game as the guide for the player in the game. This game also featured characters from the sequel book Rama mit 31/439 fr:Rendez-vous avec Rama


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