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Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama" : Book Discussion • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

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LucisPixel
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Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby LucisPixel » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:09 am

I reread this book as well. I was fascinated with the concept of an alien craft entering the earth's atmosphere. I found upon rereading it that there was a pronounced lack of astonishment by the characters in entering Rama. I am fascinated by the European sense of normalcy with their achieving that which no one has ever done before and not being elated at the prospect of learning something monumental or achieving something astounding.

This book was essential to my growth as a reader growing up and rereading it let me see further into Clarke's hard science fiction. He just wrote this book where people were so calm about the new craft that was from where? No one knew. They boarded it and the fact that all they had to do was open a hatch to get inside made reading it interesting as a fictional author because sometimes I guess you have to force your writing past the problem you are facing. It was downplayed that they made it inside quite easily and I was a fan of the concept of the book but really upon retrospective reading I imagine that sending a small team to explore the inner workings of a craft was a more interesting read than studying the craft from Earth itself.

I think a more realistic interpretation of this book would have been for the leaders of earth in this concept to have not gone inside but rather to have been content to just study it from the outside. Or rather as a problem for the astronauts to have been unable to gain entrance. That would have made for more realistic story telling to me but Clarke forged ahead and portrayed this entire arc of story telling where the craft was noticed, it was entered and it was explored.

I learned from reading this a second time that in fiction you can do whatever you want. There is no problem that cannot be surmounted in fiction. If you want to explore something craft the rationale experience for your readers necessary to follow along and keep writing the portrait of the thought you want to paint.

Its a great read.
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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby James A. Ritchie » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:45 pm

I loved this book. Clarke wrote very realistic fiction. Unless there really is an interstellar war here, and another one over there, getting in spaceships from the outside should be easy. This is the logical and proper design. This is how spaceships should be built because the likelihood of wars in space, with having to protect access to your ship from the enemy, is almost certainly nonexistent. You need easy access hatches for emergency help, and for crews to do outside repair work.

There not only is no good reason for making entry into a ship difficult, there is every reason to make it easy. Very large ships should have outside access from many points.

Really, even now, we build for easy access. The space station is the same way. This just makes sense. Clarke knew this, as well.

Well, unless the universe really is like Star Wars, but I doubt this is the case. Ever if it is like Star Wars, ships would almost certainly still have easy outside access because, let's face it, if the enemy can actually get troops on the hall of your ship, you've already lost the battle, and if they can't get in through a hatch, they'll just blow a hole in the hull.

But, no, it wouldn't have been realistic at all to have the ship studied only from the outside. Realism means you try to contact the ship, and if it does not respond, you try to reach it. Once there, if there still is no response, you try to get inside. This is SOP. Even though it has never happened, it has been planned for, and it's the same basic rule used for ships at sea. Clarke knew this was SOP.

As for the calmness, I didn't see it. I thought the characters behaved very realistically. There would be fear and wonder on earth, until we learned what the ship had in mind, but no panic until we had reason. The crew sent to visit the ship certainly would be excited, and Clarke portrayed them as such, but excitement does not mean lack of calmness. It means the opposite. With a mission like this, someone who can't remain perfectly calm won't be in space.

I think there are three more books in the series, written by Gentry Lee, but with Clarke's help.

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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby LucisPixel » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:03 pm

I could be firm about the easy access to the inside of a space ship. I am certain that futuristic technology would have futuristic locks. Locks that might not open as easily as Clarke made them out to be. It makes more sense to me that all the story should have been about is a large smooth cylinder shifting through space but to me it would have been interesting to see maybe some advanced radar scanning the ship that Earth had access to. If they did not make it inside the ship. I would believe it to be more realistic than it was but it is fiction so as an author Clarke can manipulate time and space to his wishes and in my mind the lock is hard to open but to you and Clarke its quite easy. Im more interested in some advanced sonar scans of the ship or radiation scanning or something like that and maybe the story mostly takes place on earth and religious leaders are debating this new concept of our new place in the universe having seen alien technology for the first time.

You say the locks of course would be easy to open, that's fine. I have to be firm and state that alien race alien locks not a really good chance to open them up.

that's just me though.
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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby James A. Ritchie » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:10 pm

Why on earth would you have any kind of lock on a spaceship hatch? Who's going to sneak in when you aren't looking? And the trouble with locks is what do you do if the power fails and you need in? There simply is no more need for a hard to open hatch, or for locks, on a spaceship than there is screen doors on a submarine. I can't imagine anything more unnecessary, pointless, or paranoid than worrying about needing a lock on a spaceship hatch.

The only reason for putting a lock on anything is because you're afraid someone will come in and steal you stuff when you aren't there, or while you're sleeping at night. If you aren't afraid of someone coming in, then a lock is pointless. If you're writing realistic SF, putting a lock on a spaceship hatch simply makes no sense. Clarke researched this, as well. He was told no, there would be no locks. Of course not.

But if there had been a lock, they still would have gone in. You don't allow the first known alien spaceship to simply pass through your solar system without going inside and learning all you can. The outside is going to tell you almost nothing you need to know, and any kind of meaningful probing, sonar wouldn't do it, might damage or destroy the entire ship, or any crew inside.

The number one thing you're after is how the interstellar drive, and all its components, work. With luck, there's a crew who will tell you. If there isn't, you go inside and try to find out how it works for yourself, and you go inside, lock or no lock.

Telling the story your way would have worked, but it would not have been the same story, and, frankly, it;s been done a hundred times. It's boring. There's no wonder, no awe, no exploration, and no real adventure. Clarke's story was new, back when it was written. How people on earth would react has been done to death. It was old, even if the fifties.

If you haven't read the other books, do so.

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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby LucisPixel » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:27 pm

Okay. I just thought locks and doors went together. That's all.
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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby robjvargas » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:48 pm

Slowly putting together a "replacement" forum at http://writerswriting.proboards.com.

It's still under construction, but come take a look.

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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby onceuponwednesday » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:10 pm

Maybe the aliens wanted the humans to come inside.
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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby LucisPixel » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:17 pm

Ever realize the moon is just floating in the sky? I saw it through a telescope. Its just floating up there. My epic science fiction fantasy in the realm of the largest thought I could ever think of for a science fiction novel would be a future so far in the future that we attach rockets to the moon and fly the moon out of orbit like a spaceship. Arthur C Clarke dreamt big and he inspired me to dream big. Like wrapping a dyson sphere around the moon and flying it out of orbit of the earth. Not sure what would happen to the earth if we just flew the moon like a spaceship but in my epic science fiction novel that I am never going to write. We fly the moon out of orbit and the doors ... would have locks. To keep our earth secrets from the aliens.
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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby robjvargas » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:42 pm

Slowly putting together a "replacement" forum at http://writerswriting.proboards.com.

It's still under construction, but come take a look.

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Re: Arthur C Clarke's "Rendevous With Rama"

Postby LucisPixel » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:49 pm

If you are misrepresenting yourself as a FCC official during this heightened state of be awareness then you are purgering yourself.
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